If you have not heard, the pretty well known organization Focus on the Family has issued a “hypothetical” letter from 2012 describing how bad things will be in the US if Obama is elected. While I am not a huge fan of either Obama or McCain, I did want to comment on this letter since it will influence some people. First off, however, you should read the letter here: link to pdf.
In ways similar to “liberal” environmentalists who believe in the “hockey-stick effect” in the weather, this letter makes no attempt to hide this method of interpretation. Secondly, the author assumes that the Democratic far-left will take control of both Congress and the White House (as well as possibly the Supreme Court). This assumption is hugely misleading because the number of seats in Congress that are not already “sealed in stone” are very few. In the Senate, it is quite likely that Republicans will gain seats. In the House, it looks like the Democrats stand to gain around 8 seats. That doesn’t sound like “the far-Left segments of the Democratic Party gain control of…the Congress” (p1). Now, on to each point.
Many of our freedoms have been taken away by a liberal Supreme Court and a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate, and hardly any brave citizen dares to resist the new government policies any more (p2). I’ve already discussed the possibly changes in Congress this election. However, we should also remember that there is another election 2 years for the House and some Senate seats. If things go horribly wrong over the next year, there is still another election cycle in 2010. Additionally, every justice nominated by the President must be confirmed by the Senate. Currently in the Senate, there are 49 seats for each the Democrats and Republicans with Independents having the remaining 2. The Republicans just need to gain a single seat to have the majority (and thus “control” of the Senate), which is a plausible scenario at the moment. So, even if Obama nominates an extremely liberal judge, he will need the support of all 49 (or possibly less) Democrats as well as some Independent or Republican support to get the nominee confirmed into office. The hype is furthered by assuming that beyond the two expected Justice resignations, two more conservatives resign as well. This would be highly unexpected and should fall in the realm of fantasy rather than plausible speculation. Yet, there is even more fantasy as the author then suggests that the Supreme Court justices begin to make laws by ruling wily-nily on anything they feel like. This shows a complete lack of understanding the judiciary system in the US. Supreme Court justices cannot simply pick any case in existence. These must be brought up by appeals to the US Supreme Court. Lastly, even if the Supreme Court ruled a law unconstitutional, it does not mean the opposite is suddenly made into law. These laws must be made through the proper channels (i.e. Congress).
Same-sex marriages allowed. Who cares? This is a moral issue and not a political one. Same-sex marriages becoming a constitutional right does not suddenly mean that the presidency becomes a dictatorship. There is no secret code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, A, B, select, start) that Obama can utilize which changes the Constitution. Again now: so what if same-sex marriage is a constitutional right? This does not mean that an ordained minister will be forced to perform these, nor does it mean that this will need to be accepted by all religious groups. After all, abusing legal substances (alcohol, tobacco, etc) and adultery are legal in the US, yet most churches don’t look nicely upon these things.
Boy Scouts disband. The author’s next worrisome point is that the BSA disbands because they are pressured into either disbanding or accepting homosexual leaders. The author fails to fully understand the last major action in the Supreme Court regarding this in which the Boy Scouts were allowed to exclude certain people from their organization because they were a private organization. This won’t change in the next four years. The author also notes that the Boy Scouts hcould no longer use public facilities because Civil Rights were expanded to include homosexuals. Guess what? There are such things as private facilities. In fact, I know many BSA troops which meet at churches (and, therefore, do not need to follow government policy on using public facilities).
Gender identity in elementary schools. So what if the schools teach that homosexuality is legally accepted? There are private schools if one is concerned. Secondly, the author mentions that Congress passes a law which makes this type of education compulsory. Let’s look back at Kansas’s fun with evolution and creationism. Remember when Kansas made evolution optional and allowed the teaching of creationism? It was reversed in less than two years. Why? New board members. Let’s assume that Obama really pushes and gets gets gender identity into public schools. I’d give it 2 years–tops–before it’s reversed. Why? First off, these standards come from the states, not the federal government. Secondly, evn if Congress (the one with Republicans most likely in control of the Senate remember) did pass something like this, those who did vote for it with conservative constituents wouldn’t be in office come their next election (which for the House is just 2 years away). Additionally, the author argues on the grounds of the adoption issue Catholic Charities in Massachusetts (link), private schools will also be forced to follow Civil Rights actions. However, the author fails to realize that gender is already within the Civil Rights Act and yet there are single-sex private schools (I went to one). Furthermore, the article which the author uses states clearly that private instutions need to follow these non-discrimination laws when they must be licensed by the state (as adoption agencies in Massachusetts need to do). However, as I’ve mentioned single-sex schools, this is not the case when it comes to educational institutions.
Civil Rights extended to homosexuals. The author uses numerous instances of this same subject, so I will address them together. The author argues that once Civil Rights is extended to include homosexuals, doctors, lawyers, counselors, and social workers as well as wedding ceremonies at churches will no longer be able to discriminate against homosexuals. Like other anti-discriminatory laws, these must be passed by either state law or federal law, which again falls back on assuming a huge overpowering of Congress at both the state level and federal level–something that will not be happening any time soon.
Public broadcasts cannot criticize homosexuality. The author cites recent actions in Sweden and Canada. Guess what my first response is? You got it: who cares? There are plenty of topics to discuss and exhaust without needing to criticize homosexuality on public broadcasts. If you still don’t like it, use a private broadcast (such as internet media, broadcasting on private channels, etc). I’m also glad that the author mentions Sweden since I now know two people who have taught theology in Sweden (one is at the Stockholm School of Theology, the other was at the University of Lund) who say that this is still a raging debate. In other words, it isn’t over yet.
The removal of “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this phrase was not part of the original Pledge. It was adding in the 1950s in order to create a greater difference between “Christian” America and “atheist” Russia during the Cold War.
Religious Speech outlawed on public school campuses. Here is more hype-filled thinking. Public schools will not stop allowing organizations to rent facilities because of the organization’s beliefs. Nor will public schools reject prayer in school because these must go through Congress at both the state and federal levels.
Abortion. Again, the author suggests that if Obama is elected, all hell will break loose. Morals will be unhinged, societies will crumble, etc. The author writes that immediately after Obama is elected, Congress (again, the one which has the Republicans in a considerable minority and possibly even a majority in the Senate) will practically undo everything conservatives have done against abortion since Roe v Wade.
Pornography. The author writes that the FCC decency laws will be removed and kids will be unable to not see nudity. This has been the case in the UK for many years. The daily tabloid paper The Sun is easily available on any newspaper rack and is known for its “Page 3″ which features a topless (or sometimes even nude) photo. The best part, however, is that this paper is owned by none other than Rupert Murdoch, owner of Newscorp and FOXNews.
Gun Control. Here’s another of my who cares? The UK has outlawed private gun ownership for many years and it has survived just fine. For this to occur in the US is nothing short of a miracle (Supreme Court overrulling its previous decisions, Congress passing an amendment to the Constitution, and that amendment being ratified by a majority of the 50 states). Even if it did happen, it would not mean that mean could no longer hunt (yes, there is hunting here in the UK) or do anything that requires a gun except protecting one’s own property and family.
Home Schooling. Like above with civil rights being extended to homosexuals, this is something that is primarily up to state law. The author writing for Focus on the Family argues that the “liberal” government will follow the ruling in California under In Re: Rachel L. While the author does mention that this is overturned shortly afterwards, he does fail to mention that this ruling was consistent with California state law.
Iraq. The author writes that after US troops withdraw from Iraq, al Qaeda takes over the country. First off, this is a misunderstanding of al Qaeda since it operates as a non-governmental organization. They are not interested in taking over any country and this has not happened in any country yet. Secondly, who cares? We should not be the policing force of the entire world; let them handle their own problems.
Terrorists. The author writes that there are four terrorist attacks in the US and that those who are responsible have not been captured. How is this any different from 9/11? Besides the few cell members who are suspected of being involved in the 9/11 hijackings, our government has had little success in actually tracking, capturing, and/or prosecuting any famously known terrorists (such as Osama bin Laden).
Foreign problems. The author is stuck in the Cold War and believes that Russia will invade and take over much of the former USSR. Similar things happen in South America. Even if this does happen, who cares? Refer back to above where we are not the policing force of the world.
Healthcare. The author thinks that Obama will get universal healthcare instated right away. Since I am currently living in the UK, it is actually a viable option. It does have problems, but so does the current system in the US. There are no perfect solutions to the problem, but the flipside is also true: no solution currently in use in the world is so seriously flawed that it will destroy society. The author demonstrates a pitiful lack of knowledge of how healthcare operates anywhere outside of the US.
Taxes. The author argues that Obama will increase taxes. Unfortunately, every President has increased taxes to the point where expecting the opposite is ridiculous. Taxes in the UK for most people is 20%; higher income is 40%. There are no local/state taxes nor taxes for necessity items. VAT (basically sales tax for everything else) is 17.5%. However, there are very few people in the UK who are unable to live on minimum wage.
Energy. The author argues that high gas prices are a bad thing. In other countries (both the UK and Canada), gas has been expensive for a while. Here in the UK, it hovers around £1 per litre, which works out to around $6 per gallon with the current exchange rate. Guess what? They survive. Even public transportation is pretty costly here. However, as I mentioned just above, few people are not able to live on minimum wage.
Media Fairness. All media outlets will be required to air counterpoint arguments immediately after one side (i.e. something like Al Franken following Rush Limbaugh). Furthermore, Barnes and Noble will be unable to sell books from Christian publishers (who will fall apart without these sales). Again, these “fairness” laws will need to go through Congress (rinse and repeat). If major booksellers are pressured by the public to get rid of religious books, it won’t be as horrible as the author makes it out to be. Look at the bookshelves of Barnes and Noble and Borders and count how many shelves have Christian books? The most I’ve counted as 12 shelf sections. That was out of over 200 sections. Of course, this will not be an issue in Christian bookstores such as LifeWay and Family Christian Stores since these books are the only they have.
Prosecuting Bush. With all of these things going on, Obama will also prosecute the Bush administration for the Iraq war. Unless there was actual criminal activity, this won’t ever happen because criminal prosecution requires criminal activities (and if there were, they should be prosecuted).
Let me summarize my critique of this “Letter from 2012.” The author shows an ignorance of how politics works in the US, current composition (as well as plausible changes) of Congress, the limits of each part of the government, and politics in other countries. Let’s face it: if Obama is able to do all of this in one term of office, he will have been the most active and most influential president in US history. And for all that it’s worth, I don’t think he’s nearly as strong (politically) as the conservatives make him out to be.