Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Values Voters Summit, Part 1, Friday morning

So much happened at the Values Voters Summit this past weekend that I'm going to break down my blog posts by day. I tried to take notes on every speaker and ended up with some highlights. I also ordered the complete conference on CD so I look forward to listening to each speaker again and hopefully learning more when I'm not so sleep-deprived. ;) Our first speaker was Lou Dobbs of CNN. Dobbs spoke of his change of heart towards religion in the public policy and how FRC President Tony Perkins contributed to that change by "talking long enough and making enough sense." He also spoke on how the fundamental principle of democracy is the rule of majority and that the violation of this principle is one of our biggest challenges. Next up was THE Joe Gibbs. :) While I knew him only as the legendary Redskins coach who came out of retirement to coach again, it was incredible to hear him speak. Gibbs is well spoken and passionate. His message centered around how life is like a game...specifically, football. :) What else? He spoke about how God is our head coach in the game of life and that when we follow His game plan, we win. The message ended with a presentation of the gospel and the invitation to accept Christ as Savior and Lord. Definitely a memorable time that morning. Following Joe Gibbs was someone else who is familiar to those from the DC beltway, former MD Lieutenant-Governor Michael Steele. Steele challenged the audience, asking us what we were prepared to do. He stated that what we need are people of principle who understand what's at stake. To paraphrase one of his points: "Movements aren't started on their own and they are not sustained on their own." Each session included a panel discussion and Friday morning's panel was "The Truth Behind Capitol Hill's Leading Ladies" featuring (from left to right in photo): Representative , Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Connie Mackey, Senior Vice President, FRC Action as moderator, and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota (whose first child, born recently, has Down Syndrome). The three major topics the ladies touched on included Stem Cell research, the so-called "Fairness Doctrine", and the need to defund Planned Parenthood. Up next was conservative activist and President of the Eagle Forum, Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly pointed out how far we've come since 2004's election by doing a side-by-side comparison of many important points in the Republican Party platform. She also discussed how the Republican and Democratic platforms are polar opposites, especially on issues of concern to values voters. She ended by encouraging us with the fact that this year's platform is the most pro-life and pro-family platform in recent history. Following Phyllis Schlafly was Focus on the Family President and CEO Jim Daly. After explaining how America has become like a "big, alcoholic family" (as described by Glenn Beck) since there are things we can't talk about ("politically incorrect"), Daly explained how what's at stake drives Focus on the Family to become involved in the public square. He discussed how the number one contributor to poverty is broken homes/marriages. Also discussed was how we shouldn't be ashamed at being perceived as "single-issue driven" and that we can't just speak the words but need to put them into action. He also praised Palin as a "woman's woman" (in his wife's words). In probably one of the more serious and chilling talks, Don Feder spoke on the topic of the new documentary "Demographic Winter: the decline of the human family". You may have seen the banner at the top of the page. I highly recommend checking out the web page and the trailer. The discussion was about how falling birthrates worldwide are leading to population decline in many countries while the United States hovers just at the replacement rate (2.1 births/woman). I bought the DVD while at the VVS if you would like to borrow it (after I watch it, of course). :) The final speaker of the morning was former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Gingrich brought us back to U.S. history to show how previous presidents have brought their faith into the public arena. He talked about Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural, engraved on the Lincoln Monument, that is only a little over 700 words and mentions God 14 times and quotes the Bible twice. He talked about FDR's D-Day radio broadcast that included a 6.5 minute prayer. Gingrich also spoke of our record in warfare, how we are the only country worldwide that has never taken land in military conquest in other countries. "If you look at the record of human warfare, we have a pretty good record of trying to do the right thing." (As close of a quote as I could catch writing fast.) So to catch you up, this was only the first half of Friday. I was able to attend the Focus on the Family Action luncheon where the Grassroots activist awards were given out to the heads of family policy councils in California, Arizona, and Florida. If you are interested in listening to any of the speeches, the website for streaming video (provided in the previous post) now has video of each speaker. In several of the videos, they pan to the audience and you might be able to catch a glimpse of me. ;) (For example, in the Sean Hannity video, look for the white satin headband in the front row.) Since this post was longer than I thought, I'm going to try to break up the conference in half-days. Look for the rest of Friday coming soon. :) Soli Deo Gloria, Meghan


langelgjm said...

"He also spoke on how the fundamental principle of democracy is the rule of majority and that the violation of this principle is one of our biggest challenges."

While majority rule does require that laws be passed by a majority of our representatives, majority rule does not mean that whatever the majority thinks should therefore be the rule. While that may be the case in a direct democracy, our representative system of government was specifically designed with the fear a tyranny of the majority in mind. For example, Madison, in Federalist No. 10, states:

"Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority... By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community."

Merely because something is the desire of a majority does not therefore make it just, wise, or appropriate. The majority may be, and historically often has been, simply wrong.

"the so-called "Fairness Doctrine""

The Fairness Doctrine is an interesting concept, and touches on issues that are dear to my heart. At its core, the Fairness Doctrine is a testament to the uniqueness of radio and television. Broadcast licenses award to private entities the right to use a public resource (radio spectrum). Those who hold such licenses control an extremely powerful medium - this cannot be denied. Radio and television revolutionized the way Americans received their information, and they continue to exert a huge (some might say undue) influence on all aspects of politics.

The Fairness Doctrine essentially attempts to prevent the manipulation and misuse of a powerful public resource by private entities. Such regulation is well established in many areas: obscenity regulations, for example, control what may be shown and aired on television and radio. Cigarette commercials are forbidden. Beer commercials may not show people actually consuming beer. The makers of Enzyte, the so-called "natural male enhancer", have been forced to alter their television commercials in many states. In these cases, the argument is that the public interest in health, safety, and truthful advertising outweighs the right of any one group to use a public resource to spread its message.

In my mind, the Fairness Doctrine is not primarily an issue of free speech or censorship. Rather, it is fundamentally an attempt to prevent the spread of false or dishonest information by means of a public resource. A public resource should not be used to subsidize the spread of false or dishonest information. On the other hand, the Fairness Doctrine cannot apply to a newspaper, for example, because a newspaper is not a public resource. As for the Internet, while I am inclined to consider it a public resource, it is not a limited public resource, as is spectrum. The power of the Internet is not assigned by the government to groups, as is spectrum.

Clearly, there is potential for the Fairness Doctrine to be abused, as there is potential for any position of authority to be abused. However, I believe that effective management of a public resource (spectrum) should require some sort of review of the honesty and truth of the statements that are being propagated by means of it. This is particularly important during campaign season. Both parties have broadcast advertisements that distort the others' words, take quotations horribly out of context, and sometimes are simply factually wrong. These ads have a profound effect on the electorate, and it is unconscionable that not only are untruths being sold as truths, but that untruths are being spread by means of a public resource.

"Gingrich also spoke of our record in warfare, how we are the only country worldwide that has never taken land in military conquest in other countries. "If you look at the record of human warfare, we have a pretty good record of trying to do the right thing."

Gingrich holds to an interesting version of history, given the fact that the U.S. engaged in numerous wars and battles against Native American tribes in attempts to expand into and colonize what were formerly Native American lands. We also turned the Philippines into a U.S. territory. While we later released it, this doesn't negate the fact that it was turned into a territory by means of war. There are numerous other examples of U.S. aggression and expansion throughout our history - we are no saints.

Meghan said...

We as a country may not be saints, and I don't claim we are, but the point he was making was that we are not the evil nation that the Obama's have made us out to be on occasion. I am proud to live in the greatest country currently on the planet and would rather have a leader who is not ambivalent towards it.

Rule of majority - I do believe that he was addressing it along the lines you detail and was addressing the hijacking of our government by special interests and lobbyists. These groups have seemingly become more powerful, often pushing policies for their own benefit, than the American people. While their issues should be heard, they should not be enacted at the expense and detriment of citizens.

The "Fairness Doctrine" - The current reincarnation of this policy is in no way fair, is at its heart a violation of the 1st Amendment, and is targeted at hugely successful conservative talk radio. And on these shows, several of which I have heard in the DC area, callers with contrasting points of view in fact, are almost always taken first. Liberal radio has been attempted numerous times, and has failed miserably each time. If there was a demand for liberal talk, there would be many liberal talk stations on the dial. Those that currently exist, such as the few Air America affiliates left, have no ratings. With talk radio, you know what you're getting. The hosts don't claim impartiality. And if you don't like or agree with what you're can always turn it off. I don't disagree that the truth should be told and that deception is unacceptable, however many news outlets (NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, The New York Times, L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek to name a few) tend to exclude or greatly distort conservative viewpoints. Several of these have had to print retractions lately for printing clearly false and unresearched opinions as fact. Conservative talk radio balances this out. I believe this is entirely different from monitoring obscenities and indecency on radio and TV which does not seem to be applied equally right now anyway. Besides, maybe we should work on having all viewpoints heard fairly in Congress first before they try to start enforcing 'fairness'.

Americans have come to a consensus that, for some reason, we can't actually research things ourselves and that we need the government to do it for us. This is an attitude of entitlement, one that is wrong. America was built on a foundation of hard work, individual responsibility and freedom, not laziness, blame, and an expectation that someone else will take care of us.

I highly recommend watching some of the videos of some of these speeches to get the full context. I am providing a fairly simple synopsis of the topics each speaker touched on and cannot capture every nuance of every issue. The appropriate links are in the prior post from September 11th.

Thanks for the feedback! :) It is greatly appreciated!

Soli Deo Gloria,