Monday, February 27, 2012

Making a Connection

People complain that Mitt Romney doesn’t “connect” with people. What does that even mean—is it like in sixth grade, when my friend Bonnie and I skipped class so her mom could take us to the high school to see Ronald Reagan speak? I reached over the railing, and he shook my hand in the sea of other hands he shook. The star of “Bed time for Bonzo” shook my hand—oh, yeah, and the president! I felt connected.

I have to say I don’t agree with critics’ claims that Mitt can’t make a connection. I think he can, at least with me. Not because my bank account is in the millions. It isn't. I wouldn’t be opposed to that changing. Not because we share the same religion. We do. But so does Harry Reid. Not even because we are both Republicans. We are. As is Herman Cain.

I don't really even care about any of that. Yes, Mitt is kind—remember the story of when his business partner’s daughter went missing in New York and he shut down the offices so everyone could help find her (and they did)? Yes, Mitt is generous—he donates millions and millions of dollars to charity (and not just his church). And, yes, Mitt is a man of great standards and principles—beyond his religious activity, his body guard once described him as “Wicked smart and squeaky clean” (oh, yeah, he’s smart too—law and business degrees from Harvard—sheesh!).

But let's not forget what the biggest issues really are right now--ballooning debt, out of control spending, horrible foreign relations, the government spreading dangerously into too many aspects of our lives. We need someone who can get America back on the right path, someone who loves this nation and understands its unique and critical position in the world, and knows how to get our economy and our nation back on solid ground.

I don't care if he eats cheeseburgers off the dollar menu or shops at Old Navy. I don't care what kind of car and how many he drives. I don’t care about where he vacations (if people really cared about that wouldn't we be more outraged at Michelle Obama’s 19 vacations in the last three years--that we are helping to pay for?). I don't care if he feels my pain.

No, what I care about, what I relate to, is creating an America that my children can love the way I have, that they can feel pride and joy when the Boy Scout walks past in the parade carrying our nation’s flag. I want a president who holds our country to a higher standard, thereby holding each of its citizens to a higher standard that, because of our freedom and opportunities, we can reach and achieve. That's what I connect with.

I grew up in a small town in Idaho (I guess it’s pretty impressive we actually had presidential visits there). At age eleven, I started my first summer job, along with a few of my siblings, moving irrigation pipe in a nearby farmer’s wheat and potato fields. It was a far cry from the Boston suburbs or LaJolla, California. But it was an important part of America for me. It was where I learned what’s really important in life, and how abundantly we are blessed here in this great country. I don’t have to live the same lifestyle as someone else in order to connect with them. It’s our humanity, our desire for peace—our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that “connects” us. Those are things Mitt Romney stands for. Under his leadership, those are the things that will flourish, those are the things that will make our country the country I grew up loving.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Free Girls Clothes or Empty Promises?

I’m about to admit something that says way too much about me. My name is Courtney, and I like the Napoleon Dynamite cartoon. There. I said it. I know, it’s ridiculously stupid, and maybe even uncomfortable at times, but I find myself laughing out loud, and I’m afraid I even let out a snort or two the last time I watched it.

Why did I just confess this, you ask? Well, believe it or not, I actually find some interesting analogies in the show. Let me explain.

Last week, Napoleon’s friends were upset at each other, so he was trying to find a way to get them to talk. Naturally, he set up a trap. This was no ordinary Mystery Inc. trap, this was a good, old-fashioned, catch-a-rabbit-with-a-carrot trap. Deb came walking into the school hallway to find various signs hanging all around with “Free Girl Clothes” written on them and arrows pointing the way under a giant box propped up with a stick. Well, you can guess what happened: Deb said, “I like girl clothes,” and the next thing you know she’s tied up on a chair in the gymnasium—and no free clothes.

How many times do people offer lovely speeches with lofty promises and high hopes only to end up giving an empty box?

President Obama has dangled many carrots in front of us. He has promised Hope. He has promised Change. In 2009 he vowed, “Today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half.” He said he was, “taking responsibility right now in this administration for getting our spending under control.”

Well, unfortunately, those carrots have only lead to, that's right, an empty box.

This is what some politicians often do. But we have the responisbility to look past their words at their deeds. We have to look at what sort of person have they been throughout their lives? What are their beliefs and values? What have they done to serve and show leadership and make positive change in others' lives? What sort of country do they want us to be, and how will they help us get there?

So, the next time you see a “Free girl clothes” sign, ask yourself, “Will that really lead me to frilly skirts and ruffly blouses, or just to being tied to a chair in the dark gym?”

I, for one, believe in America, I believe in Mitt Romney. I believe he will lead us back to the America we love, and that he won't be pulling a string to trap us in an empty box full of empty promises.

Friday, February 10, 2012

First Amendment Fight--Holy War?

I’m seeing a disturbing pattern, and I don’t mean my husband’s Christmas tie.

During his recent speech at the National prayer breakfast President Obama described our time as “a time when it’s easy to lose ourselves in the rush and clamor of our own lives, or get caught up in the noise and rancor that too often passes as politics today.” Then he suggested we need to pray, “avoiding phony religiosity,” and listen to our Creator.

Well, I’m thinking that either Obama has lost himself in noisy politics, or, in order to avoid phony religiosity, he is just avoiding religion, or rather freedom of religion all together.

We all have been hearing about the current contraceptive controversy, but let’s look back at the recent little-publicized yet epic Supreme Court decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision.

With an astonishing, unanimous 9-0 margin, the Supreme Court slammed Obama’s view that the federal government can tell a church what ministers it must employ if the church violates anti-discrimination employment provisions. The administration claims that under our Constitution, clergy have no special protection. To that the majority ruled it is “hard to square with the text of the First Amendment itself, which gives special solicitude to the rights of religious organizations. We cannot accept the remarkable view that the Religion Clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization's freedom to select its own ministers." Take that.

The president has said, “it is our hope that people of goodwill can pursue their values and common ground and the common good as best they know how, with respect for each other.” But I think he’s sending the message that if the “best they know how” isn’t what he and the government want and think is best, then the government should step in. Even in religion.

When the Obama administration lost their fight on the standpoint of religious freedom and ministers, they tried reaching into religious freedom another way, which we’ve heard so much of lately, the contraception mandate.

I’m left to wonder what is next? Will Obama’s government decide appropriate Sabbath day activities, or decide who can or cannot be allowed into sacred facilities, or maybe even decide what religion, if any, people can practice and how? It’s pretty clear to me that no liberties, no Constitutional Amendments are off limits to President Obama’s stepping in and trying to regulate. Including freedom of religion.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Render unto Caesar

At the National Prayer breakfast this week, President Obama encouraged, once again, his notion of taxing the rich to give to the poor. This time he used Jesus to push his idea. Obama quoted Christ’s teaching that "for unto whom much is given, much shall be required."

Here’s the thing. Jesus Christ can say that, because, when it comes to God, it is true; Christians would agree that all we have comes from God, so it is just and reasonable to require much from us in return. The government, however, does not give us everything (yet), so they are not in the same position to require much from us.

Could we not say from these verses we’ll be judged for how we choose to use that which the Lord has given us—not that we’ll be judged by what the government forces us to pay?

When Christ said these words, I do not believe He was talking about fair taxes. In fact, in the same chapter, Luke 12, a man came to Christ, seemingly complaining about the unfairness of his brother’s inheritance:

13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:13-15).

Christ went on to remind them to lay up their treasures in heaven, not in the things of the earth.

And let’s not forget the inspiring account of the widow’s mite. The poorest of the poor giving her all. When Christ stood at the temple watching the wealthy put money into the treasury, a poor widow cast in just two mites. The Lord could have turned her away, telling her she didn’t need to give—let those who could spare more pay for her. But He understood that she would receive far more in return. Her sacrifice would strengthen her spirit, firm her faith. He understood that her self-reliance would foster self-respect. Christ, in His greater understanding could not deny those blessings of this faithful widow.

Interestingly enough, in the same speech where Obama suggested those who have the most should just take care of the poor, he also referred to the “Jewish belief that the highest form of charity is to do our part to help others stand on their own.” Christ understood this. He allowed the widow to offer her mites. He knew that self-reliance brings self-respect, and that it doesn’t come by taking away responsibility. He taught all people that where their treasure is, their hearts would be also. And although he taught us to love and serve and care for each other, He also instructed:

"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are C├Žsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt 22:21).