There’s a few dark clouds, but no, the sky is not falling….

It’s a strange time in the political arena. In the presidential race, there are two major candidates that would seemingly be soundly beaten by anyone but their current opposition. Supporters and a core of voters are firmly entrenched on both sides. The rest of the voters (like me), can only muster a #phelpsface when presented with the candidates from the top three or four polling parties.

However, I do have reason to be hopeful. Where I live in Indiana, there are some good to excellent candidates in the down-ballet races. In the state and local elections, there are some really good options as well. My plan for this election cycle is not yet fully decided on the presidential ballot, but I am looking to vote in a way that will bring the needed conservative values on the state and local levels. I suspect that many agree with me.

I know the value of changing policy on a local level. I’ve spent my entire life in small towns throughout the Midwest. Local leaders can affect change that will impact jobs, the quality of schools, the availability and price of utilities, groceries, and who can build what and where. They have an important role. These leaders are people like you and me that need your prayers and support. Many of these people are not career politicians.

Years ago, when I lived in Missouri, I had a friend who was the Missouri state representative in our district. He was not schooled in political science or law. He had no college degree. He was a real estate man that had busted his tail making a living that saw things in our district that needed fixing. He ran and won his district several times. Term limits forced him to run for Missouri senate. He won that too. He was just a local guy that wanted to make things better. We should look for these type of people and support them.

There are people in your community that work to make a difference outside of politics. For example, I work toward collaboration among youthworkers, churches, businesses, and parents to make a difference in the lives of middle school and high school students through an organization called National Network of Youth Ministries. We strive to show students their true value, and give youthworkers the tools and encouragement they need to cooperatively reach the students in their community.

As you see the news reports, negative campaign ads, and all the other junk that screams for your attention, remember to look local. Look at the state candidates. Look at things going on in your community that you can join to make a real impact in the lives of the next generation.


Brent Lacy is a national conference speaker, author, and blogger. He serves as Rural Ministry Specialist for National Network of Youth Ministries in the Great Lakes Region. He lives in the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World” with his wife and three kids. If you’d like to see more of Brent’s work, visit MinistryPlace.net.  

 

Trump: Part 1

What a ride, huh?

It's a sticky wicket we're all in, us Republicans. By now, you've no doubt heard every argument possible from both sides of the issue about why you should or shouldn't vote for Donald Trump.

I've heard from the Trump fanatics who tell me we should vote for him because he's gonna change the world. I've heard from the #NeverTrump crowd (have I ever mentioned how much I detest hashtags?) telling me all the reasons I shouldn't. Christians are up in arms because we can't vote for a man so immoral.

What to do? What to do, indeed?

First off, here's links to two good articles from the Christian perspective. The first explains why Christians should NOT vote for Trump. The second explains why we, as Christians, SHOULD vote no matter who the choices are. I like both articles, as I think they both make valid points. And in the end, as a Christian, we're each going to have to make our own personal choice, through prayer and God's word, as to what we actually do come voting day in November.

But while it's been laid out there like its a simple black and white choice, it's not. And the truth is, I think it will do us all some good to try to grasp exactly why Trump is where he is, and discern, if we can, exactly what he stands for, especially before we simply state "I am," or, "I'm not." Because in reality, the GOP Establishment has yet to figure out why Trump has done so well, and Christians haven't done much better.

A couple weeks ago, I posted a transcript from Rush Limbaugh's show, where he states some of the same things I've been saying for the past few months. In the effort of full disclosure, I get quite a bit of my conservative news from Rush. Whether you like him or not, his take on what's going on in the world of Conservatism is usually pretty accurate, and long before Trump came on the scene, Rush was postulating that there is a huge conservative voting base out there that feels wholly disenfranchised from the Republican party they used to know. Moreover, Rush has stated for some time that there is a huge disconnect between the powers that be in Washington, and those of us "out there." And he's right.

Along comes Donald Trump, who recognized that disconnect and was able to tap into it. It really isn't a lot more complicated than that. I saw his appeal right away. Not that I was taken by him, but rather I saw why so many others were. But it's also important to understand why that disconnect was there in the first place, specifically within the Republican party.

Ronald Reagan was the last great Conservative, although George Bush Sr. and George Bush Jr. were no slouches. But George Bush Sr. got shafted by a 3rd party candidate in 1992 (sound familiar?) and George W. was sabotaged by a rabid, increasingly Liberal media that incomprehensibly was able to convince an uninformed public that it was somehow wrong to fight back against evil people who shamelessly attacked and killed 3000 innocent American citizens. But more on George W. later.

Stuffed in there was eight years of our first modern Liberal President, Bill Clinton, who actually did some smart things financially for the country (which was to sign bills into law that were coming out of a Republican congress) but who's Liberal agenda started us down a path of not only moral degeneration, but of social dependence on the government. The American public, after eight years, saw that this was not a good path, and voted a Conservative back into office, but George W. -- who did not campaign as a wartime President -- had 9/11 dropped into his lap, and that pretty dominated his entire two terms, forcing him to back burner some other issues that could have helped get some things back on track. (Mark my words -- George W. will go down in history as one of the truly great Presidents. Save this blog, so you can refer to this when that finally happens!)

For reasons only God can ascertain, the GOP ran the most moderate candidates they could find in the next two Presidential elections (just like the media said we should... hmmm...) and they promptly got their butts handed to them by a black man with a Muslim name who NOBODY had ever heard of prior to 2008. And who also happens to be so Liberal, he makes Bill Clinton look like Mickey Mouse.

Out of that frustration of not having a viable and electable candidate in those Presidential elections, the American public then handed the Democrat party the two biggest beatdowns they have ever suffered in the Midterm elections of 2010 and 2014. By landslides, they elected Republicans and Tea Partiers to majorities in both houses of Congress with the specific mandate of going to Washington to oppose the absolute moronic Liberal agenda of the Obama Administration. They promised to do just that in their campaigns, and we bought it and elected them.

Needless to say, they have failed in that mandate. But it's far worse than failure. They absolutely refused to put up a fight! The GOP Establishment has backed down at every turn, unwilling to make the tough decisions needed to turn around the Liberal agenda that's demoralizing this country. Unchecked, Obama's policies have been implemented without barriers, and even though they vowed to stop them, the GOP has done absolutely nothing to oppose him, which is what we elected them to do. (All that talk about getting along is hogwash. Neither side elects their officials so they'll "get along" with the other side. That's just media fodder.)

So, that's where we stand today. Enter Donald Trump.

Of the 17 candidates who jumped in the GOP Presidential race, only Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina were truly outsiders of the political scene. Ted Cruz is not a Republican, but rather a Tea Party member, with a voting history of opposing the GOP Establishment in Washington. So, he really was the outsider before Trump took that role.

To begin with, the Establishment candidates didn't stand a chance, not after 2010 and 2014. But Trump was able to tap into that disenfranchised base in a way that Carson and Fiorina couldn't. Sadly, Carson was too nice. Great guy, he really is, and one of my top choices. But for right now, in this climate, the base was looking for someone not only willing to fight, but PICK a fight, and maybe fight nasty if need be. Ben Carson is not that guy. Perhaps in another time and place, Carson could rise to the top. That would be nice.

Fiorina just couldn't connect, for similar reasons. Our side is looking for a bulldog, and we don't want that person to be a woman. We just don't. Someday, a woman will rise to the top of the Conservative ladder, and she'll do so for the right reasons. With grace, and skill, and purity. We just don't want to throw a lady into the depravity of Hillary Clinton, and watch them duke it out. That's probably a good thing.

But that's where Donald Trump thrives, and from the very beginning, he knew what he had to do to win. And that's get down and dirty, and not take any crap from anybody, including the media. It's what we've been begging our reps to do for years now, with no takers.

Meanwhile, the voting base was screaming "THANK YOU! FINALLY!" Somebody not only willing to fight, but willing to pick a fight, and willing to tell the media dopes to shove it, and to finally stop caving to all the PC nonsense.

So it's easy to see his appeal. He simply tapped into that disconnect Rush has been speaking about, a LARGE group of voters who were simply waiting for someone to come and get them. Trump did.

And the Indiana primary voting numbers prove this. In 2008, John McCain won the GOP Indiana primary with just over 330k votes. In 2012, Mitt Romney won with nearly 430k votes. Now get this: in this year's primary, Ted Cruz garnered almost 406k votes, nearly matching Romney's winning total from 2012, AND LOST! Trump nabbed 590,000 votes! Cruz got more votes than either Hillary or Bernie on the other side, but Trump almost matched their COMBINED totals with nearly 600k votes! There were over 1.1 million total Republican votes in this year's primary, an all-time record. In short, Trump got nearly 600k votes that haven't existed for years!

Why is he winning so big? How does a complete outsider, a man who had no political background, no campaign management to speak of, funded his own campaign and did no fundraising, and is as off-the-cuff as they come, beat the absolute best, most experienced politicians the GOP can throw at him? And they used every political tool they could to beat him -- still trying, in fact -- and he just keeps winning bigger and bigger.

How does that happen?

The Establishment can't figure it out because they are trying to put Trump, and view his campaign, in the traditional political box they all know so well. And Trump doesn't exist in that box. Never has. And he's not trying to reach the people that live in there so comfortably. He’s an in-your-face, say-what’s-on-his-mind, not-afraid-to-tick-someone-off, and not-back-down-from-a-fight kind of guy. With any other faults, he’s connected to the void, the base that's "Out There," the wild-card that no politician has had to deal with for a very long time. Sure, he’s pulling from some traditional GOP voters, and he's also pulling from some traditional Democrat voters as well, but the bulk of those nearly 600,000 votes mentioned above have come from voters who haven't been voting in a while. THAT'S why he's winning.

In the end, the Republicans AND the Democrats have nobody but themselves to blame for Donald Trump. The Democrats need look no further than the last eight years. I mean, if Obama has been so great, why would someone like Trump rise to the top and be so popular? If pandering to transgenders and people who want to kill policemen and burn down cities, and limiting people’s legal right to protect themselves is so great, and if gay marriage, growing the deficit, Christian-bashing, open borders, and Obamacare are such positives for America, then why in the world are so many people fed up to the point they’d support a candidate like Trump? Make no mistake, his appeal isn't just with Republican voters. One of the knocks on him by Conservatives is his past connections with Democrats. He's as popular with Democrat voters who realize the mistake they made in falling for Obama as he is with disenfranchised Republicans.

And Republicans have been screaming for someone to stand up and fight. And they found him. Quite frankly, I'm surprised there's as much backlash as there is. Both sides have been yakking about ousting the incumbents for the last several years. Now they have a candidate who looks as though he can get that done, and they're freaking out. Fickle kids, those voters.

There’s much more to consider here about Trump, and if you stuck with me this far, feel free to check out Parts 2 and 3, where I share why I believe not only why he’ll win big in November, but what I think we, as Christians, should do concerning the election. More to come….

Trump’s Visit to Indianapolis – and Why Hugs Were In Order

After attending the Donald J. Trump rally in Indianapolis, one thing is clear to me – too high of a percentage of the American public does not know how to speak to one another and debate ideas in an intelligent manner.  I know, I know - shocking revelation.  Hard to believe as I’m sure we’ve all changed our strongly held beliefs when someone on Facebook, Twitter, or in person has called us names, used profanity, and my favorite – commented with ALL CAPS followed by copious exclamation points!!!  At this point, please insert sarcasm.

After spending a few hours at the rally wandering around beforehand as well as after, my observations of the most ineffective forms of communication fall into the below 3 categories:

  1. Drunk In Love. Excuse the reference to Beyonce, but apparently it’s not just her and Jay-Z that feel this way.  Every rally and protest I’ve attended while living out in DC, along with the Trump rally, always yield the handful of protestors who are inebriated, totally high (not on life), and completely in love with their own illogical thoughts.  Case in point, the small band of protestors that ran around in circles letting me know that they spotted Trump “smoking a big fattie around the corner”.  They did not convince me.  Primarily because they were high as kites but also because I believe Trump is beyond his “fattie” stage.
  2. Emotional Vomit.  Whether you are African-American or Caucasian…heterosexual or homosexual…young or old…there’s nothing better than getting your point across with an emotional outburst. I immediately began holding a “#BlackLivesMatters” sign the moment I had someone angrily yell at me while leaving the rally.  And you illustrate how non-racist you are by making assumptions about others while yelling at them.  Just saying.
  3. Old School Yelling & Booing.  I walked around the Trump rally and checked it out from all sides.  There were about 4,000-5,000 people from my estimate.  I saw just about every demographic including an Amish man taking copious notes while Trump was speaking/yelling.  About every 7 minutes I’d see the same exact occurrence – a small group of people using their cell phones to capture 1-3 people getting calmly escorted out of the event by 2 security staff and 1 Trump staff member, while Trump was yelling “Get ‘em outta here!”  As I was very close by one of the protestors getting thrown out, I can assure you that only the 20 nearest people could hear the protestor and I don’t believe any of them were going to change their vote from Trump to Bernie or Hillary.  Likewise, Trump’s loud, boisterous speech that droned on for an hour probably didn’t sway most protesters in the crowd.  And I have to wonder - perhaps those who yell to get their point across, were not hugged enough by their mothers as children. Offer them a hug.

For those of you still thinking yelling, emotional outbursts, and getting high will support your cause, check out footage from the 1960s of sit-ins, marches, and peaceful gatherings that supported the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement.  They look starkly different from our protests today and they achieved far-reaching results.  Then take a moment to check out the Presidential primary debates of the 1980s.  To say they are starkly different than what we see today would be a gross understatement that only those high on pot or believing things can actually be free might miss.

Let me end with this.  I was fortunate enough to be standing in front of 3 teenagers that drove up from Terre Haute to check out Trump.  We talked for a bit and I learned this was going to be their first presidential election to be able to vote in and they wanted to get more educated on their options.  They were pretty quiet and wide eyed especially when a fairly well dressed man who was most likely in his 40s or 50s started booing loudly and ended up getting escorted out by security.  Watching this full grown adult act like a fool in front of these well behaved teenagers, reminded me that “stupid is as stupid does” (please reference above 3 forms of communication).  And as Trump would say “Don’t be stupid.”