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Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm recently tweeted:

"Another guy guv admits 2 cheating on his wife. Maybe we need more women governors. Guys: keep ur pants zipped, for Pete's sake. #Arnold"

Of course Governor Granholm was referring to scandal news plaguing the house of Schwarzenegger wherein he admitted having fathered a child some thirteen or more years ago by a woman other than his wife of twenty-five years, Maria Shriver. And to add insult to injury he’s apparently kept it from Maria and all others since. In other words, he’s lived a lie for more than a decade in front of his wife, four children, and the California citizenry.

Some have suggested former Governor Granholm would not have made this comment relative to a Democrat. But I think this is unfair and sells her short. Plenty of people are fed up with male politicians’ blatant sexual infidelities demonstrating their lack of character if not also lack of wisdom, and to feel this way isn’t about partisanship.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is just the latest secret sex saga. We’ve been subjected to a running tally of these stories: Dominique Strauss-Kahn—the former IMF chief recently accused of rape, Eliot Spitzer—the former New York Governor now turned CNN anchor (I still don’t know what CNN is thinking)—cross-state-lines prostitute scandal, Mark Sanford—the former South Carolina Governor with an Argentine “soulmate,” David Patterson, John Ensign, David Vitter, James McGreevey, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, or way back, Gary Hart, Ted Kennedy. Even John McCain and Newt Gingrich get into the act if you check their record. And there are many more both present and past if you reach back even further, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, FDR.

So it may be that former Governor Granholm is correct. Maybe we do need to elect more women political leaders.

It's not to say that women are invulnerable to infidelity or so-called philandering. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in birds-n-bees to recognize that women were involved in nearly all these stories (McGreevey being one exception). But still, I'm with Governor Granholm on this one.

I’m ready to give women with character an opportunity to lead.

 

© 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 www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Good public discourse, open dialogue and discussion in the marketplace of ideas, is a staple of democracy. Without it there is no chance for government of, by, and for the people.

For good public discourse to take place certain requisites or attributes must be put in place within the body politic.

--People must embrace, then instill in culture and government, basic human rights: freedom of worship, freedom of speech, even expression, right to life, law, and order based on a public moral consensus.

--People who believe in objective truth.

--Freedom of expression must be recognized, protected, and preserved in law.

--People must respect others, which is to say, they must listen, which is to say, a certain discourse etiquette must be established.

--Absence of decorum in public discourse is a seed of the destruction of the marketplace of ideas.

--Discourse depends upon not necessarily an educated public, in the sense of formal schooling though this is good, but upon an informed public.

--For discourse to result in general wellbeing, that is, for democracy to work and for it to last, people must cultivate moral virtue, that is, a capacity to recognize good and to choose it—this only comes in acknowledging the place and purpose of religion.

--For discourse to function freely and productively to good ends, people must understand that disagreement can serve the good if it is based upon critiques of ideas and not upon criticism of ones holding the ideas.

--The degree to which disagreements degenerate to people upon people attacks is the degree to which disagreements no longer serve the public good.

Discourse that is little more than shouting matches, i.e. an absence of decorum, is what most radio and television talk shows have become. It is what much of electioneering or political campaigning has become.

Calling leaders in the political opposition derisive names or using cartoons and other materials to demean members of the political opposition in the name of humor does not credibly advance ones ideas. It’s actually a show of weakness. If you can’t win a point in discussion via moral suasion than you attack the other speaker or posture loudly to out shout the other. Weakness.

It seems today that if you disagree with someone you are ipso facto believed to be attacking the person. So it goes in our politically correct culture. Yet meanwhile and ironically, verbal attacks upon people with whom you disagree have become the order of the day. The American body politic desperately needs to rediscover the values and rules of engagement for discourse modeled by the Founding Fathers.

 

© 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 www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

Someone once said, “Where you stand on an issue depends upon where you sit.” True, none of us see the whole picture because in our humanity we can only look from certain angles. We're limited by space, time, and finiteness.

We forget the past, sometimes a blessing, sometimes a dangerous weakness. We can’t see the future, not really, not even tomorrow. But we’re still divinely given the ability to reason and learn, and we’re divinely charged with exercising stewardship, which is to say making responsible decision, during the days of our lives.

Right now, we need to make some key and good decisions about America, because this is “our day” and our country and culture, sorry to say, are in trouble. As in our individual lives, most of our trouble we made for ourselves. Sure, some of it happened to us without our volition or contribution—maybe others are responsible, maybe environmental developments. But most of it happened because we did some things and didn’t do other things. In the end, why and how things happen do matter, but it matters more how we go from here.

One brief blog couldn’t begin to summarize all we need to do to get America back on track, even if everyone stood in the same place and agreed on how to proceed. But at least we can make a few suggestions on some big issues:

--Identify leaders with ideals, moral courage, resolve, an unshakeable belief in American values, and an optimistic vision of its future—capable of restoring America’s hope. I’m not talking about platitudes but transformational conviction. I’ve yet to hear from President Barack Obama, Congressman John Boehner, or anyone on the Right, Left, or even in the Tea Party who is truly willing to speak forthrightly with passion, logic, and good ideas. We’ve lost confidence in our selves, our values, and the idea of progress toward a better tomorrow. This, for a culture and a country, is stagnating and potentially deadly.

--Bring American troops home from Afghanistan. I’ve written about this before. Political leaders in Washington, D.C., no matter the party, cannot articulate a cogent and coherent rationale, that makes sense, for this war’s continuance. It’s costing us blood and treasure for no foreseeable gain.

--Develop a national budget that actually addresses the profound national debt and budget deficits we keep building like there’s no tomorrow. Not to be melodramatic, but if we keep living beyond our means, pushing the budget-cut-pain into the future, there may not be a tomorrow for our culture, our country, or our children.

--To attain such a budget, entitlements for seniors like Medicare and Social Security, and a whole list of other sacred cows amounting to about 93% of the national budget must be discussed and curtailed. Anyone who says, which right now includes most politicians in Washington, D.C., that we can balance the budget, much less reduce the debt, without touching these programs is either a dissembler or a financial boob.

--Develop and pass a reasonable, common sense immigration reform law that honors American identity, protects our borders, preserves our laws, and allows illegals a path to citizenship while respecting their humanity. This sounds like a mouthful, but if we could get past partisan posturing and idealist notions that anyone should be permitted entry for any reason, we could reform the system. Right now, border agents are at risk, illegal drugs, guns, and people are coming across borders regularly, and illegals already here are being placed on healthcare and welfare rolls with no visible means of making their own way. Meanwhile, what it means to be an American—and I don’t mean this chauvinistically or worse, racially—is being diluted to nothing. Other countries identify their national character and boundaries; why can’t we?

As I said, we need to do more. But if we could pull off this much we’d be well down the track to getting America rolling again. I’m wondering when we can find a few honest, bold leaders with the vision and capacity to lead when others are not yet following.

 

© 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 www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

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 www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

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 www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

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 www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.