Two New eBooks at Amazon Kindle!

FacebookMySpaceTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponRSS Feed

Ronald W. Reagan once said, “A little hard work never hurt anyone, but I figure why take a chance.”

Of course he was joking, though some questioned his work ethic. Still, the man accomplished a lot and whatever you thought of his policies or his style, he is memorable.

This Sunday, February 6, marks the anniversary of Reagan’s 100th birthday. Celebrations, commemorations, and remembrances, including at the Super Bowl in Dallas, are planned for Sunday and throughout the remainder of the year. Some of Reagan’s political opponents never warmed to the man, much less his policy perspectives, but a lot of them will join with supporters recalling a man whose political achievements are undeniable.

The 40th President was known for many things, but three stand out as primary reasons for his success: his unfailingly sunny disposition, his genuine appreciation of and respect for people, and his enthusiastic commitment over time to an identifiable (conservative) political philosophy.

These consistencies never wavered over a lifetime in entertainment and politics and were evident in the end when he wrote his last letter, November 5, 1994, to the American people telling them he had Alzheimer’s and saying “When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will face it with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.” Reagan died June 5, 2004, after suffering the affects of Alzheimer’s in what Nancy Reagan called “a truly long, long goodbye.”

The day Reagan took office Iran released 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981. Some said Iran did this to insult outgoing President Jimmy Carter. Some said they did it because they were afraid of Reagan. Probably both, but either way it began Regan’s remarkable presidency in a remarkable way.

On March 30, 1981, John Hinkley, Jr attempted to assassinate President Reagan, shooting him and putting a bullet within an inch of his heart. What we remember from those days is Reagan’s characteristic humor: to Mrs. Reagan, “Honey, I forgot to duck” or to the doctors, “I hope you are all Republicans,” or in print to the nurses, “If I’d had this much attention in Hollywood, I’d have stayed there.”

Some of my favorite Reagan quotes:

--"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'”

--"Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his."

--"I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born."

--“No arsenal…is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.”

Another favorite: “Status Quo is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.” And lastly, a quip Reagan used to quote from his Mother: “Don’t just stand there wringing your hands. Roll up your sleeves.”

The Great Communicator gave us many more memorable quotes drawn from a deep reservoir of appreciation for the ideals that made America strong in the first place. Clearly, Reagan believed in American Exceptionalism. He was not an imperialist or a warmonger, but because he understood people’s hearts he believed in “peace through strength” and “trust, but verify.” Consequently, he stimulated the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Communist Block effectively ending the Cold War.

Most politicians do not have a coherent political philosophy other than what might be blowing in the wind. Not Reagan, he maintained his faith in his values. While President Bill Clinton wanted to know what the latest polls might say so he could change his position, Reagan wanted to know so he could lead the American people to an understanding of why he was taking the position he did. Big difference in leadership style and ultimate impact.

Finally, I include this Reagan quote because I believe it speaks directly to the situation in the Middle East today, sharing a perspective that could encourage freedom protesters but also sharing a perspective American leaders need to embrace:

“The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas--a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.”

Reagan’s legacy will last because what he believed was based upon tested eternal verities, ones America would do well to rediscover. I miss him.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011


*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


Political upheaval in Tunisia and Egypt has gotten the attention of the world this week. Revolution makes good TV, and people in free countries are rooting for what appears to be, or at least what they hope to be, displaced dictatorial regimes and emerging free countries in North Africa.

Politics matter. What happens in the Middle East and North Africa will affect the West and the U.S.

What we should not do, however, in the face of political change is to assume politics will necessarily determine the future of the region in question.

A Dutch theologian named H. M. Kuitert once published a book entitled Politics Is Not Everything But Everything Is Politics. The best thing about this book was its title. Kuitert was right. There’s a great deal more to life than this thing we call "politics." Our lives cannot be reduced to the limitations of the political arena.

On the other hand, Kuitert was correct in his observation that everything we do involves politics. Politics is how we make decisions. It's the art of the possible. It's the act, action, and interaction of debate and decision.

Politics is easily recognizable between nations. And, of course, Washington, D.C. is synonymous with politics. But there's a lot more politicking going on than that.

Some of us have been victims, or maybe beneficiaries, of office politics. Family politics takes place every time relatives decide to do anything, from a trip to Grandma's to a stop at a restaurant. And what about church politics? Can it be? Yes it can. Church politics frequently produce more heat than light and sometimes occupies more time than the central purpose of the church. So we can agree, everything is politics.

The key point to remember is that all politics involves decision-making, and all decision-making is built upon values. Values are basic beliefs and commitments, the ideals we embrace.

Everything is politics, but politics is not everything. What’s happening politically in Tunisia and Egypt will influence the region’s peace, prospects, and prosperity. But even more than politics, the region’s religious worldview will determine its future.

We can pray and root for regime change that leads to open, free, and democratic societies. But we should remember that God is in charge, holds the heart of kings and kingdoms in his hand, and is as able to work his will in closed societies as he is in open ones. While some mean something as evil, God can turn it to good.

This said, I believe God created and endowed human beings with "certain unalienable rights," so I pray for peaceful, non-violent political change that makes possible just governments and free societies.


A version of this blog was originally recorded for the “Making a Difference” radio program, June 22, 1995.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


Newly elected Republican leaders kicked off the 112th Congress by reading the United States Constitution. Oddly, it was the first time in history the nation’s founding document had been publicly and entirely read aloud in Chambers.

On day two of this congressional session it took about 90 minutes for 135 Member volunteers to finish reading an edited version of the Constitution. Only about two-thirds of Members bothered to show up, many eventually appeared bored and worked with smart phones during the reading, and most had long since left when the final words were read. This suggests Members, too, need to ratchet up their regard for the historical and ongoing importance of the Constitution.

In consultation with the Congressional Research Service leaders opted for an edited version which omitted sections of the original Constitution referencing slavery and Prohibition. Why this caused concern is anyone’s guess, but Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D, IL) and others later registered protests saying Republican leaders were trying to whitewash history by skipping over slavery and the painful politics and war that led its demise.

Of course, had Republican leaders chosen to read sections of the Constitution dealing with slaves as “three-fifths of all other Persons” protests from liberals and/or Democrats would have been even louder. In this politically correct age, conservatives would have been accused of insensitivity, intolerance, or worse, racism.

So, was reading the Constitution aloud in Congress a gimmick? Probably. But was it a bad gimmick? No. I’d suggest, no matter what the motives, reading aloud the nation’s founding document, which has served this country so well through thick and thin, is an excellent idea.

I recommend Congress begin all its future sessions reading the Constitution. Prepare for the event via a bipartisan committee. Treat the event with respect and conduct it with dignity. Forbid Members from reading papers or accessing cell phones in Chambers, and honor the nation’s core values.

A few Christian colleges and universities begin academic years with special services or ceremonies, sometimes during convocations, with formal readings of the institution’s doctrinal statement. They often include faculty signing ceremonies within the program to reinforce the institution’s commitment to its philosophy of education. I think this is a valuable reminder that helps students understand the school wasn’t born yesterday, owes much to those who have gone before, and is grounded and integrated in its approach to education. I think reading the Constitution is a similarly valuable exercise.

According to the National Constitution Center only 20% of Americans know each state may elect two Senators. Only 2% know James Madison is called the Father of the United States Constitution. Scarier still, some 75% cannot cite what rights are guaranteed by the First Amendment. The average educated person, let alone others, is not able to quote the Preamble or otherwise provide accurate comments on the document’s content.

Reading the Constitution in Congress, than, would seem to be more practical than political. It would be a worthy tradition, a symbolic reminder of what defines our nation. At its best, it could become a non-partisan salute to freedom and government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

So why not read the United States Constitution to signal the beginning of every new session of the United States Congress? Sounds like common sense to me.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


Picture the scene: President Obama introduces Bill Clinton at a White House press briefing. Clinton, not the least rattled, takes the podium. Obama channels Pat Nixon while adoringly looking on from nearby. For Clinton, Christmas has come early. This scenario tops his fondest fantasies.

Sounds odd and it was. But this is what took place Friday afternoon in the White House.

President Barack Obama announced Clinton’s support of a brokered tax deal with Republicans, hands off to Clinton, watches briefly, and leaves. That’s right, he leaves saying he’s keeping the First Lady waiting and must go to a party.

Is this strange or what? I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never heard of anything like it. If President Obama was concerned about his fading political clout before, he better be now. It was a show of emasculated leadership.

Too strong, you say? Imagine Hilary Clinton as President. Really, it may yet happen. Then imagine her inviting Bill Clinton to share a White House press briefing. Never happen in a million years.

Imagine George H. W. Bush bringing in Ronald Reagan, or for that matter, despite his enduring respect for his father, imagine George W. Bush, 43, sharing a White House policy lectern with 41. We don’t have pictures of these historic events because they never happened.

Accounts of the run-up to this political misstep suggest it all came together unplanned in a matter of minutes during Bill Clinton’s visit with the President to discuss tax politics. It looked unplanned. If I were President Obama I’d fire whatever political advisors let this happen. Or maybe they were caught off-guard when the President stepped into this ill-advised photo opp himself? Whatever.

In an effort to make the President appear to be in charge it made him look weak. Standing nearby? A No-No. Leaving for a party? Gotta run so as not to keep the First Lady waiting? To borrow a phrase from ESPN’s football coverage, “Come on, Man.”

I’m not a rabid anti-Obama man. I don’t appreciate much of his politics, but I respect the office and I respect him in the office. I admire how he relates to his wife and children, and I like his careful thinking style. Since as President of the United Sates he is “my President,” unlike Rush Limbaugh, I root for him.

I appreciate the fact the President’s job is one of the most difficult leadership roles in the world. But this was too much. It was like throwing an interception. It’s tough enough to do well, to win. It’s tougher when you make unforced errors.

How could he have gained Bill Clinton’s support without leaving him alone with the White House press corp? He could have invited the former president for a discussion, then let Bill Clinton talk to the press on the White House lawn on the way out, just like every other politician.

All in all, it was not a good day for President Obama. For Bill Clinton, if he didn’t believe in deja vu, he does now. This was bad political theater that will come back to haunt President Obama in his next campaign.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


The Republican Party euphoria following the comeuppance it gave the Democrat Party in last week’s national elections is understandable. Everyone likes to win and winning big is even more fun.

But a week later, wiser, cooler, more far-seeing heads should prevail. Yet there’s little evidence this is taking place and only minimal evidence it might.

Both Republicans and Democrats need only return to 1994 for worthwhile lessons of what to do and not to do in the wake of lopsided partisan victory versus the party of the incumbent President. That was the year of Newt Gingrich’s “Revolution.”

The problem was, while the Revolution seemed to some like a great leap forward for the republic it soon deteriorated into partisan pugnaciousness. A few months later, President Clinton got the upper hand over Gingrich and the Republicans in the infamous government shutdown showdown. Worse, even though President Clinton later nearly lost his presidency in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment, Republican leaders fared little better because of their own inordinate number of ethics and sex scandals.

Republicans need to learn from the foibles of Gingrich era partisanship. Democrats need to learn from the foibles of Clinton era hubris. Partisanship and hubris, it seems, too often go hand in hand and get the better of politicians, personally and politically. John Boehner and Barack Obama take note.

It’s a bit much to quote oneself, but I’ll risk it here because it fits so well. At the beginning of the Gingrich era in a column published January 8, 1995 in the “Grand Rapids Press” I said:

“Newly elected Republicans will make a major mistake if they think that Americans became tired of Democrats. They did not. Americans became tired of political tribalism masquerading as congressional law making. They became tired of business as usual. Americans want statesmanship. The jury is out on whether the Republicans have the character to provide it.”

I think the same is true today. I’m glad for gains by conservatives more than I’m glad for Republican gains. But either way, I’m not ready to celebrate just because more people with my view of government seem to have control of the teeter totter. I wish them well and I hope they have the character the moment calls for. I’m looking for leaders capable of statesmanship.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at

I just voted via absentee ballot in my home state of Michigan, a state that’s behind the times with no early voting privilege available. This should change.

I’ll be in Cyprus on Election Day, yet I could not vote early, at least not easily. I had to drive to the local township clerk’s office, secure an absentee ballot by affirming that I’d be out of the community the entire Election Day, and vote on a ballot to be submitted by 8:00 pm November 2.

Now some could argue what’s the difference? I got to vote, and if an early voting option had been available I’d have simply followed a different path to the same end. Fair enough. But there’s still certain criteria under which one must qualify to be allowed an absentee ballot. Fortunately I fit the out-of-community item. But what if I simply wanted to vote early for a variety of other legitimate but not approved reasons? Then I’d have been disenfranchised.

Some 32 states and the District of Columbia permit early voting, generally 10 to 14 days prior to an election. “No excuse” absentee voting is offered in 30 states.

The first absentee ballots were made available to Civil War soldiers in 1864. State approval of “no excuse” absentee voting and early voting options has grown steadily in the past twenty years.

Early voting is convenient—typically no long lines. It’s generally quicker. The electorate likes it: 15% voted early in the 2000 election, 20% in 2004, and about 25% in 2006. In the 2008 presidential election, about one-third of all votes cast were submitted via some non-traditional voting format, i.e. something other than standing in a line on Election Day in order to cast a ballot.

Some people argue early voting results in partisan bias. When it was first tried, maybe, in that only certain kinds of voters tended to participate. Now, though, as early voting has become more common, a more diverse cross-section of the public vote early. No clear partisan advantage can be consistently demonstrated.

Some argue early voting increases state election costs, and people argue on both sides of the encourages/discourages turnout debate. Yet states have found ways to keep costs contained and turnout results tend to follow known electoral patterns regardless of when people vote.

There clearly is, though, one downside of voting early. Thankfully it’s rare, but it’s still possible. It’s not a disadvantage for local, state, or federal governments necessarily, but it could be a bummer for the one who voted early.

What if you vote, say, 12 days before the election and something untoward develops in the campaign on the last day or two before Election Day? What if this development significantly changed your attitude toward the candidate for whom you voted? What if you now wished you’d voted differently, but your vote’s already been counted?

In 2000, just four days before the national presidential election, a DUI story broke about then-Governor and candidate George W. Bush. This story changed some peoples’ minds about Mr. Bush. How many is difficult to determine, and he did, after a few months and a court case, win the election anyway. But it nearly sank his campaign.

Still, as long as voter fraud can be prevented, and it has been thus far, states should adopt an early voting option. If the point is to get people to take their democratic responsibilities and privileges seriously and to vote, why not make it as easy for them as possible?

Early voting seems to be an option whose time has come. I vote for adoption of early voting in the State of Michigan.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at