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Happy Birthday, TR

Today we mark the 164th birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, who was born this day in New York City. He remains one of the few American presidents born and raised in a major metropolitan area. His experience as a cowboy in North Dakota and as a Rough Rider in the Spanish American War taught him to appreciate the life and values of rural America as well. He spent his political career trying to find the commonality between these diverse lives and unify them as a nation. As we celebrate his birthday, let us all dedicate ourselves to this goal and seek to truly realize our nation’s motto of ”e pluribus unum” – out of the many, one.

2022 Election, Political Reform, Politics

2022 Nationalist Voting Index – Political Reform

Longtime followers of this site will remember the American Nationalist Voting Index developed during the 2020 election to compare the two main presidential candidate’s positions on key issues. This series of posts will attempt to craft a similar list of nationalist issues for the upcoming midterm elections. 

We begin with the one most dear to Theodore Roosevelt himself – preserving and broadening our democracy to  give the average American an effective voice in Washington.  At a time when the durability and even the legitimacy of American democracy has been questioned, political reform is not merely desirable, but critical to insuring our strength here at home and our credibility as a champion of freedom abroad.

Freedom to Vote Act

This bill started out life as the “For the People Act” and proposed significant and important reforms in campaign finance, voter registration and rights, lobbying rules, election integrity and congressional ethics.  You can see more of my analysis of it under the “Politics – Political Reform “ tab on the website. Thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the bill was amended to eliminate many of the more overreaching provisions. Unfortunately, congressional ethics reform was one of the casualties of the process. However, as I discussed here, the Manchin compromise incorporated the best of the other reforms and deserved support from American nationalists.

Sadly, while the bill passed the House in February of this year, it failed in the Senate.  Your House member’s vote on it can be found at this link (ignore the reference to a NASA appropriation. If you click on the bill number, it will take you to the Freedom to Vote Act:

https://clerk.house.gov/Votes/20229 

In the Senate, a motion to bring the bill to a vote failed and your Senator’s position can be found here

https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_votes/vote1171/vote_117_1_00420.htm

Ban Congressional Stock Trading

Insider trading by corporate and securities elites has been unlawful for decades, but recent revelations have shown the current rules to prevent similar profiteering by congress members are largely toothless. Several bills to ban stock trading by members of Congress were introduced, but the Democratic leadership in both houses prevented them from coming to a floor vote.

Thus, the only record of congressional support for this reform is the identity of the co-sponsors of those bills. Here is the list of co- sponsors of the House bill (HR 6678, the Bipartisan Ban on Congressional Stock Ownership Act)

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/6678/cosponsors?r=43&s=1

A similar bill was introduced in the Senate (S 3494, the Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act) and the list of co-sponsors can be found here

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/3494/cosponsors

If your House representative or Senator is not on these lists, you may want to ask them what they’re trying to hide.

Electoral Count Act

The horrifying January 6 attack on the Capitol during the 2020 presidential election certification highlighted the weaknesses of the nineteenth century law governing that critical process.  One of the pretexts for the attack was the theory that Vice-President Pence had the unilateral power to reject the results of the election.  This bill clarifies that the Vice-President has no such power. It also prevents frivolous challenges by providing that any objection to a state’s electors must have the support of one- third of each house of Congress. 

This should have been non-controversial. However, it only passed the House and never came up for a vote in the Senate. You can see the results of the roll call vote in the House here at

https://clerk.house.gov/Votes/2022449

A list of the co-sponsors of the companion bill in the Senate can be found at

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/4573/cosponsors

Conclusion

TR spent much of his New Nationalism speech attacking the influence of special interests on the political process, comparing its importance to the fight against slavery in the Civil War.  If we are to avoid the modern-day civil war many observers fear, we must reinvigorate our own commitment to democracy to insure it works for all Americans, not just a narrow elite.

Foreign Policy

Dominus Flevit

Source: Author

Coming within sight of the city, He wept over it and said “If only you had known the path to peace this day, but you have completely lost it from view”.

Luke 19:41-42

This iconic photo of modern-day Jerusalem was taken during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land at the spot where Christians believe Jesus Christ wept over the city’s coming destruction by the Romans.  The golden dome is the Dome of the Rock, where Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to heaven. What is less obvious is that it is built on the Temple Mount, which is where the Jewish temple used to stand before the city’s destruction. Behind the Dome of the Rock is the Church of  the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Christians believe Christ died and rose from the dead. The wall immediately in front of the Golden Dome was built by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent on top of the remnants of the walls of the former Byzantine, Roman and Jewish rulers of the city.

The photo illustrates the sad history and current reality of Israel, Palestine and the entire Middle East. Whether it was the Persians, the Romans, the Turks or others in between, the region has been the crossroads of the world and the battleground of political and religious empires for millennia. Each outsider won a temporary victory only to be displaced by later, more powerful newcomers.  Like the layers of Jerusalem’s wall, the rivalries and resentments from these conquests run deep and are part of the everyday life of the people.

Recent history shows that progress in untying this Gordian knot of conflict only occurs when one of the leaders in the area courageously and publicly acts. The Camp David Accords hosted by President Jimmy Carter that produced the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty were possible only after President Anwar Sadat’s courageous trip to Tel Aviv to meet Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.  This peace has now held for over four decades. In contrast, The Oslo Accords of 1993 that created the Palestinian Authority were initially negotiated in secret between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization rather than through a similar public initiative. While the agreement resulted in the creation of the Palestinian Authority, the corresponding lack of commitment on both sides has been reflected in Israel’s settlement policy and the continuing attacks on Israel by Hamas and others terrorist groups.

When weighed along with the disastrous effects of our military interventions in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, the lessons become clear.  The US cannot bring a peace to the Middle East unless the parties are first willing to take the risks of peace themselves   Worse, direct military intervention simply adds a new layer on to the ancient piles of resentment and conflict. This land deserves our prayers for peace, but realism and a certain amount of humility must necessarily temper America’s involvement in the region.