The Most Important Elections of 2017

Following the great electoral surprises of 2016 – Brexit, Donald Trump’s victory – what can we expect from 2017?

Earlier this year, the Dutch election was seen as something of a barometer for the political winds in Europe. There were a few notable trends from that election. One is obvious: the dramatic increase in the vote for the right-wing populist Party for Freedom and its controversial leader, Geert Wilders. But Wilders brand of politics seemed too extreme for Dutch voters, and though his numbers increased over the previous election, the big winner was the mainstream conservative candidate, Mark Rutte, the incumbent Prime Minister.

The left in the Netherlands collapsed during the election, with the Labor Party taking a staggering hit. The party won only nine seats, down 29 from the previous election. Rutte has multiple potential coalition partners. Both the Christian Democratic Appeal and the Christian Union are members of the mainstream right and could work with Rutte, as would the Democrats `66, a centrist, liberal party. The Green Party has also been mentioned as a potential coalition partner.

The election made its mark on the European political landscape. The other elections that will shape the conversation in 2017 merit our attention.

Today, Ecuadorians go to the polls to determine their next president. One of the most interesting political stories of the 2000s decade was the “pink tide” of leftist candidates that swept Latin America. Led initially by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, the wave swept leaders like Dilma Rousseff and Lula in Brazil, the Kirchners in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa into power.

But, as they often do, the political winds are shifting. Argentina elected a pro-business conservative president in 2015, ending decades of populist rule. Dilma Rousseff was impeached following a corruption and budgetary fraud scandal. Peru rejected populists from the left and right and elected center-right technocrat Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who so far is proving to be a capable leader in the Americas. Looming over all of this is the deepening crisis in Venezuela. It would be laughably unrealistic to call Venezuela a democracy in 2017. Everyday life for Venezuelas is marked by misery, food shortages, violence, and political repression.

Ecuador’s socialist government has been far more successful economically than its counterpart in Venezuela. Though the economy has slowed in Ecuador in recent years Correa remains relatively popular. But the tide across South America is turning against the left. Lenin Moreno, a likable and compared to Correa soft-spoken figure, still seems to be the favorite (Moreno is the candidate of the ruling PAIS Alliance). But Guillermo Lasso, a businessman and conservative candidate, managed to force a second round to the election, and stands a chance of upsetting Moreno. If Lasso becomes the next president of Ecuador, the pink tide will truly be in massive, long term decline, and the Maduro regime in Venezuela will lose a critical ally at a critical time. It will have reverberations across the continent and the hemisphere at large.

France is holding a presidential election, and right-wing populist Marine Le Pen has a strong chance. Mainstream candidates have faced serious problems. Incumbent President François Hollande declined to run for reelection in the face of single-digit approval ratings. His party’s new candidate seems to be missing in action. Mainstream conservative nominee François Fillon has been hurt by allegations he used his influence to give jobs to family members. And Emmanuel Macron, an insurgent liberal candidate, has made a strong showing but has made some missteps along the way.

A majority of French voters seem to be opposed to Le Pen. But she is highly likely to make it to the second round, where she will either face Macron or Fillon. Both have flaws that Le Pen can exploit. Fillon is seen by many in France as a member of a corrupt, self-enriching political elite, and he has fallen to third place following allegations of corruption. Macron is seen as inexperienced and by many conservative French citizens, far too soft on immigration. A Le Pen victory is unlikely but it is by no means unthinkable. Polling shows her losing, but polling failed to predict Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the last British election, and in France opinion polls dramatically underestimated Fillon’s support during the primary.

The French election will be held on April 23, with the second round occurring on May 7. It is looking likely that the election will be a race between Macron and Le Pen, with Fillon perhaps capable of making a run for it in the first round. Either way, Le Pen’s presence on the French political scene will be a test for the European Union. If Macron or Fillon emerges as the next President of France, the European Union and the European project as a whole will have received a lifeline. If Le Pen wins, Europe will never be the same again, and a French exit from the European Union would be a very real possibility. And the new President would strongly support such a move.

Similarly, the German election, held this September, will be a test for the EU. Angela Merkel has been Chancellor for ten years, and has seen strong economic growth during that time. However, her refugee policy alienated many Germans, and the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany has begun to gain ground on Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. Meanwhile, the Social Democrats are hungry for a return to power, and their new leader Martin Schultz is mounting a campaign to return to the majority in the Reichstag building.

Polls show the SPD and the CDU in a dead heat, which would make coalition building a major factor. The CDU’s traditional coalition partners, the libertarian and classical liberal Free Democratic Party, was shut out of parliament the last time Germans went to the polls in 2013, and though its poll numbers are better this year it is conceivable they will fail to meet the threshold. The SPD seems willing to work with the Left, the former East German ruling communist party, though this prospect alarms many moderate German voters. The Alliance `90/Green Party may be a coalition partner for the SPD, or even for the CDU.

Of course, polling is not everything. A recent local election in Saarbrucken handed a massive victory to the CDU in defiance of polling. It is still early, and this story will be developing greatly over the summer.

Sometimes elections are a test as to whether a country remains a democracy. Such a campaign is happening in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to pass a constitutional referendum giving him sweeping new powers. The No campaign has faced intimidation and repression throughout the process, and Erdogan’s government has cracked down on both the Gulenist movement that he blames for a failed military coup d’état attempt last summer as well as Kurdish groups. The largely secular Kurds of Turkey stand in the way of Erdogan’s goal of a nationalist, Islamic Turkey.

If the referendum passes, and especially if it appears to have been rigged, Turkish democracy will have suffered. Turkey can probably forget about joining the European Union any time soon, and Europe would be foolish to admit Turkey anyway. The referendum is highly likely to pass, fairly or not. If it does, large scale protests against it are possible, and Erdogan’s profile in the international community may take a significant hit.

Finally, the South Korean presidential election will have reverberations across Asia. Park Geun-Hye, the conservative president, has been impeached, and new elections have been called. The center-left Democratic Party stands a strong chance of taking the Presidency. What may result is a less aggressive stance toward North Korea, which could deter the Trump administration from taking military action. The candidates for all of the parties have yet to be formally nominated, so it is difficult to say a great deal about the nature of the election.

These votes are occurring in vastly different parts of the world, but each has the potential to affect politics in countries near and far. Watching each play out will be a fascinating political story of 2017.

Advertisements

A New South Carolina?

The fall of the confederate flag on the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol last year marked a rather significant turning point for the state. South Carolina, as articulated by its governor, the conservative and forward thinking Nikki Haley, is looking toward the future, not the past. The past, for South Carolina, is often an unpleasant thing. The first state to leave the union in 1860. The place where the confederates first fired on their own nation’s troops. The place where Jim Crow was responsible for such atrocities like the execution of a 14 year old black boy for a crime he didn’t commit and a governor that boasted of killing black people.

Haley is turning the page, and looking toward a future of a strong South Carolina that is a hub for innovation and growth. South Carolina today is home to advanced manufacturing with modern factories that build, among other things, BMW cars and Boeing jet planes. Haley has combined the appeal of a reformer who is fixing an outdated system (in the state legislature she often drew the ire of the state’s political establishment) and that of an optimist. She famously instructed state employees to answer the phone at work with “it’s a great day in South Carolina.” She’s fought battles with the legislature, and has used her public profile to push her issues.

The results seem to be positive; Haley is popular. Unemployment, well north of 10% when she took office, is now below 5%. Her name is being discussed as a presidential contender of the future, and with good reason. She is leading her state to a brighter future, a process symbolized by the removal of an old symbol of racism, hate, and the state’s dark past. But the changes in South Carolina run much deeper than that.


Film Review: Kissinger (2011)

Henry Kissinger is one of the figures who looms large over American politics. He is probably the most significant influence on American foreign policy in the 20th century. This film, released in 2011, is a series of interviews with the former Secretary of State, and it provides a unique insight into his career.

At one point in the film, Kissinger recounts his escape from Nazi Germany and his service in the US Army in WWII. As he drove through the German countryside, signs in villages stated that Jews were not welcome there. Years later, returning as a soldier at the conclusion of the war, he saw a concentration camp, the horrific conclusion to the hate that Kissinger witnessed in his youth.

It is also a window into Nixon’s presidency. That being said, viewers of the film who may have been hoping for a definitive portrait of Nixon’s personality will be disappointed. Kissinger tells the interviewer (British journalist Niall Ferguson) that it will take a Shakesphere to properly write about Nixon. It is telling that Kissinger, who was closer to Richard Nixon than almost anyone outside his immediate family (the two met for long periods on a daily basis) did not consider the 37th president to be a close friend. Nixon and Kissinger were able to dramatically change the Cold War for the better.

The Cold War had been going badly by the time Nixon came into office. Many Americans felt Vietnam was unwinnable, and the USSR was on the advance. Kissinger developed a three point strategy to combat the spread of the USSR. One was to pursue détente with the USSR, another was to open up relations with China, and the third was to negotiate a ceasefire in Vietnam. Kissinger spoke of the skills of Le Duc Tho, his Vietnamese counterpart at the Paris negotiating table, who was very firm in the pursuit of North Vietnamese objectives. He defends Nixon’s decision to increase the bombing of North Vietnam (and North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces in Cambodia) as necessary to forge an agreement. This strategy proved to be, at least in the short run, successful: In 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed, and American involvement in Vietnam came to a close. Although the ceasefire would not last, it won Kissinger the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. The viewer is left to wonder if long term peace in Vietnam that would save South Vietnam’s independence was possible. The Paris Peace Accord, for all its strong points, was unable to do this.

One of Kissinger’s less flattering moments was his support of the military government in Chile. He seems slightly uncomfortable when the topic is discussed, but admits that he and Nixon were happy to see Socialist president Salvador Allende fall from power. While it must be admitted that neither Kissinger nor Nixon would have been aware of the terrible abuses of human rights that were to follow the 1973 coup, the support of the Pinochet regime and the opposition to Allende is rightfully regarded as one of the darker periods of United States history and in Kissinger’s career.

That being said, activities in Latin America were largely a side show and were of limited relevance. The Cold War played out mostly in Europe and Asia, and it was there where Kissinger’s diplomatic skills made an enormous positive impact. One of the most impressive of his achievements was the opening of the People’s Republic of China. The US had not had any diplomatic contact with Mainland China since the 1950s, and in order to arrange some communication, the State Department used an elaborate system where the PRC government would send handwritten messages through Pakistan to the US, and the US would reply with typed letters to China, also delivered by Pakistan. This seemingly antiquated method started an extraordinary shift in US foreign policy. Kissinger visited China, and initiated diplomatic contact with the PRC. He recalls meeting Mao Tse-Tung, who lived in modest accommodations and who in Kissinger’s estimation was one of a handful of figures who commanded the attention of a room when he walked in. Today, Richard Nixon’s visit to China is considered one of his biggest success and is a large part of his legacy. Kissinger was instrumental in this accomplishment. Having dealt with one communist power, Kissinger used the leverage the US had gained to form an arms reduction treaty with the Soviets. This treaty as well as the opening of China, were the spectacular apex of détente, and it took Kissinger’s extraordinary abilities

The film contained some lighter moments as well, noting his wit and his unusual reputation as a “secret swinger.” Kissinger responds with an amusing story of the origin of that term’s association with him. He did state that his famous quote “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac,” wasn’t what he wanted on his gravestone.

Kissinger admits that the 1973 Yom Kippur War took the administration completely by surprise. He attributes attention that had been focus on China, the USSR, Watergate, and the Vietnam Peace Talks as having taken overshadowed any potential trouble in the Middle East. This occurred at “the absolute low point of the Nixon presidency.” Kissinger states that it was made clear to the Arab states that while war would be supplied by Soviet arms, Peace would be supplied by American diplomats.

On Watergate, the looming giant issue of the Nixon presidency, Kissinger recalls a meeting with Nixon on the final day of his Presidency. He states that Nixon “had destroyed himself with his own effort with his own actions, and he knew that.” on the last day of his Presidency. He describes their private meeting of reflection and prayer as “one of the most moving moments of my life,” and one that gave him great respect for Nixon. On the far opposite end of the spectrum, he says the “saddest moment of my governmental experience” was the collapse of South Vietnam. The hostile Congress doomed South Vietnam, and in Kissinger’s words “South Vietnam did not have to fall.” He was emotional in describing the evacuation of the Saigon, which was undoubtedly one of the saddest days in our history.

Kissinger’s stated goal was to bring peace and stability to the world, and prevent a nuclear conflict. As he readily admits, he doesn’t know how he will be judged. Certainly, there were some negative aspects of his career. But the full look at his career that this film depicts shows that those were far and few between. Between the opening of China, the Paris Accords, the negotiations to end the Yom Kippur War, and the Soviet arms treaty, Kissinger has earned the moniker, Chief Diplomat of the World.


2016: Rubio Impresses

In a big Republican field, it is difficult to stand out. But Marco Rubio has managed to do just that with strong policy solutions, youthful optimism, and firm principles. The Florida senator has already distinguished himself as a rising star who can earn the support of most of the Republican coalition.

Rubio’s potential was clear from the start. Born the son of Cuban immigrants in Miami, he grew up in a working class environment. He made it to the senate by his own hard work and intellect. In 2010 Rubio challenged sitting Florida governor Charlie Crist for the Republican nomination. Crist, a popular and well-known figure in Florida was considered a virtual lock for the nomination. As Rubio often says there were very few people that believed he could win and they all lived in Rubio’s house. But he emerged victorious in the primary, bolstered by tea party support.

In the general election, Rubio faced not only Democratic congressman Kendrick Meek but also Crist, who was by this point running as an independent. In this challenging three way race, which Rubio began as the least known of the three eventual candidates, it was Rubio who prevailed on election night by a large margin. Florida, the forth most populous US State at the time of the 2010 election, has long been a key swing state in presidential election years. Recent history has shown that one party or one ideology does not monopolize the state’s loyalty. Rubio’s continued popularity in the state demonstrates his skill as a politician.

While in the senate he has shown courage numerous times. He made a firm stand on immigration reform that won him no friends in the Republican base. He felt it was the right thing to do and he was willing to take a hit for it. While his proposal was not perfect, his conviction to do what he thinks is right over what is popular is admirable. Rubio has shown an intimate knowledge of foreign policy and has pointed out the failures of the Obama administration. Rubio has stated “our friends no longer trust us and our enemies no longer fear us.” He is right. Adversaries of the United States like Iran, Russia, and North Korea have been emboldened, while rifts have appeared in relationships with our strong and loyal allies like Britain, Israel, and Germany. As president he will improve our relationships with these and other allies. He will take a firm stand against nations that threaten world peace and oppress their own people. In a time when the US is failing to be a leader when American leadership is needed, he is an attractive choice for president.

Rubio is also a strong fiscal conservative. He favors a business friendly plan of fair regulation, low taxes, and living with in our means. After two terms of irresponsible spending by the Obama administration this is sorely needed in the white house. He understands the importance of a strong economy to the revival of the American dream. He recognizes the unique appeal of America and this country’s ability to change lives. Rubio’s parents came to America as poor Cuban immigrants. They were able to have steady jobs, own their own homes, and give Marco, his brother, and his two sisters opportunities they never dreamed of for themselves. That’s the essence of the American dream, and Rubio understands it.

Rubio can also argue that, unlike Hillary Clinton, he is a candidate for tomorrow. His campaign announcement had the following jab at Clinton: “Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday, began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday. Yesterday is over. And we’re never going back.” His youthful optimism rooted in a firm belief that tomorrow will be great for America is reminiscent of John F. Kennedy. The theme of Rubio’s campaign, ‘a new American century,” is forward-looking and well thought out. Rubio has the potential to inspire a new generation of American voters, and this matters more than anything else. Despite a few mistakes here and there – his positions on immigration and on the NSA will turn off some voters – his record is one of the most impressive in the field. There are many appealing candidates for the Republican nomination, but Marco Rubio is undoubtedly an early standout.


2016: Against Huckabee

Even though the 2016 election is over a year away, the election cycle has already commenced. We have several major candidates on both sides that have already begun to campaign for the presidency. Although it remains early, it is time to discuss the upcoming election. The Republicans already have a crowded field, with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson. The Democrats have a much smaller selection to choose from consisting of Martin O’Malley, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. Today, we shall commence our analysis (in no particular order) beginning with a man making his second run for the presidency, Mike Huckabee.

Mike Huckabee has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. In May, Josh Duggar, a reality TV star from the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, revealed that he had molested young women while a teenager. People across the country were shocked by these allegations, as they should be. But Mike Huckabee took to facebook in defense of Duggar and his family. This story would not be relevant to post on a political blog if it wasn’t for the disproportionate influence on political matters that this family has.

The mainstream media has drawn a great deal of attention to the fact that Josh Duggar has appeared in photos with several republican politicians, including Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, all of whom are running for president. It is ridiculous to assert that these figures are therefore connected to Duggar. People who are at events with famous political figures often pose for photos with them, and to say that this establishes some personal or political link between the two is absurd.

However, the links between the Duggar family and Mike Huckabee (and to a lesser extent Rick Santorum) go far deeper than just a simple photograph. The Duggars endorsed Huckabee’s bid for President (and did so for Santorum in 2012). Huckabee felt it necessary to defend the family on his official facebook page. This story doesn’t get much better when the extreme beliefs that the Duggar family promotes and believes in are examined. The family is associated with the Quiverfull and Christian patriarchy movements, two groups on the fringe of fundamentalist Christianity that espouse that all birth control is not to be used, women are to be confined to roles as mothers and homemakers, and fathers (and husbands) hold ultimate authority over their families (particularly over women and girls). Josh’s mother, Michelle, was given an award by Vision Forum, which was a leading organization in this movement before its shut down last year following a sex scandal involving its leader, Doug Phillips. The Duggar family is prominent in both movements.

This is not what most evangelicals believe. In fact, most people in the evangelical movement would likely find many of these positions rather appalling. It is very sad to see a movement which takes positions most people find very degrading to women and girls given a national television show and the support of a man running for president. Evangelical leaders have been distancing themselves from the movement for some time now. Michael Farris, a leader in the homeschool movement as well as the former president of Patrick Henry College condemned the movement and Vision Forum. There is absolutely nothing wrong with associating oneself with evangelical christianity. Many Americans adhere to this movement, and they have done a great deal of good for this country. But the Christian patriarchy movement is an entirely different matter. Huckabee should have had the good sense to avoid it. The fact that he didn’t says a lot about his candidacy.

Huckabee’s positions on economic issues are also problematic. We have an impending crisis with Social Security and Medicare. If it wasn’t for entitlement spending, the US government would actually have a surplus. In order to preserve these programs for future generations we must make changes. Our massive debt is holding us back. It is difficult for our economy to grow when our government is fiscally irresponsible. Many conservatives are making good progress on this issue. Paul Ryan, one of the smartest members of congress, has worked tirelessly to put us on track for a balanced budget. The new Republican senate has taken up the noble cause of tax reform (which this country desperately needs). They held a hearing in which they brought in former senators Bill Bradley and Bob Packwood to testify (Bradley and Packwood were two of the primary architects of the last major tax reform bill, passed in 1986 and signed by President Ronald Reagan). The Senate also passed a budget in May (simply passing a budget is more than the Senate could do, or was willing to due, under the control of the Democratic Party and under the leadership of Harry Reid) that would give us a balanced budget in ten years. All this would allow for a strong national defense, continued protections for those people in our society who need help, and the preservation for Social Security. This kind of bill is what the United States desperately needs.

Huckabee offers no serious ideas about balancing the budget and, in fact, has been fear mongering about how Social Security is under threat from reform efforts. For one thing, gradually raising the retirement age for Social Security is not gutting the program. The country and the world have changed a lot since Social Security was first passed into law. One of these changes is that people live longer today than they once did. Three of my four grandparents are still alive. All three are in their mid eighties, and two of those three remain very active today. Such a situation would have been unusual fifty years ago, but is relatively common today. Gradually raising the retirement age for Social Security is a sensible reform that would preserve the program for future generations. Huckabee criticizes these and other efforts as trying to steal from seniors. The fact is if we do not take action, there will not be a Social Security program for our seniors.

Huckabee did not show any restraint for spending while Governor of Arkansas. According to a 2007 article published by the Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner, Huckabee increased state spending by 65 percent, and had a net tax increase larger than that of Bill Clinton when he was Arkansas’ Governor. The Cato Institute gave him an F for fiscal responsibility, and he scored worse than fifteen Democratic governors.

Huckabee does have his merits. He is good with words and his heart is in the right place. But from his associations with unsavory groups to his big government, big spending fiscal policies, he is not the right candidate for Republicans in 2016. Other Governors like Scott Walker, John Kasich, George Pataki, and Rick Perry have better records on fiscal policy, and while many Republicans offer real solutions to our debt crisis, Huckabee is not among them. Voters looking for a strong social conservative would be better advised to turn toward the likes of Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. With such a large field of candidates, Republicans should look elsewhere for their 2016 nominee.


The New Senate

Today, the new class of senators and congressman were sworn in. Hence, the Harry Reid is no longer Senate Majority Leader – and that is a great thing for this nation. Reid’s tenure was marked by hyper partisanship and ineptitude. Mitch McConnell did contribute to that atmosphere to a certain extent, but Reid’s role was the decisive one. There are a lot of new faces in the senate, and we can expect to here more from a number of new senators.

Colorado voters sent congressman Cory Gardner to the Senate, replacing Mark Udall. Gardner had initially opted against a run for senate, but he jumped in late, swapping places with Ken Buck, a former senate nominee who is considerably to the right of Gardner politically, who ran for Gardner’s old congressional seat. Gardner has proved to have fresh ideas, supporting widespread energy development including wind and solar, as well as supporting making birth control available over the counter. He remains solidly conservative, and shows signs of a superstar in the making. He may make an appearance at CPAC in the not-too-distant future and it would not take much imagination to see him giving a rousing speech in Cleveland in 2016. Gardner will be a strong, principled voice in the US Senate, and Colorado is fortunate to have someone of his ability serving them.

With all the chaos going on in the Middle East, it would be helpful to have some Iraq war veterans in the senate. We now have three. Joni Ernst, an army veteran who was stationed in Kuwait in 2003-2004, rose from political obscurity to replace Tom Harkin as Iowa’s senator. She ran a campaign emphasizing her roots on Iowa’s farmland, famously using her experiencing castrating pigs as a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for cutting pork. She seems poised to establish herself as one of the senate’s conservative firebrands.

Shortly after graduating from Harvard University, Tom Cotton (of Yell County, Arkansas) opted against finding a high paying job, instead enlisting as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. After serving in Iraq, he returned to Arkansas, a state which he now represents in the US Senate. Aside from having first hand experience with the Middle East, Cotton has distinguished himself as a rising Republican star. You can expect to hear more from him in the future. He defeated Mark Pryor, who had the backing of Arkansas favorite son Bill Clinton, by a much greater margin than expected, and could join the likes of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul as a young Republican superstar.

The senate gained a knowledgeable foreign policy expert in Dan Sullivan, the new senator from Alaska. His impressive résumé includes a stint in the Marines and several years in the Condoleezza Rice state department. After leaving Washington to return to Alaska, Sullivan became the state’s attorney general and ran the Natural Resources Commission (a significant and powerful position in Alaska). Sullivan is articulate, well informed, experienced, and will make an excellent Senator.

The new Republican majority has within its ranks the talent to avoid the malaise of gridlock that plagued the previous session of the senate. With new members Gardner, Sullivan, Cotton, Ernst, and others joining its ranks, there is hope for a more productive and innovative senate.


The AFA Represents Everything That’s Wrong in the Conservative Movement

Recently, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced plans to speak at an event called “The Response”, to be held on the campus of Louisiana State University. The Response is organized by a group called the American Family Association. Jindal, a Roman Catholic, says this event is about prayer and faith, not politics: “Let’s be clear about what this is. This is an opportunity for people across denominational lines to come together to pray. It’s not a political event, it’s a religious event.” Governor Jindal may be attending for religious reasons, but The Response is very much a political event.

The organizers put out an eight page Prayer Guide published by the New Orleans Times-Picayune. On the second page, the Prayer Guide discusses the locust plague that struck ancient Israel. Then the subject quickly changes from the theological to the political.

“In America today we face a similar crisis…the wholesale murder of infants through abortion is not only accepted but protected by law. Homosexuality has been embraced as an alternative lifestyle. Same sex marriage is legal in six states and Washington DC. Pornography is available on-demand through the internet. Biblical signs of apostasy are before our very eyes…This year we have seen a dramatic increase in tornadoes that have taken the lives of many and crippled entire cities, such as Tuscaloosa, AL & Joplin, MO. And let us not forget that we are only six years from the tragic events of hurricane Katrina.” The guide clearly draws a direct link between homosexuality and abortion and natural disasters.

These views are well outside the mainstream of American society and it is understandable that many are concerned about the group’s influence.

If Bobby Jindal needs a talking point for a presidential run, he can boast about his economic ideas or his strong record of being an advocate expanding education for low income Louisianans. He does not need to associate with a group like the AFA, nor should he. The views espoused by the American Family Association are not representative of the American people, Republican Party, or the Conservative Movement. While they have every right to have those views and to express them publically, elected officials should be hesitant to work with them.