Posts Tagged politics

Restoring Honor Rally: A View from the Crowd

On August 28, a multitude gathered around the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. for Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally, which raised more than $5 million dollars for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.  The speakers included representatives from SOWF, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Dr. Alveda King and Marcus Luttrell. Pastor Paul Jehle and Dan Roever delivered the opening and closing prayers.

Since there is no shortage of opinion circulating about the Restoring Honor Rally, I wanted to offer a view straight from those who participated.  L.T. and Tina Bowens traveled from Oklahoma to attend the rally.  Tina is a Captain in the U.S. Army and L.T. attends Oral Roberts University while caring for their daughter at home.  This is their experience.

1. What motivated you to attend the rally?
Tina: I have been listening to Glenn Beck for a while and the message of the event was appealing. I wanted to participate—to take a stand for the realization that a spiritual awakening will be necessary for America to regain honor.
L.T.: I was really motivated by Tina.

2. What was most significant about the experience for you?
Tina: The closing speech by Glenn when he said, “God is not done with you yet, he is not done with man’s freedom yet.” This was significant because although our country hasn’t been perfect, we have done many things well.  We have a firm foundation to draw from as we look to the future.  We have the freedom to choose. Individually we must get our own lives in order, turn to God.
L.T.: Several people said, “I’m glad you’re here.” One older man said, “I wish more of you could be here.”  I believe he was expressing that he really wished people knew they are not racist and they want to be united. (L.T. is African-American.) Anyone can have an impact and make a difference if we make the decision to do so. God is not done with you; he is not done with man’s freedom.  The presentation was genuine. I appreciated the lengths they went to and the effort they made to be inclusive.  I especially liked the definition of honor that I heard: Honor is keeping your promises.

3. What was most disappointing about the experience for you?
Tina: I lament the pervasive deception that prevented more people of different ethnicities from attending the event in greater numbers. So many have been told outright lies about Glenn Beck and the people who were to attend the rally.  Actually, it just saddens me that we’re not able to penetrate the deception and reach more people with the truth, yet.  One other aspect that was disappointing was the looks of disdain from protest groups.  That made me uncomfortable. 
L.T.: As a believer in Christ, while I appreciate the idea of being unified, I do have a concern that people could miss being unified in Christ.

4. What types of comments did you hear from people who attended the rally?
Tina: The sharing of ideas, encouraging one another toward civic involvement, people getting to know each other in conversation.
L.T.: Concern for their country, concern over people being oblivious to what is going on in the country, “we’re not going away—it doesn’t end at this event,” the agenda of the Obama administration, loss of freedoms.

5. How would you describe the composite of people in attendance?
Tina: A great mix of ages, vocations, families, retired folks, veterans, and community groups.
L.T.: Most of the people seemed to be middle to upper income, business owners, but there were young families too.  Mostly Caucasian, maybe 8-10 percent people of color, various ages, but a lot of 50+ in the crowd.

6. The theme of the rally was restoring honor in America. Did you walk away with a clear understanding as to how to do that (the solution), or was the focus more about the lack of honor in America (the problem)?
Tina: The problem of the decline of honor in America was acknowledged, but there was more of a focus on the responsibility of the individual to put themselves on God’s side.  The military was an example of honorable behavior. People were encouraged to emulate the courage and honor displayed by our military personnel in our own lives. We were encouraged by the awards for Faith, Hope, and Charity, and hearing their stories. Dr. Alveda King talked about focusing on character rather than skin color.  There was a 40-day challenge issued for each person to turn back to God (prayer); sacrifice for one another, our children, and our future; being honorable in your own life by getting the lies out of your life—stop lying to others or yourself.
L.T.: For me, it is to keep my promises.  During the song Amazing Grace, I thought of the verse, I was blind, but now I see.  Even though saved, I can still be blind to certain things or issues. When we depend on ourselves, we can be blinded, when we depend on God, we see more clearly.  We must be oriented toward God.

7. Was there a particular speech that was especially stirring?
Tina: Alveda King’s speech and Native American pastor, Dr. Negiel Bigpond, who introduced C.L. Jackson.  He spoke about the need for all people to hear the gospel of Christ, for Native Americans to come off the reservations to impact their community and no longer be isolated.
L.T.: Glenn Beck’s concluding speech when he talked about the “giants” of history (Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King). Alveda King’s speech: She thanked Glenn for putting together a rally that focuses on the content of a person’s character rather than the color of their skin. To be united as the human race.  She ended her speech encouraging people to repent from racism.  I feel like people also need to repent for unforgiveness toward those who have been racist toward them.
[Beaufort County Now, Dr. Alveda King ended with these words: “I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day that the God of love will transcend color and economic status and cause us to turn from moral turpitude. I have a dream that Americans will repent from the sin of racism and return to Honor. I have a dream that America will pray and God will forgive us our sins and revive us in our land.”]

8. How would you describe the atmosphere at the event?
Tina: Hopeful. Peaceful. A feeling of community and willingness to help one another. A sense of camaraderie, we are not isolated or alone.
L.T.: They [the people at the event] were some of the nicest people you would ever meet. People proud of the freedom they have because others sacrificed, yet humble, motivated by gratefulness for what they have.

9. L.T., what are your feelings about this rally being held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech?
L.T.: I felt some would misunderstand and misrepresent the intention of holding the rally on that day.  Personally, I believe it was honoring to Martin Luther King, but it went beyond that. Some people think that day [MLK’s speech in 1963] is just for people of color, but it is for freedom for all people—all mankind. People who think it is just for one group of people missed the point.

10. What impact, if any, do you believe this rally will have politically?
Tina: People are less apathetic, becoming more involved in their communities. The religious leaders of the Black Robe Regiment committed to take the principles of honor back to their church community, estimated to reach over 1 million people. They will encourage their congregations to be informed in their voting/political choices and more involved in their own communities.
L.T.: People left with a sense that they were not alone. They realized that hundreds of thousands of people believe and stand for the same things that they do. This has the possibility of encouraging people to get involved and solidify their resolve to stand firm on what they believe—to not give up. If people had a question as to whether they should get involved, this event helped them make that decision. I have a new resolve to sacrifice to preserve freedom in this country.

Note: Doug Schoen, political analyst and Democratic pollster, mentions meeting this couple in the Dallas airport in this article: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/09/03/doug-schoen-tea-party-mainstream-media-bias-glenn-beck-martin-luther-king/#content

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Race to the Top & Core Standards: Part I

What it is, How it’s Funded, Who Benefits

Here in Colorado, news is circulating about the disappointment over not being chosen as a finalist for Race to the Top funding (R2T). A number of other states are dealing with the same discouragement, left with unfunded mandates.  In earlier news, the adoption of the Common Core Standards by the Colorado State Board of Education, received very little attention.

This is my attempt to shed a little more light on these two subjects, which are really the same subject: education reform. I think most people agree that something needs to be done to improve education in America. This first part in the series will focus on the facts about R2T and Common Core Standards—what it is, how it is funded, who benefits—all crucial to understand before forming solid opinions about whether this new mandate is the something America needs.

Why does it matter? Because according to the U.S. Department of Education, it is an unprecedented federal investment in education reform and $4.35 billion dollars is a lot of money to follow.

What is Race to the Top?
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund.

According to the U.S. Department of Education: The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund includes $4 billion for statewide reform grants and $350 million to support states working together to improve the quality of their assessments.

The Race to the Top state competition is designed to reward states that are leading the way in comprehensive, coherent, statewide education reform across four key areas:

  • Adopting standards (Common Core Standards) and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace;
  • Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals how to improve instruction;
  • Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
  • Turning around their lowest-performing schools.

Phase I
Forty states and the District of Columbia submitted applications for the first phase of grants.  Delaware and Tennessee were selected from among 16 finalists.

Phase II
The 10 winning Phase II applications in alphabetical order are: the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island.  See all state applications and scores here.

For more information about the Race to the Top Fund and the requirements the states were trying to meet:
http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.pdf

Pic by: © Lucila De Avila | Dreamstime.com http://www.dreamstime.com/free-stock-image-5k-street-race-rimagefree6167867-resi2437745

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Primary Issue

In the Colorado primaries, the turnout rates were well above those held in Georgia, Connecticut, and Minnesota—over 40 percent for both Democrats and Republicans—matching or exceeding the turnout rates for all primaries going back at least three decades, according to the Denver Post.  Two things believed to contribute to the high level of turnout here in Colorado were the convenience of mail-in ballots and the tight contests within both parties. I can attest to the convenience of the mail-in ballot, my husband and I have voted that way for years now.  Whether it is the greater ease in the process, or the desire to make a difference, it is good to see more of the citizenry participate.

As a delegate for the first time this year, I quickly recognized the value of getting involved early. I found the election process to be akin to Christmas shopping months in advance—there’s a lot more to choose from early on, but come December (or November in this case), you may not be happy with what’s left.  Based on the record numbers turning out to vote in these primaries, it would appear that complacency has run its course.  November will bring enough political spin and media hype to wear us all thin.  However, there has scarcely been more impetus to understand the times and the impact of the decisions made within our government, than right now.  Our future and the future our children and grandchildren inherit, depend on it.

The primary issue is, there is more at stake here than simply motivating people to vote for a shift or stay in power.  On the opposite side of apathy can be a blind political affiliation that fosters loyalty to party above all else—even above personal faith or thinking critically. We must resist the notion of simply checking the box beside the (R), (D), or (I), we must answer the why questions.  Why do you believe that?  Why do you think that?  Why is that a better solution?  Why does a particular candidate deserve your vote?  If we do not know why we are aligned with a particular group or idea, we are vulnerable to the changing winds of politics and those who would use emotion over principles to gain power.  It is not simply our right it is our responsibility.

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How the 1st Amendment Keeps Us Free

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Our right to worship without government interference or persecution is the fundamental freedom to choose our core principles, which is the governance of self.  Not by compulsion externally (organized religion by government), but instead based on personal conviction. This freedom is the linchpin to the other four—one cannot be free publicly if they are not free personally.

Our right to speak freely enables active and authentic participation in the citizenry as a whole. This allows agreement or disagreement in the discourse of governance, which can only be forthright so long as those governing cannot interfere.

Freedom of the press is an organized corporate voice, empowering the right of free speech. This freedom carries the weight of the collective right to agree or disagree, as well as giving voice to the individual—thus making government answerable to the people.

Peaceful assembly is the ability to take freedom of speech to the public forum, whether in protest or proclamation. This right brings balance to the freedom of the press by empowering rights of speech without depending on the will of the press, or its editors.

Petitioning the Government is a citizen’s right to hold accountable those who govern, by political or legal means. A government constrained by the law governs more aptly than one operating above of the law.

We cannot overlook that the 1st Amendment rights come with inherent responsibility. These rights expressly limit government, “in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added”; however, personal freedom must not become an excuse for self-indulgence.  As citizens and a nation, we are only as free as we take responsibility for being so.

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Leaving Apathy Behind

Today I had the privilege of attending the El Paso County Assembly as a delegate, ready to cast my vote for upcoming county races that will be decided in November.   As a newbie, I probably looked a little bewildered trying to find my way around this new realm in which I have ventured.   It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was not an elite group of professional political junkies (well, some of them were), but instead, average Americans we see in our neighborhoods, or run into at the grocery stores and carpool lanes we frequent.

Like them, I am concerned about the future of our country and wanted to get more involved to make a difference.  It felt good to be more informed about the political process, hear directly from candidates and better understand the roles of those we often elect because there’s only one, uncontested bubble to fill-in.  I’m still not sure why a coroner or a surveyor is an elected position rather than an appointment, but at least now I know what they busy themselves doing for taxpayer dollars.

At one point they asked for a show of hands to signify first-timers, almost 30% of the attendees raised their hands.  Based on comments, it seemed as though that was more than in prior assemblies, but without real numbers it would only be a guess.   While making my way through the venue to the meeting place, I could hear mention of the Tea Party event scheduled for next week and several indicating their plans to attend.   According to the media we hear that people are angry and I suppose some may be.  However, after going and seeing for myself, first-hand, I would describe it as more like resolve.  Resolve to pay closer attention, get more involved and defend what we hold dear.

Overall, I must say, I am most encouraged by the willingness of friends and neighbors to step-up and leave apathy behind — a renewed civic interest that is refreshing and inspiring.

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