Slander, libel and insults have become the unhealthy and uncivilised norm in US politics. It reached a new low after the October 8 vice presidential debate when an anti-Trump political action committee consisting of former Bush administration officials, The Lincoln Project, referenced a fly that landed on Vice President Pence during the debate as “the mark of the devil” and a “sign historically of sin.”
The MSNBC journalist rightly pointed out that the fly could have landed on anyone, as it did on President Obama back in 2010 when he delivered remarks on the Affordable Care Act, and trolling on either sides to demonise sitting presidents or vice presidents is disrespectful and disgraceful. And now there is murmur of conspiracies of inserting a nano-fly or video-alteration on Mike Pence, to boot.
Hey, @SteveSchmidtSES, I think you may be on to something: "A White House fly lands on President Barack Obama's face as he delivers remarks on the Affordable Care Act June 22, 2010." https://t.co/MdAC8luJir pic.twitter.com/XpJJHOX40R
— Sissy Willis (@SissyWillis) October 8, 2020
Perhaps both sides can take lessons from President Reagan who once quipped, “we can disagree without being disagreeable’, and regardless of whether one likes the individual holding the office, one should always respect the dignity of the Office of the President and Vice President. Ronald Reagan was one of the rare breed of tender-hearted warriors and consummate gentleman in the history of American presidents, and made it a point to have on both a jacket and tie when he entered the oval office.
Alas in the post-Reagan era U.S. politics has become toxic, rife with mendacities, low punches and devoid of common decency. However, on Wednesday night Vice President Pence was able to bring back a certain degree of civility and decorum, and the polls reflect the fruits of that effort with Reuters and Telemundo showing he largely won the debate.
SNAP POLL: Who won the Vice Presidential Debate?
— US Politics Polls (@USPoliticsPoll) October 8, 2020
Pence ‘aikidos’ Kamala Harris with Midwestern nice
As an article in the Los Angeles Times predicted one day before the debate, Mike Pence’s “Midwestern nice” could trip up Kamala Harris. Many people believed Harris’s aggression and ruthlessness as a prosecutor could “mop the floor” with Mike Pence, yet Pence’s “Midwestern nice” works more like Japanese martial arts ‘Aikido’ of redirecting attackers’ energy back to them.
Pence’s ally Mayor James Brainard of the Indiana city of Carmel describes how Pence is a gentleman who “treats people who have different opinions with respect” and “doesn’t stoop to the level of ridiculing people whose views he disagrees with” which worked to his favour when the last Democratic nominee for vice president, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, fell into the Midwestern-nice trap during the debate in 2016. Kaine’s repeated attempts to go on the attack and interrupt Pence made the senator look crazed and weirdly aggressive, while the future vice president look like the model of calm and civility.
Seeing how the polls show Pence in the stronger position, now The Lincoln Project seems crazed and weirdly aggressive by accusing Pence of conspiring with Satan. Sadly, this is the type of obnoxious and school-boy trolling that has replaced intelligent and civilised discourse in the Beltway, and it was no wonder Americans in 2016 got tired of these elitist ranting how they know better than the voters what is best for them.
If the individuals in The Lincoln Project really believe in satan and God, and know something about Bible scriptures, perhaps they would be wise to take counsel of what God actually says in the Bible.
Trump as Cyrus for persecuted Christians?
First, they would know of God’s sovereignty over the affairs of man and this world. God, not man or The Lincoln Project, raises up kings and puts down kings, whether it is Nebuchadnezzar, Obama, Cyrus or Trump. “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” (Psalms 75:6-8)
Second, given God’s sovereignty over whom he exalts and puts down, they should be wary and understand that “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18). When elitists and politicians assume a condescending and patronizing attitude towards American voters and insult their intelligence, it usually backfires.
Third, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” (1 Cor 1:27). Nobody expected Donald Trump to win in 2016, because he does not fit the worldly standard of what an “Establishment” president should look like. And indeed, the past four years the strong “experts” and the mighty “establishment” have been confounded and perplexed by this anomaly, because they have factored God out of their equation.
Finally, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12). The anti-Trumpers resent that evangelical Christians support the Trump-Pence ticket which has been the most pro-Israel and pro-Christian in American history, akin to a modern-day Cyrus. Increasingly Christians view the current administration as the only thing standing between their religious liberties and growing persecution, as witnessed in Democrat-run states during the pandemic lockdown. By focusing on ad hominem arguments against the person rather than broad policy discussions on the opposing values championed by the Trump and Biden administration, the anti-Trumpers are missing the point.
But perhaps a letter from Phoenix Seminary’s Professor Wayne Crudem to an anti-Trump Christian friend explains how the Trump-Pence administration supports Biblical values that Christians hold dear. As the letter summarised, over 80% of evangelical voters supported Donald Trump not because they liked him as a person but because he favored many policies which include their values: originalist judges; pro-life policies; a stronger military; a free-market economic system; lower taxes; fewer government regulations; strong support for Israel; a strong border wall and a secure border; restrooms, locker rooms, and single-gender sports teams should be restricted to people of one biological sex or the other; Biblical views of marriage and freedom of conscience (government should not force Christians to use their artistic skills to violate their beliefs).
In contrast, the increasingly far-left Democratic Party promote policies that violate Christian values: allow abortion up to the moment of birth; cripple our economy with overbearing government control and taxes especially with expensive Green New Deal; open borders and sanctuary cities in defiance of the law; weaken our military; abandon Israel; defund the police and increasing lawlessness; support activist judges that legislate rather than interpret the Constitution, perhaps even packing the court; use violence and intimidation to muzzle opposing views, similar to Chinese Communist Party’s playbook.
As such Professor Crudem notes it is not the fault of Christians that the Democratic Party is increasingly radicalised or RINO (Republican in Name Only) departed from Christian values. Given this and their barrage of attacks against evangelical Christians including VP Pence, he predicts it would not be a surprise if even more conservatives and Christians vote red come November, and deliver the message of “Mene, mene, tekel upharsin” (Daniel 5:25) to the Belshazzars.