After three plus weeks and nearly 5,000 miles driving around the heartland of America, one can sense three distinct currents moving in the country.
The first is that the economy in both urban and rural areas is, with few exceptions, on fire. Job vacancies are posted everywhere and wages are being pushed up in many categories. Americans haven’t seen this type of dynamic economic growth and enthusiasm in well over a decade, and millennials have never know this kind of opportunity in their working lives.
When you talk to business people, there is absolutely no question that the Trump tax cuts, repatriation of foreign earned capital and deregulation are the source of the dramatic economic turnaround from the virtually “no growth” economic performance of the past decade.
The second distinctive is that the working men and women of America detest both political parties and the elite “ruling class” who have fed off Washington for decades, including the now ubiquitous radical left socialists, Marxists and run-of-the-mill America haters who have captured the so-called citadels of “higher learning” on American campuses. Tens of millions of Americans are now “on to” the ransacking of both the public trust and treasury through cronyism and special interests.
They are also repelled by politicians who now publicly admit what has been obvious for some time; that they are actually more interested in helping people who are in the country illegally than protecting average tax-paying citizens, and they support causes and movements whose agendas often lead to violence, or even the murder of police officers, and removing public safety officials from duty.
There is also a deep foreboding among average citizens about the disclosures of systemic corruption in the highest reaches of both the Department of Justice and the FBI and what that means for the nation going forward.
That said, these same citizens have a special loathing for elected Republicans and many organs on the right, whom they judge as weak, frivolous and dismissive of the president they chose over seventeen other Republican candidates and Hillary Clinton.
It is not lost on the rest of America that these Republicans lied to them during several election cycles about what they would do with Congressional power. Not only wouldn’t Congress actually repeal Obamacare when they received the power they asked for, they won’t defund Planned Parenthood and its extermination of 300,000 babies a year, and couldn’t even remove PBS and NPR from the public dole, in an era when virtually everyone has hundreds of TV programs and thousands of radio stations to pick from twenty-four hours a day.
If there is a consensus, it seems to be that our politicians and the national government have become self-serving and contemptuous of the people they are sworn to protect and prosper.
Finally, the third observation is that religious faith in America is changing fast, which is hardly a new revelation. But changing to what exactly is not so obvious.
Mainline traditions have lost millions of members, and there seems no bottom to the collapse in their congregations as these churches pursue social justice causes and trendy politics, at the price of a clear presentation of the Gospel message. This is happening while all across the country there are evangelical, Bible centered churches that are hard pressed to seat the crowds they draw. My observation from this trip and others recently, is that there is an incredible appetite for authentic worship and Bible teaching, and that the real strength of America’s churches is misjudged by looking only at raw numbers.
There is a healthy, incredibly strong body of faithful Christians in the heart of America that is responding to the ancient call to authentic worship and sacrificial living.
These observations also coincide with the clear pattern that has settled into the American story; we are now a nation divided between those who believe that an Almighty God ordained our Founding and destiny, and those who believe that an almighty government must choose our way into the future.
This unsettling truth finds very little room for compromise or the promise of a peaceful resolution. And yet, this isn’t the first time the American experiment has been stretched to breaking.
Perhaps it is an inevitable cycle, where a re-dedication to what America is – and isn’t – will only be found in the churning currents unleashed by the thirst for human freedom. For authenticity. For goodness.