Issues can be defined as how they are addressed, as well as how they are ignored.
Tonight’s second Republican debate will continue to show the Party’s priorities, as well as what issues they choose to avoid. While taxes, regulation, defense spending and anti-Obama rhetoric are all expected fodder for tonight’s debate, viewers should also take note of front-runner Ben Carson’s odd and ominous anti-government statements and how they combine with his religious fundamentalist end-times vision, and mis-readings of history.
While Carson’s statements by themselves are disturbing enough, what emerges from his interviews and speeches, are views that dovetail with the anti-federal government actions that have long been displayed by the anti-Obama Liberty Caucus, as well as the Tea Party.
For instance, Carson said if Jews were better armed, they could have protected themselves better or prevented Hitler from coming to power by militarily defeating Nazi thugs. Carson’s point is that an armed citizenry is paramount, even if the historical context is wrong. The importance of an armed citizenry against an unpopular, fascist, repressive government is Carson’s main point and one which has been already decoded by the far right.
Carson’s end-days religious doctrine that is part of his observance as a Seventh Day Adventist, an evangelical belief focused on salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Yet while the Church insists on the separation of church and state, appealing to evangelicals is critical and it emerges in his political rhetoric.
According to Terry James of Rapture Ready, “end-times politics are upon this generation, as is understood by those with spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear.” He says “end-times politics pervade every aspect of life in the United States today,” whether it be in unabashed commercialism, entertainment, finance, and politics.
James also writes that “the politicians and the self-iconizing politics the majority of them practice” help set the stage for the apocalypse, especially the hubris in the form of the uncontained pursuit of wealth.
He does not specifically refer to Donald Trump (estimated net worth: $4 billion) or Carson’s money making deals, but his point has been accepted by both Democrats and some Republicans. (The Wall Street Journal estimates Carson could earn up to $30 million this year from speeches, book royalties, and board positions.)
But money drives today’s elections and candidate Carson was so motivated that he suspended his presidential campaign in October for two weeks to go on a book tour. Presidential candidates are prohibited from accepting speaker’s fees while running for president, so the book tour was a legitimate, if impolitic, break. Still, his followers did not seem to mind that boosting his personal income took precedence over discussing policy matters with the voters.
Watch for the Politics of Prophecy
There is also the issue of the politics of prophecy. Part of this philosophy endorses “the right to alter or abolish the government” since “God makes nations, but men make governments, according to Gerald R. Thompson of the Lonang Institute. Followers of this philosophy hold that the American Revolution was the first, and unfortunately, the last time the people were able to exercise their rights to overthrow what is now called the federal government.
Among the reasons for an overthrow or insurrection is that individual rights are being abused or eliminated on a mass scale. No specifics are provided on the Lonang Institute’s web site, but they could be related to claims by 2016 Republican candidates that the rights of Christians to freely worship are being curtailed (Mike Huckabee) or that the rights of the unborn (who cannot vote) are being eradicated via abortion or some fabricated Frankenstein scenario (Chris Christie.)
Even Senator Marco Rubio, a friend says, “hates the Senate,” which is an odd thing
to say for a standing senator who makes $174,000 annually, plus a tremendous pension plan that eludes most in the private sector. Plus, if you hate the Senate, how can you run for president if you have to work with Congress on a daily basis?
Maybe that is an old-school interpretation because the Liberty Caucus, comprised of just 36 hard-core right Republicans, has already taken the rabid opposition position for the past eight years since the night of Obama’s first inauguration parties, that you do not have to work with your fellow Congress people, just oppose everything presented to you and collect your salary ($174,000 annually), compared to the national median family income of $64,000 in 2015.
This national median family income also includes members of the Tea Party who have amazingly lined up to vote against their own economic self-interests by endorsing Republican candidates that have vowed to convert Social Security into a fee-ridden private system complete with individuals assuming all investment risks, as well as making health care more expensive by privatizing that, as well as the U.S. Postal Service.
So as the Republicans make their pro-market, anti-regulation, anti-environmentalism, anti-Obama pitches tonight, listen closely for any references to an end-times, apocalyptic scenario that will accompany the right-wing coup now in progress.
Also, listen for any candidates who have a sense of history and for any explanation that ties the recent wars that contributed to the federal deficit or why the recession continues today because Congress was intentionally paralyzed from delivering any new job creation or tax relief programs. Maybe it’s the things we won’t hear tonight that will be the ones to haunt us in the coming years.