Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Ohio as the holy grail for Dems, and then there is Ken

Joe Klein thinks that the Democratic primary battle in Ohio for the right to try to defeat Republican U.S. Senator Mike DeWine is the most interesting thing he could talk about. It is a race between Paul Hackett, the new darling of the hopeful Dems who fall flat on his face, and the "a traditional lunch-pail-liberal Congressman named Sherrod Brown," who will win the primary. O.K., but the real story is in the Ohio GOP, and how it will maintain power in the state by re-grouping and becoming more conservative. It will do that with Ken Blackwell (running for governor), whom Steven Malanga calls "Ronald Reagan’s unlikely heir." For Malanga, Blackwell "represents a new political calculus with the power to shake up American politics." Read the article, please.   

Discussions - 34 Comments

Betty’s out!! Announcement tommorrow!! No one representing the Joanne Davidson sell out faction of the Ohio GOP is left in the race!! Hurrah!!

I predict Jim Petro will also pull out.

The Franklin County Republicans (or GOP, I forget their name) endorsed Petro. I was very disappointed. Do these endorsements matter? What is the point of them? I would appreciate some information about the role of county political parties in the primary process. Thanks.

The role of the Franklin County Republican Party is to totally miss the Reagan revolution and continue to nominate and support spineless Rockefeller Republicans who go down in flames during general elections. Sometimes they also make a real helpful push in using their positions to stab conservatives in the back on the state and national level.

As a follow up to wm’s last comment, is is worth pointing out the role that the party played in creating its own soon-to-be-nemesis, Ted Strickland. Strickland lost to Frank Cremeans in 1994, very narrowly defeated him in 1996, and was headed toward another difficult race against him again in 1998. Consistent with wm’s observation, the party people in Columbus threw their weight behind liberal Nancy Hollister (whose only qualification seems to be her personal friendship with George Voinovich) and helped her narrowly win a divisive primary. Unsurprisingly, the very conservative 6th district did not like the pro-abortion, anti-gun Hollister, and Strickland beat her by a double-digit margin.

That race established Strickland as a solid incumbent, rather than the lightweight he had been for the previous 6 years. The party should take a long look in the mirror and ask itself why it jeopardized this seat by supporting a non-conservative who didn’t even have the benefit of being a good candidate.

Blackwell has yet to get a county endorsement, and Petro has been endorsed by the state’s two largest counties. The two-man race will be close, a poll I saw showed Blackwell-Petro in a dead heat.

Petro’s spending is already in the high six figures. Blackwell "...has not yet begun to fight." Wait and see...

I’m just glad that the liberal is out of the race. Now Ohio Republicans can decide which conservative direction they want to follow as they choose between Blackwell and Petro.

Generally county endorsements mean that the endorsed candidate is the only name that appears on slate cards that thousands of voters will use. Likewise, local advertising that mimics the slate cards will only have the endorsed candidate on it. This should be a big plus for Petro; its free advertising. And Petro still has more money on hand despite his spending.

Clint, I don’t know what polls you are looking at, but everything I have seen has Blackwell up by double digits. Petro has spent a ton of money, while Blackwell has not really done anything, and he has still failed to gain any traction. Likewise, a recent Zogby poll has Blackwell leading Ted Strickland head-to-head by 4.5%, with Petro trailing Strickland by 7.5%.

I also question your assertion that Petro is a conservative. He spent most of his career as a pro-abortion candidate, so much so that he spoke at NARAL events as recently as 1998. Unlike the vast majority of Americans, he also opposed the death penalty. He notoriously "had a change of heart" on both issues at the same time that he realized he could not win a GOP gubernatorial primary with the likes of NARAL in his corner. His prior positions and his waffling on both issues indicate that he is neither "conservative" nor principled. He is, in many ways, exactly the kind of politician Ohio does not need.

Clint, You say: "Now Ohio Republicans can decide which conservative direction they want to follow as they choose between Blackwell and Petro."

Which conservative direction does Jim Petro represent?


As a political junkie, I’d appreciate a second opinion on OV 2’s comment about Blackwell. Is it true that he’s barely run a campaign yet? If so, can he pull a serious campaign together in time to win the primary? Will he have serious money? Serious grassroots?

Parenthetically, isn’t Ted Strickland the idiot who said religion and philosophy should have no role in decisions about biotechnology? And isn’t he an ordained minister, of the sinking-into-the-quicksand "mainline" sort?

David Frisk:

I have been reading about Petro v. Blackwell here and there in the Columbus Dispatch. I only know what is going on in the Columbus area, I cannot speak for the rest of the state. Petro ran several television ads right after the New Year in the Columbus market. Blackwell campaigned in Evangelical Christian churches in the fall of 2005, but I have not heard anything more about him. I think Blackwell is trying to push a budget amendment much like Colorado has (or had). Blackwell can legitimately do this because he opposed all of the tax increases a couple of years ago.

I am pretty sure Blackwell will win, so big city Republican parties are disconnecting themselves from the base (I have no desire of associating with the Franklin County Republican Party, I’m probably not the only one). Furthermore, Petro opposed the gay marriage amendment (as did Taft, Voinovich, and DeWine) which passed with 60% or so, so it must have been popular among more than Republicans, so Petro is out of step even compared to the average Ohio voter. Blackwell was the ONLY State Republican who supported it. Even more distressing (if one is a Petro fan), as State Attorney General, Petro is supporting Miami University’s lawsuit arguing the gay marriage amendment does not apply to its domestic partner benefits program. His office is arguing (or was) on their behalf. If he was rational (which is debatable) he should have told Miami to take a hike, unless the law obliges him to represent them.

Both men spoke at Ashland University while I attended. Petro was VERY condescending. He made me feel like he thought I was in Kindergarten. I was not impressed. Although Petro is a horrible speaker, Blackwell’s performance at Ashland was very, very weird. I believe Blackwell spoke at the spring commencement of 1999 (or 2000 at the latest). It was around the time Cincinnati police had shot and killed a Black male. Blackwell gave this bizarre speech about how when he was a kid the police used to carefully herd escaped cattle back into the slaughter house from where they had escaped. He argued that police should treat all citizens with the same amount of care (ignoring that cattle cannot shoot back, or other differences). It was the worst commencement speech I ever attended. I suppose Blackwell’s passions got the better of him. I think as long as he can keep them in check he ought to win, and I will be very pleased. If Petro wins I will almost certainly vote for Strickland unless he turns out to be a murderer or something, as a way to teach the Ohio GOP it needs to reform itself. One cannot expect politicians to reform because they want to be good, but they most certainly will if they must to maintain power, or get more power.

Is it true that he’s barely run a campaign yet? If so, can he pull a serious campaign together in time to win the primary? Will he have serious money? Serious grassroots?

Several very different questions are packed in there. Blackwell has barely started to spend money yet - that is very different from not having it. As to serious grassroots - he is the only candidate for either party with serious grassroots organization already on the ground and ready to roll. When he "goes up" it will be shock and awe. The only way he will be stopped is if the RINOs urge "independents" to intervene in the Republican primary and come over and take Republican ballots. Indeed, the reason Petro is already high profile and big bucks is because he cannot get traction and it is now or never.

My enthusiasm for Blackwell aside, though - let’s not throw the baby out ith the bathwater. Petro is a budget cutter who leads by slashing the budget of his own office. If he converted on abortion, as long as he stays converted, I will not hold it against him. I think he should get out of Blackwell’s way - it would be better for Ohio and for the party. Blackwell is a better candidate; he is the Reaganesque conservative. Petro is not, however, Betty Montgomery. He is a proven statewide vote-getter and a fiscal conservative, if not the passionate tax cutter Blackwell is. I don’t want him to win this race; I do want him involved at the state level.

OV2: Thispoll showed a dead heat in the 2 man race. Public Opinion Strategies conducted the poll for Petro.

David Frisk: To say that Blackwell has not campaigned yet is part of the spin here in Blackwell land. All three candidates have been criss-crossing the state seeking party endorsements, money, votes, and face time on camera. Blackwell has not ran TV ads yet, but Petro has spent a little over 1 million in ads to try to close the gap in the polls. Petro currently has the most cash on hand, although Blackwell has recently been raising more money. Both campaigns have grassroots organizations: Petro’s is traditional through county and local government, Blackwell’s is through religious organizations and his tax reform campaign.

KAP/OV2: Jim Petro represents the old and forgotten conservative principle of smaller government. He was always personally against abortion, but did not think it government’s job to control. Five or six years ago he changed his mind after a discussion with several religious people; you may call it a good political move if you like. I know less about the death penalty "change." All I know is that as long as I have known Petro is that he has stood by the death penalty provided certain safeguards like DNA evidence were properly used.

I think that Petro defines small government and limited spending. The proof is in his actions as shown by how efficiently and well he has ran his state branches of government as Auditor and Attorney General. Blackwell has not kept spending down in his post of Secretary State. From campaigning in church, to linking government programs with religion, I object to Blackwell’s big government way of mixing Church and State. Petro would be a refreshing change if he kept secular government secular, and kept churches religious. To be fair and honest, I was not wild about Petro’s TV ads. I want a governor who will cut spending, not just carry a Bible to work. His ads seemed to stoop to the same religious pandering that I see in the Blackwell campaign. So who knows?? Now that both candidates have proposed phoney tax amendments and are trying to use religion (that in my opinion is solely about saving souls) to win elections, it is disappointing. Still I think that Petro has the best chance of being a small government conservative with a proper respect of government and religion.

Clint,

A fair defense of Petro but I object to your characterization of Blackwell’s appeal to Evangelicals as pandering. Ever since he entered into politics the mixture of personal responsibility and moral and ethical restraint promoted by religion have both been major themes of his public life. In fact, they preceded his entry into the Republican party. You can dislike it - totally your right - and you can not like it while being a good conservative - as you demonstrated. What you should not do is characterize his genuine and consistent approach as pandering. It ain’t pandering when you believe it. Petro’s ads, I’ll agree, smacked of pandering because they present him in a different light - with a different policy emphasis - than his record demonstrates. Blackwell is consistent and honest here. If you do not like that, attack him on the merits of the approach, not on his sincerity.

Clint, I would hardly consider a poll found on Petro’s own website a credible source, when every independent poll taken thus far (such as the Columbus Dispatch, Zogby, the Akron Beacon Journal) shows Blackwell in a commanding lead. As for your comments on Petro’s abortion switch, there are two things you should consider. First, if Petro was "always personally against abortion," as you claim, it is pretty doubtful that he would have spoken at NARAL fundraisers. There is a significant difference between begrudgingly accepting the law of Roe, on one hand, and actively assisting in the efforts of (and seeking endorsements from) some of the most far-left groups in America. Petro falls into the latter camp. Second, Petro’s switch came at precisely the moment pro-life groups began endorsing Joe Deters (instead of Petro) for Attorney General. Of course, when he switched, many groups endorsed him instead and neutralized Deters’ primary strength. This so-called "conversion" on the issue is shameful and, almost as important, shows a real lack of leadership. He appears to be someone who will say anything to anybody in order to get elected.

As for the claim that Petro "defines small government and limited spending," I have a really hard time believing that we are even talking about the same guy. Blackwell is the only statewide Republican in the last 15 years that has taken a consistent stand against tax and spending increases. The statewides and legislative leaders that have controlled Ohio government (i.e., Voinovich, Taft, Petro, Montgomery, Davidson) are larger fans of big government, tax-and-spend policies than any group of statewide Democrats anywhere in the nation. Perhaps instead of worrying about the "proper respect of government and religion," a total non-issue, you should focus on Ohio’s high taxes and consequent economic failures. Ohio has gone from being one of the least taxed states in the country to one of the most taxed under so-called Republican leadership, and has been hemorrhaging jobs for years.

Furthermore, although I used to think that Petro was an excellent State Auditor, someone needs to point out the 8-ton elephant in the room (pardon the pun). Petro has spent more than a decade in two of the state’s top oversight posts, first as auditor and then as its chief legal officer. During that time, Ohio has seen more corruption at all levels of government than any state I can think of, ranging from large city mayors to the governor and his chief of staff to the former speaker of the house. The words "pay for play" - which should evoke shock and disgust - are so well known in Columbus that no one even cares anymore. Has Petro really been providing the kind of oversight that he should? For that matter, has Betty Montgomery? No, and the voters should make them both pay for it.

wm: Your pandering point is correct. I do not mean to say that speaking of personal responsibility, morals, ethical restraint, etc is pandering. I am quite content that any politician does this to a certain point. These principles are very important to me and to politics, although it seems the GOP of late has got a bit carried away with them. Talking about morals is good.

The problem in my opinion is doing it through the sanction of the church and organizational power structure. "Using" religion should be limited to espousing certain moral beliefs and then trusting that religious individuals will recognize your morality and vote for you. I believe this is the Reagan model. The current Blackwell/GOP model seems to go further. They are trying to organize pastors to spread the word to their congregations about what politicians support what morals and who to vote for. It’s top-down politics using the church as a messenger not just of morality, but also of a specific candidate. I find speaking in churches by politicians a shameful use of religion for personal gain. Going to the church and from the authority of the pulpit embracing a candidate (by word or by giving him the pulpit) is not simply supporting morality. Pandering is not the right word...maybe abusing the purpose of the church is a better description. Speaking from the authority of the pulpit as a politician is the Jesse Jackson political model, not the Ronald Reagan one.

Mobilizing the church, while an effective political tool, detracts from the eternal and proper role of the church in salvation. The Petro that I respect most is the one that is a moral man, but does not proclaim his morality from the pulpit like a Pharisee. (Again let me say I was disappointed by the Bible/religious commercial).

Finally, I agree with your comment about not tossing out the bathwater and the baby. I am glad Betty is gone, and can vote for either Petro or Blackwell in a general election given the liberals and phoney conservative--Strickland--that the Democrats have. I support Petro, though, and he is the type of conservative that I would hope to see the GOP get back to.

David, I did not mean to imply that Blackwell does not have a serious campaign. I was referring to the fact that Petro has spent more than a million dollars trying to bridge the gap and has been unable to do so, even though Blackwell has spent very little.

OV2: Second, Petro’s switch came at precisely the moment pro-life groups began endorsing Joe Deters (instead of Petro) for Attorney General. Of course, when he switched, many groups endorsed him instead and neutralized Deters’ primary strength.

Are you the only one that noticed this shameful switch in position? You expect me to believe that he switched mid-campaign and all these groups suddenly endorsed him? That’s hardly realistic, if as you claim his decision is so obviously political. Perhaps you would deny St. Paul too.

On spending, Blackwell is more talk and Petro is more action. Looking at their records in the offices that they have had control over, Petro’s is better. Yet you claim he is a tax and spend liberal. He is such a spender that last year he ran his AG office at $10 million dollars less than the statehouse budgeted him. Let’s see Blackwell’s record???

As for corruption, Blackwell has been in Columbus and taken Noe’s money too. If that’s a big problem for you, maybe you ought to throw them all out. The "pay to play" phrase is so tiring. We all know it happens: Petro gets money from law firms he hires, and Blackwell gets money from voting machine companies that he contracts with. Oh my, how corrupt!!! I guess it’s politics.

I guess we’ll just have to wait for a poll here in the next few weeks, and of course the only poll that really matters is in May.

Clint,

I guess I do not share your concern about the welcome Blackwell has received at evangelical churches. Go back farther than Reagan - I am sure in your political studies you do. Don’t you find that it was a major premise of the English Enlightenment that religion does just fine in politics, provided it does not constitute what Hume and Smith referred to as "enthusiasm;" (what we might think of as intolerant zealotry)? In fact, Burke, Smith, and others spoke approvingly of Christian beliefs as they were most widely and simply practiced precisely because the Christian ethos - indeed the Judeo-Christian ethos - is better than unbelief in promoting that moral behaviour which is best for the general welfare. And remember, Hume was no believer, and Smith appears to have had his doubts.

I do not think these churches embody intolerant zealotry and I think most of the moral behaviour they want government to encourage would be best for the general welfare. They oppose abortion, promiscuity, the enshrining in the law of homosexual unions as equal to heterosexual marriage, and the "naked public square." So do I - so, probably, do you. The first purpose of the church is doubtless salvation. That having been said, if you posess sincere evangelical beliefs then among your convictions surely must be the notion that it is destructive to both individuals and ultimately the state to have a society where the only practices not publicly tolerated are the devotional and the religious. When these churches which make you uncomfortable demand a formal recognition of Christianity as the exclusive religion of the state, they will have overstepped their bounds. When they want all of the Christian moral code enshrined, as such, in law they will have exceeded their proper place. If they call for a return to sodomy laws or demand active discrimination in all workplaces against unbelievers, homosexuals, or whoever, that will constitute dangerous "enthusiasm." But by simply attempting to influence the society around them, a society they rightly see as sick and disordered, they are not overstepping their bounds. The libertines, liberationists of one kind and another and the liberals are not the only people who have a right to make moral arguments in the public square - Christians have that right, too. If Blackwell shares many of their convictions - and he does share them - he has a responsibility to appeal to them as the representative of their legitimate faction.

wm - You claim that the church encourages government to regulate behavior that is harmful to society. However, I don’t believe the things you listed to be large threats to our civilization.
The government should stay out of moral behavior, other than regulating behavior which violates a person’s life,liberty, or property.

Clint,

You seem like a thoughtful conservative and you’ve made an excellent defense of Jim Petro’s conservative credentials. One question I have for you is this: What was Petro’s position on the "temporary" sales tax increase? I know that Blackwell argued against it from the outset.

My second point is to urge you not to believe the slant in the liberal media about the church-state issue and Blackwell’s campaign. To my knowledge, Blackwell has NOT spoken from the pulpit in either of the churches named in the IRS complaint. There is a huge difference in making political appearances at events where church people are in attendance and campaigning in chruches like Kerry, etc.

As far as the Reagan model, I have to disagree with you. I contend that Reagan would not have been elected without the support of social-conservative groups such as the Moral Majority. I see Blackwell’s campaign as following this model exactly.

Finally, I would urge you to read Andrew Busch’s article on conservative and MLK for a terrific defense of the role that religion can and should play in the political world.

Are you the only one that noticed this shameful switch in position? You expect me to believe that he switched mid-campaign and all these groups suddenly endorsed him?

As to your first question, no, I am not the only one who noticed. Apparently, everyone in the state is aware of this except for you. It’s certainly not hard to find commentary from either the left or the right questioning his motives or the timing of his switch. As for the second question, I don’t much care what you believe. Several pro-life groups were endorsing then-Treasurer Joe Deters, but switched when Petro had his so-called conversion. If you followed Ohio politics at all, you would know this already. And given the way things work in Ohio, it is not unrealistic that groups would support the stronger candidate just after his switch on the issue. Few people expected Petro to lose that race (including Deters, who dropped out and sought reelection as Treasurer). Pro-life groups were simply better off placating Petro than supporting his opponent.

Your sarcasm regarding "pay to play" glosses over the bulk of what I said before. Petro was in two oversight positions while the corruption at all levels of state government was rampant. And what did he do? Nothing. He is the chief law enforcement officer of the state. It is his job to catch these things. Why hasn’t he prosecuted his pal Larry Householder? I’ll tell you why. The scandals involve one of his own fundraisers, Kyle Sisk. And if you check out the December 20 edition of the Plain Dealer, you will see that Petro himself is being sued for "selling state business for campaign cash."

With regard to this nonsense about religion, it is not Blackwell who is running t.v. ads that look like ads for an evangelical church. It is not Blackwell whose ad asks "What does God expect of us?" It is not Blackwell’s ads that feature a close-up of the Bible and a set of wedding rings. It is all Petro.

Furthermore, just like the abortion flip-flop in 2000, Petro is playing both sides of the gay marriage debate. He publicly opposed Ohio’s DOMA and constitutional amendment last year, but runs the ridiculous ad above stating "We believe that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman . . . "

So which Jim Petro is it that you support? Is it the newfound Reverend Jim Petro, or friend-of-NARAL Jim Petro? Is it gay marriage supporter Jim Petro, or "bond between a man and a woman" Jim Petro? Is it "pay for play" Jim Petro, or "don’t indict my buddy Sisk" Jim Petro? Oh wait, I guess he is consistent on something.

Robin,

I have a hard time with your argument, Robin. Let me state at the outset that I want the government to be pretty small. Let me remind you that the small government candidate in this race is Ken Blackwell, even if you do not care for some of his social policies. any other candidates calling for the wholesale eliminations of both government programs and certain categories of taxation???

Having said that, let me add that all government regulation is the imposition of someone’s morality - from environmental law to noise regulations to tax policy. In practice what your argument actually means is "I do not want any legislation favorable to religious values - regulations holding up socialist values, egalitarian values, etc are somehow more legitimate simply because they are not religiously motivated.

As to the specifics. If abortion is not a threat to the right to life I am not sure what is. There is a baby in utero, then she is killed. Pretty simple - a violation of the right to life subject to regulation even under your stated principles. Large scale illegitimacy etc are a threat to your life and property - albeit indirectly. Look at the crime statistics on males raised without fathers, black, white, or hispanic. Government policies, be they welfare policies or wherever else, which discourage widespread rampant illegitimacy are better for everyone. The gay marriage issue is tougher. I oppose it simply because marriage has been btw a man and a woman since time immemorial. With Burke, I am really uncomfortable innovating in such an ancient social custom. Most of the benefits of marriage which are contractural under the law are available to homosexual couples in other ways. They should be encouraged to pursue these contractural arrangements and they should be honored as legitimate. Just don’t call it marriage.

Kyle: On your first point I do not know. My guess is that he did not take an official position and left the tax up to the legislature and governor and just ran his office. I have not heard any statements for or against it from him. I judge his conservatism based on his established record of cutting spending in both the Auditor’s and AG’s office, while improving results.

Secondly, I have not closely followed the recent church suits, but I was not under the impression that Blackwell himself spoke at those churches. They were under fire for endorsing him I thought. My statements about Blackwell speaking from the pulpit come from Newsmax (hardly a left-wing media source). As you may note, Blackwell is proud of the article as it is linked from his website. In it there is a caption on page 10 saying that Blackwell is comfortable at both the lectern and the pulpit. Also on page 11 it says, "At ease with both his religion and his politics, Blackwell preaches each Sunday and at special events around the state." It is pretty well known that Blackwell speaks from the pulpit as both a pastor and a politician.

To clarify my religious point and respond to WM and you, I must say that I am not capable of comparing the situation to Burke and the English Enlightenment. I can look back to the American revolution when churches were very political. I have read sermons from this time and while they are about the principles of the Revolution and the equality/liberty of men, they do not tell their congregations to go vote for so and so and fight so and so. Teaching morals is obviously a point of church, but telling people how to vote is not. These sermons generally do not cross that line. And they were given by professional pastors who devoted there life to sheperding the flock. It wasn’t like George Washinton rolled into town on tour and talked about the Christian duty of equality and self-defense. That would clearly be political, just like Blackwell preaching, telling people that abortion is bad, and running for governor.

My last point on religion is that I object to this less because of the positions that Blackwell takes, and more because of the affect on Christians and Churches. If we can ban abortion in Ohio, great, and if Ken Blackwell helps us do that, great! I like Blackwell and Petro’s stances on social issues. The problem is going into churches and campaigning from the pulpit or through the pastor. I can’t think of a better way to divide Christians, drive people out of churches, and screw up religion than to start choosing a church and splitting a church because of politics. Hello, it’s a church, and God is the reason. (Sorry, I’m very passionate about this). When I went around Ashland trying to put out Bush signs in 2004, I stopped at the house of one Republican. An old lady answered the door and said that while they supported Bush, she doubted her husband would take a sign. When he came to the door, he apologized for his reluctance and explained that for years he had not publicly endorsed politicians because he had been a pastor. After considering though, he told me that he would take one now because he was retired and just taught a Sunday School class. This is the kind of proper fear that Churches need to have towards politics. Endorse morals, not men.

Finally, Kyle, I have read Busch’s piece on King. While I suppose many of us would be leary of endorsing King of a complete conservative, he made a compelling case for religion affecting politics. And I think that he was right. He used religion to back up the ideals of equality and justice, not to endorse specific parties and candidates. Later leaders like Jesse Jackson corrupted the religious movement into a tool for parties and politicians. I think the King model is very much the one I have been arguing: support morals in church, but not men. This seems obvious because ideals can be pure and just and truly good while no man can be fully just and good. How can a church endorse something that is less than fully good, a sinner like you or me? The church can only support the ideal because it is pure.

Blackwell doesn’t seem content just to support the ideal of morality in church. He also wants to support his own candidacy in church. I believe this is wrong because it harms churches, and adopts the Jesse Jackson model into the conservative movement; it does not copy the Reagan and King one.

Blackwell doesn’t seem content just to support the ideal of morality in church. He also wants to support his own candidacy in church.

That is a pretty serious charge. do you have a transcript to support this amoral self promotion?

The similarities between MLK Jr. and a conservative candidate end at the fact that they both might be religious. MLK advocated socialistic policies and should not be a role-model for any sort of "conservative" to look toward.

Clint...you’ve once again posted a thoughtful and eloquent piece. I’m enjoying our conversation.

I think that we are taking different points away from the Newsmax article. I read the statement to mean that Blackwell is equally at home preaching the gospel and giving a political speech. I understand that he has done both, but I don’t see evidence that he has done both at the same time. For me, this is a critical difference.

As a former seminarian, I can appreciate the reluctance of the minister that you describe in your post. However, I can tell you that it wasn’t taught at the seminary that I attended that ordination meant a revokation of one’s 1st amendment rights. Just as the 31 pastors have a right to file a complaint, the other conservative pastors have a right to be involved in politics. While this might make you uncomfortable, I really believe it is consistent with the intentions of the Founding Fathers.

I also want to clarify one other issue. There is a huge difference between a church and a political group led by church leaders. This was my point about Falwell’s Moral Majority. I see the Ohio Restoration Project and Parsley’s group (the name escapes me) as political groups. I invite you to come on down to central Ohio and spend some time in one of these churches. I believe that you’ll find some of your concerns unwarranted at least in this case. Plus, not only have these churches not endorsed Blackwell (or any other candidate), these political groups led by chruch leaders have not endorsed Blackwell. It’s media spin to see it otherwise (in my humble opinion).

In the end, I agree with you on the fact that God loves us all...D’s, R’s, communists, Islamists, you name it. And I agree that the Christian church’s mission should be about bringing people to God through His son Jesus. I just don’t believe that in order to practice that facet of my life, I have to give up participating in politics. I’m passionate about this as a man with degrees in Political Science and Religious Studies.

Have a great day!

Clint,

How much does the Petro for Governor campaign pay you to troll around conservative blogs to "plant" his fake message.

My guess is that he did not take an official position and left the tax up to the legislature and governor and just ran his officeReferenced by Clint in Comment 25

Number 1 I think you are full of it, but lets assume for a second you are right. As a state wide elected "republican" official, he should have taken a stand!!!!!!!!!!! Republicans should be for lower taxes and when they truly aren’t, well they are down 12 points in the polls to candidates who truly are for lower taxes.

WM: No I don’t have a transcript, and I do not expect Blackwell to admit to it any time soon. When a politician goes somewhere to speak, they never do it just for the organization. It is always at least in part to benefit themselves, so in whatever part of this self-benefit Blackwell is knowingly receiving, that is the degree to which he is using churches to support his candidacy.

Kyle: You are saying all the right things, and making a great argument. It is a degree of shades about what exactly promoting and endorsing a candidate means.
Like you said, its all in how we read the Newsmax article.

I have one question about the way you interpret it. You argue that Blackwell is only taking the pulpit to preach the gospel. In my reply to WM I question if this is even possible as a politician to be fully focused on something else while making a public speech. For the sake of argument, let’s say though that Blackwell’s preaching is solely about spreading the great news of the Gospel. In his lengthy biographies I see no mention of any seminary or religious certification of any kind. If he has such training, your interpretation might be true. Otherwise it is doubtful that hearing a message from Ken Blackwell would be the best way to advance Christianity. I know he is a very intellegent, talented man, and can be a good speaker. However, with his duties, schedule, government work, etc, I doubt that he would be the best choice at preaching the gospel. Wouldn’t a trained preacher be more qualified at spreading the Word? Blackwell has never (according to bio/resume) studied religion. Certainly he has much knowledge from within himself, but I do not think that qualifies him to take the pulpit. Good preachers spend days working on just a 45 minute sermon. From the standpoint of who can preach that will teach me the most about Christianity, I do not think that Blackwell is high enough on the list.

Let me foolishly interject myself into this discussion.

Clint, do you really think that the only people qualified to speak from the pulpit are those who are seminary-trained? Cannot a public official, who commands the respect of much of the community, who speaks well publicly, and who has a deep personal relationship with the Lord, speak effectively from the pulpit and, perhaps, affect lives? I find your apparent position that someone needs certification in order to take the pulpit to be quite strange. I am certain that many men and women serving as pastors, priests, and ministers lack formal training and still find a way to spread the Word and affect lives for the better. Your argument sounds much like the snobby teacher unions who doubt that any parent could have any inkling of how to educate their own children because without a teaching certificate. Certainly, Ken Blackwell may not be the person "who will teach [you] the most about Christianity", but I hardly think that disqualifies him from ever giving a sermon.

I say all of this not knowing or, frankly, caring if Blackwell uses his Christianity as part of his campaign, or whether his church visits were intended as campaign stops or not. I personally have no problem with a candidate speaking of his faith as part of his campaign because, for men like Blackwell, his faith is a central part of who he is. I would rather know what kind of candidate I am voting for than to have that candidate give me a false image that he thinks will appeal to me. If who Ken Blackwell is bothers you, Clint, then I’m sure none of the commenters on here will begrudge you for that. However, given the positions that you seem to hold and the beliefs that you espouse, it does seem odd that you oppose Blackwell so vigorously while supporting a candidate who seems much less genuine in his positions.

What is this bizarre Manichean approach we are taking to politics here?!? Churches should stay out of the dirty dirty world and just focus on the Gospel? So the anti-slavery movement should have packed it in since that was poltical activism? The right to lifers (and right to life clergy) should restrain their pronouncements because denouncing infanticide might interfere with the Gospel? Darfur should be off the Christan agenda because boycotts and political pressure are inappropriate for churches?

Oh no! it is ok to talk about issues, but when a candidate shows up who might advance an agenda congruent with a church’s values - ie, when the church might be able to get their head out of the cloud of incense and do some good - then we should piously proclaim our independence from politics. Candidates with strong beliefs should not speak in churches because running for office is, in essence, dirty worldly self promotion?

The church is not a cave where you go and cower with the saved from the unclean world; this talk is exasperating. It cedes the field to the godless under the cloying scent of sanctimony; in so doing our pious faithful recreate in the double pleasure of taking no uncomfortable positions and feeling superior about not doing anything. I do have to wonder about the bona fides of someone who proclaims his adnerence to the gospel and conservative values and yet is more comfortable voting for someone who spoke in front of NARAL gatherings than he is voting for someone who speaks in churches.

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