Policy Market Blog

Slavish Devotion: the wide road that leads to destruction

Martin Kennedy - Monday, October 07, 2019

Vietnam POW Jim Stockdale gave advice to those in challenging situations… not to confuse faith that you will prevail in the end with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality. 

The trade war imposes punitive taxes on consumers and businesses across Tennessee.  Our trade deficit, as predicted, has widened.  Over 1,100 economists (15 Nobel laureates) signed a letter urging the president not to impose tariffs on the people.   

We engage still in massive deficit spending.  A nation that lives the high life by racking up enormous debt is both unwise and immoral.  We borrow from our children and grandchildren without their consent. 

This reckless spending persisted under Republican control of the presidency and Congress.  That is a brutal fact of our current reality.     

Nary a foot of border wall has been constructed.  It is a broken promise… even if it wasn’t a smart solution.     

Against this backdrop where ‘fighting back’ provides a weak substitute for substantive policy, the current Republican candidates for U.S. senate jump to the president’s defense, eager to demonstrate their loyalty.    

Tennessee Republicans are deprived of a debate as they endure the loyalty contest between the candidates.  Not that it is genuine loyalty that animates their campaigns.  Rather, it is fear and subservience -- fear of the Trump trolls in the party and the consequent subservience so as to avoid a negative presidential tweet.

By castrating themselves, these candidates are rendered unworthy to represent a freedom-loving, independent-minded people. 

I’ll not hide my own posture toward the president.  Voters deserve to know a candidate’s mind.  He is a lout, a liar, and a loudmouth.    

You may disagree.  Some of my dear friends supported the president.  I think no less of them… or of you.  If I did not respect you, I’d not share my thinking with you.     

Support Trump, if you think him your lion, but recognize that those Republicans who pledge their loyalty are jackals with sharp teeth.  They lurk on the perimeter, in fear of the lion.  They wait to pick clean the carcass.

Harsh?  On the contrary, my judgment is that most Republicans are neither dumb nor corrupt in general.  They’ve assumed the posture of slavish devotion to Trump for political gain.  Power and position can seduce the best of men.      

They will scoff and dismiss my candidacy as the campaign of a hopeless idealist.  They will point to polling that suggests that Trump runs strong in Tennessee.

I do cherish the promise of America.  As for the polls, it’s my intention to drive them, not be driven by them.   

If I can persuade but fifty people, then we will have those fifty and with them a better state and a better nation.  Can I persuade a million?  If fifty can be persuaded, then a million is possible. 

Either way, there is no possibility of loss. 

God’s plan unfolds before us.  As a believer, I endeavor to cooperate.     

But some have promoted a strange Christianity, one that is infinitely adaptable and bends to our preferences.  I understand a Christ who taught that the wide path leads to destruction, that we must struggle to enter by the narrow gate.    

The road can be hard.  I fall short repeatedly.  Yet, I know this with certainty.  You should never embrace evil in the hope that, somehow, good might come of it.     

I come without money, without political connections.  I’m inspired by David who came without armor but slayed Goliath with a slingshot and a smooth stone. 

Some will try to distract us by pointing to the Democrats as if we should cower in fear of them.  Some of my best neighbors are Democrats.  I have Democrats in my extended family.    

This primary, or any primary, isn’t about the Democrats; it’s about us.  We need to engage fundamental questions: Who are we?  What are we about?    

Maybe you think Republicans are doing pretty well.  I say, We Can Do Better. 

Martin D. Kennedy PhD

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