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Not My President? Yes, Trump is every American’s president

It’s Presidents’ Day in the United States of America and what better way to celebrate than to demonstrate the hypocrisy of democracy?

Thousands of Americans are expected to take to the streets to protest America’s current sitting president, one Donald Trump.

That’s fine. I don’t have any problem with Americans exercising a freedom granted them by our Founding Fathers.

I do have a problem with the #NotMyPresident movement, though.

For any American out there who utters the phrase, “not my president”, or uses the hashtag #NotMyPresident, you are incorrect, and likely a hypocrite.

You are incorrect because you do not get to choose your president.

You are allowed to cast a vote for the man or woman you want to serve as your president, but the Electoral College ultimately determines who your president is, based on a collection of votes from every American who casts one.

Thus, you are likely a hypocrite because you celebrate the idea of democracy, exercise the freedoms given to you by our Constitution, and are supposedly fighting for the rights of every American…

…and yet you ignore the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump.

(Yes, Hillary Clinton received more votes, but if you want to argue that the popular vote should be the deciding factor in an election, that’s a separate argument for another day)

The point is, an election was held and your candidate lost. Don’t be a first-grader who runs inside and cries because the result didn’t go your way.

Like it or not, Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017, and he is the President of the United States, and your president, too — assuming you are a legal American.

If you are not a legal American, you can be expecting a knock on your door soon as the Department of Homeland Security carries out its operation to crack down on illegal aliens.

So, go ahead and walk around and proclaim that Trump is not your president. I’ve got news for you, though … he is. And he will continue to be your president until you leave the country and become a citizen elsewhere, or until the next democratic general election in 2020 when you get another chance to vote him out of office.

Immigration is not the issue … illegal aliens and terrorists are

The United States of America is a nation built by immigrants.

Native Americans were here first, of course, but the actual foundation of our country was built by those who emigrated from the motherland in an effort to build a better life.

This is not a disputable fact, one which President Donald Trump himself would find difficulty arguing against.

Thus, it gives me great consternation that all across America on Thursday, businesses and schools closed down as immigrants — and many of their supporters — chose to stay home in a national “day without immigrants” protest.

What? Why? What exactly are we protesting here?

“From doctors to dishwashers, immigrants are integral to daily life in the U.S.,” said one person via Twitter, as reported by USA Today.

Many other protesters are speaking out against President Trump and in favor of their “immigrant brothers and sisters.”

And I’m left scratching my head asking, “Do you even realize what you’re protesting against?”

The issue is not with immigration. It’s with illegal immigration.

If immigrants crossed the border illegally and are undocumented residents, they should not be rewarded for that behavior and should not be allowed to stay.

Get back across the border to your homeland and restart the process legally.

Why is that a hard concept to understand? We play by the rules in this country, and if you break them, you’re punished — whether you are a legal, documented citizen or not.

As for the travel “ban” against aliens from select countries … ban was probably the wrong word to use because that implies some kind of indefinite, extended law.

The executive order that Trump signed, which was shot down by the courts, called for a limited “moratorium” on accepting citizens and refugees from select terrorist-infused nations.

A 90-day “ban” for citizens of those terrorist-infused nations and a 120-day “ban” for refugees.

Refugees from Syria were to be indefinitely “banned” until a time when that hotbed of terrorism and instability became stabilized.

Suddenly, Americans feel the need to stand up for the rights of these refugees over a temporary ruling to help secure our borders and keep our citizens safe.

That’s a concept that will never make sense.

If you don’t protect your house and those dwelling within its walls, you cease to have a safe place to call home in the first place.

The first duty of a United States President is to keep our country safe, and when our President feels we need tighter borders so we can gain a better understanding of who is entering our country — whether it be a sincere immigrant looking for a better life or an ISIS terrorist posing as a refugee in order to gain access to our country — it is silly to worry about the rights of foreigners before we worry about the safety of Americans.

I feel like the common expression “safety first” is lost upon all these protesters who want to open our borders to anyone and everyone. Perhaps it was never taught to them growing up…?

But I digress. Back to the main point of this post…

Immigration is something our country prides itself on and President Trump never said he wants to close our borders and never let anybody in.

No, he said he wanted to secure our borders, deport the illegals who broke our rules and make them play by the same set of rules as those entering legally.

If you can’t agree with that simple principle of abiding by a set of rules, then you have little concept of morality — right vs. wrong, legal vs. illegal, lawful vs. unlawful, and common sense vs. naïveté.

2016 Presidential Election takeaways

2016 Presidential Election takeaways
2016 Presidential Election takeaways – What we’ve learned following the results of the election and Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.
  1. Two awful candidates got into the center ring for a round of cock fighting. Trump pecked Clinton in the eye and escaped the winner.
  2. If you play the stock market, buy now. People are finicky and panicky and this is a great opportunity to buy low and reap the benefits later.
  3. Lessons learned from Trump’s surprise victory: Don’t put all your stock into polls. The margin for error is often vastly inaccurate and the sampling is woefully unrepresentative. Don’t let the media influence your thoughts and feelings. Let them deliver the news to you and you make your own educated decisions.
  4. I’m extremely tired this morning. I stayed up until nearly 3 a.m. watching election coverage. What’s that old saying about not being able to take your eyes off a car wreck? … How about a historic one?
  5. Car wreck is up to each individual’s interpretation. If you dislike Trump, you consider the election results a car wreck. If you dislike Clinton, it’s her campaign that is the car wreck.
  6. Elections are clearly emotional events due to the time, energy, and deeply personal thoughts and feelings that are invested in them. But just as the world would not have ended if Clinton had won, neither will it end with Trump in the Oval Office.
  7. Many Americans are out on a ledge this morning. Some are genuinely scared and afraid. Others are angry and in denial. Still others are just putting on a good act to demonstrate their feelings about Trump. Whatever the case may be, step back off the ledge. The sun will continue to rise each day.
  8. I find it offensive to be put into a box and labeled sexist because I did not support Clinton. Just because you don’t agree with her liberal agenda, suddenly you dislike her gender?
  9. I have little empathy for Clinton supporters who were ready to celebrate her “historic milestone” and instead left her rally in tears. If you supported Clinton because you thought she was the most qualified for the job, that’s your right. If your primary reason for support was because you wanted a woman president, shame on you. If that’s the case, there are plenty more honest, decent, and trustworthy women to fill that role than Clinton.
  10. Airplanes are revving up right now ready to depart the country. Will any of those smoke-blowers who vowed to leave the country if Trump won the election be on board?
  11. If you’re serious about leaving the country and are interested in heading south, just make sure you leave quickly before Trump’s wall makes it more difficult to do so.
  12. This could be the most divided the country has been since the Civil War. Trump has an awful lot of fences to mend and wounds to heal.
  13. Although Trump helped further the divide between the left and the right, in fairness to him, the country was already splitting at the seams before he even announced his intent to run for president.
  14. One of the characteristics that bothered me most about Clinton was her sense of entitlement. She felt it was “her turn” in 2008 until Barack Obama knocked her off her throne. Once more, she thought she was next in line in succession to the throne but her peasants-to-be had other ideas.
  15. I don’t like Trump and I find it hard to respect a man with an impressive resume of questionable character. But just as I’ve said throughout Obama’s presidency: I will respect the office of the president and honor it like it deserves.
  16. Although Trump wasn’t my first choice for president — or second, or fifth, or sixteenth — I’m proud of the American people for taking action. They chose not to settle for a government that became too powerful, and instead chose to rise up and take part in democracy.
  17. Anyone can sit at home and grumble about feeling betrayed by their government. The true sign of our country working as intended is the power of the people to bring about change.
  18. Speaking of change, Barack Obama and Donald Trump are both agents of change — albeit in completely opposite directions. Change seems to have a perpetual feel to it in that the greater that Change A is, the more dramatic and needed that Change B will seem. It swings back and forth like a pendulum.
  19. Funny thing about pendulums: The further they swing in one direction, the more rapidly, momentously, and purposefully they come back in the other direction.
  20. This country’s pendulum swung to the far left when Obama took office and the Democrats held both the House and the Senate. It’s what enabled Obama to pass the Affordable Care Act. Now the pendulum has swung back in the other direction and the Republicans have total control of government — or, at least the White House and control of Congress.
  21. Once concerned that Trump’s political inexperience could cause major problems in Washington, I’m kind of intrigued that America has elected a common man. After all, our Founding Fathers, by and large, were ordinary men with jobs who cared about our country. Wealthy men, yes. But those who sought to lead and make the country as great as it could be.
  22. If Trump’s lack of experience and erratic temperament have you a little concerned, just consider the idea that if he is really bad at his job and does something illegal, he can and will be impeached by a Republican Congress that was divided about him, anyway.
  23. Let’s just hope that if he does something impeachable, it’s not permanently damaging and beyond repair.
  24. How long before the #ImpeachTrump hashtag becomes a trend on Twitter? #NotMyPresident is already trending.
  25. Sadly, you see the division — and the delusion — that exists in this country. Trump is, in fact, your president if you are a citizen and resident of the United States of America. And if you don’t like it, join the celebrities who vowed to exit the country if he won the election.
  26. Speaking of exists, Californians are stirring up ideas of seceding from the union — a “Calexit” — in the wake of Trump’s victory. Fine. Instead of being one of the largest states in the greatest country in the world, you’ll be a small, isolated country surrounded and squished up against the Pacific Ocean by a nation that won’t be so eager to help you.
  27. Reports of violence amongst protesters in the wake of Trump’s victory only confirm the reason why Trump was elected in the first place. Lawless disobedience must be curbed.
  28. Trump said he wants us to be a nation of law and order. I concur. Now that he’s in office, he’s going to have to prove it in the face of rising violence.
  29. If there is one thing above all else that I approve the government spending money on, it’s national defense and homeland security. Without safety and protection, without law and order, we descend into utter chaos and cease to be a nation.
  30. Speaking of ceasing to be a nation, Trump has said many times that without borders we cannot be called a nation. This is actually an area in which I agree with the President-elect. And although I remain skeptical that we’ll actually erect a southern border wall, I would be in favor of one existing.
  31. The narrative against Trump is that his border wall contradicts the American history and spirit of immigration. We’ve heard Democrats rail against this, claiming that we are a nation of immigrants and of freedom and opportunity, and that Trump is trying to take that all away. That’s just political posturing done by one party to make the other party leader look bad.
  32. The truth about Trump’s immigration stance is that he is against illegal immigration. Shouldn’t we all be? Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, but the process must be legal, otherwise we become overrun by those who do not conform to our laws, take our jobs, and lower wages for hard-working, legal Americans. Those are not disputable facts.
  33. As I watch my Twitter feed today, I cannot believe the overwhelming potshots taken at Trump and his supporters from angry, disgruntled Clinton supporters. It feels like scorned high schoolers who were dumped by their boyfriend or girlfriend and are now trashing them behind their back.
  34. Twitter is a wonderful tool for sharing news and information; but it makes an awful online diary.
  35. Sour Grapes are alive and well in America. I’m willing to give some leniency to those who are voicing their frustrations. A few days? Maybe a few weeks? But if this kind of angry rhetoric continues beyond Inauguration Day, it’s time to grow up and move on with your life.
  36. I think many of the problems we face in America today stem from a lack of morality and faith in God, thus giving a rise to selfish ambition and self-reliance.
  37. “God help us” and “God save us” seem to be a popular turn of phrase following Trump’s election victory. Something tells me the same phrases would have been uttered had Clinton been victorious. Common thread? This country needs God’s help.
  38. I find it ironic that so many are calling upon God’s name after Trump’s victory and yet God is largely forgotten or left out by Americans on a daily basis.
  39. With Mike Pence — a devout Christian — standing by his side, I’m hoping the Trump Administration can bring back an emphasis on faith and morality in this country.
  40. If there’s one thing that can be taken away from the 2016 Presidential Election more than any other, it’s that we remain a diverse nation and one that will not conform like robots to the agenda from either side of the aisle. We still have a pulse.

2016 Presidential Election: Step toward radicalized America?

2016 Presidential Election
The 2016 Presidential Election could bring about a more radicalized version of America completely foreign to what the Founding Fathers had envisioned.

My wife and I have a baby boy named Everett. He turns six months old today.

Perhaps it is fitting that today is also America’s 2016 Presidential Election Day.

Everett is pure and innocent, unscathed and unafflicted by the evil and corruption in this world. He’s a happy boy who is enjoying the sights and sounds of his surroundings. The biggest problem in his young life is when he wakes up hungry and we can’t get a bottle in his mouth quick enough. Or, when his Baby First TV show goes to a commercial break and he has to sit through a barrage of advertisements featuring humans instead of two-dimensional cartoon characters.

Annoyance with commercials is an ageless feeling, I guess.

When we look into his eyes, just like any parent does their child, we see a dependent little being who is going to rely on us for all his needs for nearly two decades before he develops the tools to take care of himself.

At the moment, he is a piece of unmolded clay waiting to be shaped and sculpted. He’s a sheet of blank white canvas paper ready for someone to fill in with detail. Or, more appropriately, he is a sponge who will be soaking in everything his five little senses can absorb, answering questions along the way such as: “Who am I? Where am I? And what the heck am I doing here?”

This is why, as Americans head to the polls today to elect the 45th President of the United States, I’m on the edge of my seat with anxiety as we await which candidate will be leading the country during Everett’s first four complete years in this world.

I’ve heard candidates for more than 20 years use the rhetorical question, “What kind of country will we be leaving our children?” To me, this never resonated because I haven’t been a parent until this current election cycle. I’ve always shrugged off that question and figured I’d let everyone else worry about that. I wanted America fixed right now.

But it takes being a parent to understand exactly what that means. As a parent, you want the best for your child and you never want to see them go through pain and suffering. More than that, you want to see them succeed and have a better life than you had because it brings great joy to see them thrive.

This is why I am nervous for Everett. I’m not so sure he will be left with a better America than the one his parents or grandparents have had.

The national debt is mounting, as our government borrows and spends money as if it were Monopoly currency. Gun violence seems to be ever-growing and spreading like wildfire. Police officers are under attack and criticized for their handling of a very difficult job, trying to maintain law and order so our society doesn’t dissolve into chaos. Terrorism is alive and (not) well, spreading across international borders and hitting first-world countries. Taxes keep rising and affect our cost of living. Health care costs are through the roof. There’s less spending cash in Americans’ pockets, smaller savings accounts, and weaker and bleaker retirement living.

“…and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

What a disaster this election cycle has become. I am disappointed in Republicans and Democrats alike for the two candidates that they nominated. And for two candidates who have such high unfavorability ratings — even within their own parties! — I am just shocked by the “voice of the people” and how we got to where we are today.

I’m not a historian, but this country couldn’t possibly have been any more divided than it is today — this side of the Civil War.

One side of the aisle wants to preserve the Constitution as it was originally intended. The other side wants to rip it up and start from scratch. I’m a firm believer in the Constitution, what it stands for, and what the Founding Fathers had envisioned for this country, but surely there is a common middle ground somewhere.

Certainly we understand as a society that times change and civilizations evolve but basic human rights, morals, and principles are timeless.

What frightens me most of all for Everett and all his future generational brothers and sisters is that this country is growing more apathetic toward religion and faith. By no coincidence at all, I feel our country’s moral standards have gotten weaker and almost non-existent.

Sure, our society is trying to shape up the conversation into one word: tolerance. And as it pertains to disagreements in opinions, personalities and preferences, tolerance is a wonderful thing. But tolerance doesn’t mean we automatically agree with everyone’s demand to do anything they want all the time.

As it pertains to faith and tolerance, our government seems to be more concerned with protecting one’s right not to practice a religion, but has little interest in protecting one’s right to promote it.

Take religious holidays for example.

Our society has an incessant drive to call Christmas trees “Holiday trees” because we don’t want to offend non-Christians. We also can’t say “Merry Christmas” to people because it’s more “politically correct” to say “Happy Holidays” — we might offend a non-Christian otherwise. Or what about certain schools across the country that give students the Friday before Easter off, but they don’t call it “Good Friday” because that apparently offends non-Christians. Instead, they call it a “day of non-attendance.”

If our First Amendment gives Americans the right not to practice faith, it sure as heck gives us the right to practice it. But if we get scorned and rebuked for openly expressing our faith, that’s not exactly promoting religious liberty and “tolerance”, is it?

Religious liberty is certainly being persecuted in this country and is being devalued and belittled in comparison to other forms of civil liberties.

It’s been said that the next President of the United States could appoint up to four Supreme Court Justices, which means the balance of power in the Court could shift dramatically and change the ideals and principles of this country for the rest of my lifetime, as well as a large chunk of Everett’s and other babies and kids in his generation.

I fear where our country is headed and how dramatically different the country might look. For those of us who are believers in Christ, we may be facing an uphill battle to practice and preach our faith in the face of mounting scorn, ridicule and persecution. (Yes, we live in a more civil world where the persecution we face is nothing like what Christians in the first century faced. But, it’s persecution nonetheless).

In addition to the struggle for religious liberty, I also fear the breakdown of law and order in this country as well as rising societal discord and growing disobedience.

The amount of young Americans who “play by their own rules”, fail to exhibit common courtesy, want something for nothing, lack accountability and responsibility, and who are willing to step over their own neighbor to get their hands on whatever they desire, is growing at an alarming rate.

We as parents have a duty to raise our children to be good, moral, upstanding citizens. To have respect for one another and learn to be selfless beings.

That is going to be a very difficult task for current and future parents, but a challenge I’m willing to rise to nonetheless.

Let’s just see how difficult that figures to be when election results are tallied by the end of the night.

War on Terror only way to fight against terrorism

War on Terror only way to fight against terrorism
The War on Terror is the only way to fight against terrorism and those who seek to do us harm.

I am a peaceful man by nature and hardly possess a vengeful bone in my body … just make sure you follow the rules of the road, or else!

I believe violence is never an answer to any of our problems with the exception of self-defense.

But one issue that leaves me longing for retribution and resolution is the ongoing threat of terrorism.

In most cases, words are the best method for resolving problems. All other means of conflict resolution are usually escalators that push dilemmas past a threshold, sometimes beyond the point of return. Heck, even words themselves can heighten tensions more than they bring about peace.

But when it comes to fighting terrorism, words are like blowing bubbles at battleships.

How do you use diplomacy with terrorists who care not to negotiate?

How do you speak reason into the minds of terrorists who have far different ideologies and systems of morals than you do?

Terrorists, by both definition and intention, are hellbent on destroying the fabric of our democratic societies and attempting to disrupt the peace and civility upon which our nations are built.

They’re bullies, in layman’s terms. And sometimes bullies need a pop in the nose.

Defeating terrorism and defending our nation’s interests both at home and abroad is the biggest challenge we Americans face today. And when I hear about ISIS beheading Christians at a regular interval, then claiming responsibility for brutal terror attacks — such as the one in Brussels this Tuesday — there’s only one way to respond to those who clearly lack the morals that most peace-loving people do:

Stand up and pop them in the nose.

I’m usually not an advocate for sending our troops into war. For starters, I wouldn’t want to send others into harm’s way when I’m unwilling to do the same thing myself. Secondly, the emotional toll forced upon a deceased soldier’s family is a terrible burden to carry. Not to mention, even those who survive battle could develop long-term mental, emotional and physical ailments.

But our brave soldiers know what they’re getting themselves into. They know that death is a possibility and that serving in the military is not just a scholarship program.

Fighting terrorism is one area where I fully support the use of force. I think it would be in our nation’s best interest — and in the best interest of all democratic nations around the world — to rise up and fight extremism.

For if we don’t fight back now, we are enabling and encouraging the continuation of such practices, and leaving ourselves in danger of losing the freedom and peace we fought many years to obtain.

Lawsuit in Paul Walker’s death misguided

I can’t even begin to describe how many things are wrong with this story.

I guess I’ll start with the fact that I’m fed up with the direction of this sue-happy country. Everybody wants to blame somebody for whatever goes wrong with his or her life, and thus, wants a bunch of money for it.

Just so you don’t think I’m too unreasonable, I will clarify that if there is legitimate reason to request that somebody else pay for money that you have lost, then I’m in agreement that suing them is within reason. What counts as “reasonable”, you ask? Such instances as when you miss work, you run up hospital bills, your property is damaged, or anything that has a finite and exact dollar amount.

“Emotional distress” or “mental anguish”, as the legal terms are phrased, cannot accurately be quantified, and thus, I have a big problem with people who use them as means for suing someone else.

If I walk down the hallway at work, trip over a loose cord and stub my toe on a doorframe, I’m pretty sure I’ll have mental anguish for all of about six seconds. Is that worth $500,000? How about a cool million? Heck no. But I guarantee somebody out there would beg for it. I wouldn’t give myself two bits in compensation for that.

But if a loved one of mine were to accidentally touch an exposed wire at work and died of electrocution, I’d be pretty distressed, right? Still, how do you put a dollar value on that distress? You can’t. You can put a value on wages that my loved one would lose from not working … but even then, how can you accurately determine how many years that person would have lived? You can’t.

The other problem I have with this story is the assignment of blame. We’re going to blame Porsche for being a faulty piece of machinery? What’s worse, is we’re going to absolve the driver of the car for killing the passenger?

Paul Walker’s friend, Roger Rodas, was driving the car that crashed and killed Walker well in excess of the posted 45 mph speed limit — between 80 and 93 mph. It’s absurd! If anyone or anything is guilty of Walker’s death, it was Rodas’ ridiculously illegal driving. Not the company that made the vehicle. Porsche didn’t say: “Here, we made this vehicle that has really good pick-up, so go ahead and ignore all the rules of the road.”

That’s insane. That’s like a gunmaker saying: “Here, these contraptions that we built will propel a bullet at fast speeds at whatever target you aim them at. So, go find a target and fire away.”

No! There are rules to abide by and it’s on every mature adult to know them and abide by them. Ignorance is no excuse.

A third issue that bothers me in this country is Americans’ “need for speed.” Or, more accurately, Americans’ problems with not knowing the rules of the road, or just blatantly ignoring them. It’s like a person will get behind the wheel of a Porsche and just want to see how fast they can drive and how cool they can look.

Finally, as the above article notes, there is precedence for a person suing Porsche and winning. In 1980, the article states, Cynthia Files borrowed her husband’s Porsche and drove 60 mph in a 25 mph limit. Supposedly Files was “caught off guard” by how violently the turbos kicked in and she panicked, overcorrected, and got into a crash that killed her passenger. She lived and walked away free and clear even though she had been drinking before getting in the vehicle. Meanwhile, the widow of the passenger who died in that accident sued Porsche instead of suing Files. And the widow won.

Say what?

Our justice system may be better and more advanced than a lot of third-world countries out there, but it’s still out of whack sometimes.

Take responsibility for your own actions, use sound judgements with a clear head, and quit asking for money that is not yours unless you’ve legitimately lost it because of somebody else.

Facebook ‘down time’ may be a blessing in disguise

Facebook has gone down three times in a month.

I don’t suppose I’m in the minority by saying I’m a little pleased by this news, am I? It’s good every now and then for people to put down their phones and other digital devices and start living life instead of boasting or griping about it.

Do I use Facebook? Sure. I’m not a hypocrite. But I also know that we as a nation, myself included, have a little bit of a Facebook problem.

Woman sacrifices life trying to save others

Would you risk your own life to save a stranger’s? It’s a deep thought and one I’m not sure is made so easily. But this heroic young woman did just that and wound up giving her life trying to save others. What a sad story, but an uplifting one as well.

“She had a heart of gold. She would do anything for you. She would try to help anybody that needed help,” said Betty Smith, Jessica’s grandmother. “What she was doing wasn’t stupid or careless. She was trying to help somebody else, to maybe save another life and ended up losing her own.”

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13 (NIV)

Duck tour vehicle collides with charter bus

What a terrible tragedy! I’m curious how this accident happened, and by the looks of the damage, it had to have been a pretty high-speed incident.

I’ve been on duck tours before and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a scenario like this.

I pray for all those involved — whether directly or indirectly — for recovery and comfort.

Pope visits U.S.; hopefully has strong views on U.S. policy

Pope Francis is visiting the United States for the first time on Tuesday, and his presence surely will draw attention from all walks of life in this country.

The Catholics and other Christ followers will surely flock to hear what he has to say while nonbelievers and stout supporters of the separation of church and state will be wary, skeptical or downright dismissive of the pontiff’s visit.

As a Christ follower myself, and one who is disturbed — to say the least — by the direction of the country and in its out-of-whack list of priorities, I’m very curious to hear what message he has to deliver to not only our government but our citizens as well.

I would hope he addresses the wealth in our country and the responsibility that comes with it. We have more poverty in this country than a nation of this prosperity should ever have. I would also think he might discuss abortion and the right to life for all unborn babies, the sanctity of marriage, and religious freedom in general.