CHANGE IS COMING

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America’s Next President Will Be In Over His Head

From the Nov/Dec 2008 Trumpet Print Edition »

Change is coming, yes—but not the kind the candidates think. By Joel Hilliker

“Let me offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first-country-second Washington crowd: Change is coming!” John McCain promised in his speech at the Republican convention in September. He used the word 10 times. “We need to change the way government does almost everything,” he said. “We’re going to … make this government start working for you again, and get this country back on the road to prosperity and peace.”

Barack Obama, his opponent, has been promising change from the beginning of his campaign. “It’s time for [Republicans] to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America,” he said—one of his 16 mentions of the word during his own convention speech. “And that’s why I’m running for president of the United States.”

It is the perennial promise of politics. Something’s wrong with the way things are. We’re going to get in there and shake things up. Get this country moving again. It is the most oft-repeated theme of the candidate asking for votes. As soon as I’m in power, we’ll set things right. It is the essence of the nominees’ pitch: that utopia is just a vote away. We will sweep out the corruption and bring a new era of prosperity and peace. This time, it’s really going to change!

The promise of change has, in fact, motivated most every putsch and coup and revolution in history. Think beyond America’s borders for a moment. Change was the promise Pervez Musharraf once offered Pakistan. It was the promise that inspired Palestinians to vote Hamas into power in 2006. It was the promise of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Change was the promise of Castro’s Cuban revolution, and of similar events throughout South America. It was the promise of most of the big men presiding over their bits of the African continent. Even Adolf Hitler campaigned to a disgruntled electorate on a promise to solve his nation’s economic woes. No leader ever sets out to create a legacy of same-old, status-quo failure.

Still, the fact remains that not one of the primary forms of government in human history—monarchy, democracy, republic, oligarchy, despotism, tyranny—nor system of political economy, from capitalism to communism—has brought about and sustained any real semblance of peace, prosperity and happiness for the masses. Not one has truly made good on its promise. All have been plagued by failure and corruption.

Among the innumerable company of history’s experiments in governance, the republic of the United States stands as the greatest. And still we see an election whose overarching theme is aimed at addressing broad discontent and anxiety among the electorate with the promise of change.

With thousands of years of such failure to look upon, why then do we cling to our conviction that a solution is almost in sight? The grim reality remains as the Prophet Isaiah described it nearly three millennia ago: “[W]e wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.”

Promises, Promises

Like every presidential aspirant, John McCain is making some big promises. He has pledged, among many other things, that if elected he will combat hunger nationwide, save the Everglades, work to rid Africa of malaria, and win the war in Iraq. He will end dependence on Middle Eastern oil, capture Osama bin Laden, expand the military, and ensure the nation has high-quality intelligence. He promises to restore people’s trust in the government, inspire greater public service in Americans, help smokers quit, protect doctors from lawsuits, ensure that students have access to excellent schools, secure America’s borders, fix fema, train workers for the new economy, and make U.S. employees more globally competitive. He also plans to balance the budget, stop wasteful government spending, rescue Medicare, and save Social Security without raising taxes. And this is just the short list.

Wouldn’t it be remarkable to see a president achieve all that? But wait. As far-reaching as these promises are, they don’t even touch those of his opponent.

Obama has promised, among many other things, that if America elects him, he will safeguard all nuclear material worldwide within his first term, stop new nuclear weapons development, finish the fight in Afghanistan, crack down on al Qaeda in Pakistan, end the Darfur genocide, and create a Palestinian state that exists with Israel “side by side in peace and security.” He aims to cut the world’s extreme poverty in half and boost international aid. He will help revitalize inner cities, overhaul immigration laws, outlaw discrimination against transsexuals, ban racial profiling, make the criminal justice system into one that will inspire every American’s trust and confidence, and even attract more doctors to rural areas. He will provide free college education for those who want to become teachers, supply health care and broadband Internet access for every American, preserve Social Security, rebuild aging infrastructure, and build a 21st-century Veterans Affairs hospital—all while slashing federal waste and cutting taxes for 95 percent of working families. He will “make sure our economy is working for everybody,” and generate “nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy.” He pledges to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050, to reduce electricity demand even as the population increases, to “end the age of oil,” and to “work to solve this energy crisis once and for all.” Again, this is just cherry-picking from a much larger list of his campaign pledges.

It gives you a good idea of how socialistic the nation is becoming: The only serious contenders for its highest office are seducing voters with the lure of more government programs, more entitlements, and more regulations and laws.

But how much do Americans believe either of these men could actually keep these promises? Hard to say. Generally, politicians aren’t held too hard to account for their soaring campaign rhetoric.

It’s a good thing, too, because those promises are about to be absolutely shredded.

The Real Issues

For one, the system itself is designed to limit a president and prevent executive overreach. This alone would prevent most of those promises from ever being fulfilled.

But the reason those promises of change are going to meet the same fate they always have has more to do with priorities. Already, the concerns that many of those promises address are being overtaken by far more pressing, even existential concerns.

Right now, the American economy is embroiled in what Alan Greenspan has called a “once in a century” crisis. The economic damage is irreparably decimating America’s already shaky standing as global financial leader.

The next American president will face a drastically altered economic landscape. His term could well be consumed with trying to survive the vortex of related trends sucking the economy down: sagging stock market, falling home prices, mounting job losses, failing corporations. The bounce in the dollar—caused not by a stronger U.S. but by a weakened global economy—will prove temporary; inflation will increase; consumer spending will slump. To finance his grand plans, the next president will need cash. But he will face increasingly miserly foreign lenders; as America’s credit risk grows, their premiums will go up. Higher interest rates will create additional problems: less corporate spending, fewer home buyers, anemic consumerism. The president’s other option—printing money—will further hollow out the dollar’s value. He will find it impossible to spend the nation out of recession simply because of its already historic indebtedness.

It is difficult to calculate the pressures these economic woes will put on the already strained social integrity of this nation. The next president will face far more significant social problems than his predecessor did. Unemployment, inflation, recession, food shortages—these will find corollaries in the fracturing of families and neighborhoods, the increase in substance abuse, domestic violence and urban crime. Consider as well the economy’s unprecedented dependence on alien workers, and how the levels of immigration have weakened social cohesion and created pockets of hostile foreigners within the nation. Racial tensions are rising and could well be compounded by the outcome of this election, regardless of who wins.

And as much as the next president would like to restore America’s former prestige in industry, science and technology, he will not be able to do so by pledging additional money—if it could be found—to attract better teachers and improve education. The younger generations are suffering measurable deficits in emotional maturity, intellectual capacity, work ethic, self-sacrifice, ambition and will. These crippling problems have a number of causes that America has rendered itself incapable of confronting, including societal moral decline, sloth, and family breakdown. On top of these is the sense of entitlement and complacency produced by socialistic governmental programs—a malaise that cannot be remedied by more government programs.

Compounding these problems, the next president will find himself struggling with the irrefutable uptick in environmental disasters. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency statistics, Ronald Reagan saw an average of 23 major disaster declarations each year he was president. His successor saw 39 each year. Bill Clinton dealt with an average of over 47. President Bush has seen 54 annually. Hurricanes Gustav and Ike brought this year’s total, only halfway into September, to 56. That’s a new disaster requiring governmental intervention every 4.6 days. The drain on federal resources is growing greater all the time. And those figures don’t even include the far-reaching drought that, along with widespread flooding, has ravaged food production in the U.S.

The presidential candidates, though they may differ with some of these specifics, nevertheless accept the general premise that the nation’s problems are worse than ever. In response, they each say, That makes it all the more important that you vote for me. It’s because of all those troubles that this is, in fact, the most important election of our lifetime. I’m the only man who can change things!

But there is a darker reality that both candidates and their supporters, caught up in the commotion of the campaign, are ignoring.

The reality is that the next president will be taking the helm of a cursed nation.

The United States in Prophecy

You can already see most of the problems described above besieging America. People want to believe that a new president will reverse the trends. If he doesn’t, it seems clear that he will be overwhelmed by problems.

But when you look at what the Bible prophesies for America in the near term, the true horror of the picture emerges.

The scenario we’ve already looked at is forecasted in the Bible to continue—and get far worse. Prophecy shows that the economic, moral and familial failures will keep trending downward. The weather disasters will grow more frequent and more catastrophic. The pressures on food supplies will intensify. Immigration- and race-related hostilities will heat up and explode into violence. The national loss of vigor and willpower will become even more obvious. Not only that, these issues will be compounded by still more crushing crises, including devastating disease epidemics, more lethal terrorist attacks, pestilence and famine.

In addition, God prophesied the loss within America of strong, masculine leaders to shepherd the nation through such tribulations (Isaiah 3:1-4). The resulting national weakness and wreckage will leave America imminently vulnerable to the prophesied nuclear attacks by a foreign nation that leave cities without an inhabitant (Jeremiah 4:7)—and the subsequent national captivity. For a thorough scriptural study of how these prophecies apply to the United States, and to see the ultimately inspiring reason for which God is bringing them to pass, request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

This is how the Bible describes America’s coming days. These are the curses progressively befalling this nation that has turned itself so completely away from the God who gave it such abundant blessings.

This sequence of curses is already beginning to ravage the United States at an accelerating tempo. Exactly how much will occur during the next presidential term is not certain. What is certain, however, is that the curses will not lighten up. They will only grow worse.

The only question is how quickly.

But thankfully, that is not the end of the story.

As surely as the Bible prophesies of America’s demise, it foretells of its ultimate replacement by a righteous government that will—at long last—fulfill that perennial promise of politics. Biblical prophecy contains the advance warning to all the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first-country-second governments of this weary Earth: Change is coming.

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