The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

It’s Tuesday, December 15, 2020.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Joe Biden Wins Electoral College Vote — and Faces Increasing Demands from All Democratic Sides in the Identity Politics War

One of the most important events in our Constitutional order took place yesterday and that was the gatherings of the Electoral College and the decisive casting of the vote of those who were elected by American citizens as Electors in the 2020 Electoral College. Now that that decision is made, the official results state by state are actually according to United States law to be transmitted to Washington, DC, addressed to Congress from the respective state. So every one of the States is going to have to respond by means of the postal service. And they have just a matter of a few days to get that ready. They must all be received by Congress by the end of December. And then of course, on January 6, the Congress will meet in order to determine how it will certify the election.

But the reality is that given the fact that the Electoral College voted and voted decisively yesterday in a win for former Vice President, Joe Biden, who is now the President Elect of the United States, the fact is that Congress is almost certain to certify the election. And at that point, you’re going to move forward to a January the 20th inauguration.

Now even the fact that there is some kind of question about that is a symptom of at least an incipient Constitutional crisis in the United States. But we need not exaggerate that because I don’t believe that there are many Americans actually alive today who do not believe they have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen on January the 20th of 2021. And this has been a story that has been unfolding, especially every day, if not every hour, since the 3rd of November, just a matter of a little over a month ago. We are looking at the fact that we are now seeing every major election, especially general elections, elections of Presidents in the United States, every one of these elections is now going to be contested, every outcome is going to be declared to be illegitimate. We are looking at a poisonous cycle in our politics.

It is no secret that I was disappointed in the way that the election turned out. And yes, there are huge questions about how we need to make certain, even more certain, that our elections are accurate. But the bottom line is that once votes are made in the United States, it is virtually impossible that they become unmade. You’re looking at the fact, and this has been basically an acknowledged reality of electoral politics on both sides of the aisle for decades, you are looking at the fact that by the time you have votes that are attested, votes that are claimed, votes that are reported and eventually certified by the States, well then you have an election. And even if you’re disappointed, and I’m disappointed in this election outcome, the reality is that the events are set into sequence that will eventuate in the person who’s declared to be the victor of the election and for the Presidency, the winner of the Electoral College to be certified in the first days of January and sworn into office on January the 20th.

I did not want Joe Biden to be elected President of the United States, but he is now the president-elect, and one of the things we have been talking about since the 3rd of November is the pattern of what we now see as the appointments made by the President Elect in view of his administration now coming much clearer into view. It is a very problematic, a very troubling view. I’ve mentioned appointments such as Xavier Becerra, the current Attorney General of the State of California, as the designate to be the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. He is a culture warrior from the left, and we can count on the fact that he is only taking the job in order to push that culture war from the left. When you’re looking at the sanctity of human life, you’re looking at the definition of human sexuality, you’re looking at the reality of gender, you’re looking at a conflict with religious liberty, all of this is now very much in play and on the line once Xavier Becerra, if confirmed by the Senate, becomes the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

You can go department by department. Some of the senior nominees already named look like something of a third Obama Administration, and that’s to the consternation of the rapidly growing influence of the far left in the Democratic Party. And that explains many of the headlines we have seen. For example, this past Sunday’s edition of the New York Times had a front page article, even now after all the identity politics, after all the diversity championed in all of these cabinet choices and other federal opinions, the headline in this article by Michael D. Shear is this: “Heat on Biden Over Diversity Grows Intense.”

Now even before we look at the substance of this article and the story behind it, we need simply to remind ourselves that identity politics itself is actually one of the most dangerous and toxic ideas ever to enter into America’s political discourse. And once it has entered into American political life, it becomes the dominant idea. It pushes everything else out of the way. Everyone is keeping score. And of course, this leads from identity politics to the idea of intersectionality. We saw that actually a major news story championed, congratulated, the president-elect on being very sensitive to intersectionality. That means keeping even further score, ever more minute score. It means coming up with every kind of identity that one can claim or be designated and then suggesting that there are those who are more oppressed than others in order to come up with a calculus of who is actually the most oppressed of all.

But as we pointed out when we discussed that issue on The Briefing, that’s a never ending process, because there’s always going to be someone else to show up to say, “I am more aggrieved and oppressed than thee.” But the left in the United States and the Democratic Party in particular is now absolutely sold out to identity politics. And this leads to all kinds of problems, including for the President Elect, because he’s not going to be able to please everyone. He has a limited number of the most important positions to fill. And even as he’s trying to tick off all the boxes in identity politics, the fact is he can’t keep up. But he created the problem. Now he’s going to have to live with it.

The article in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times began, “The head of the NAACP had a blunt warning for president-elect Joseph R. Biden. When Mr. Biden met with civil rights leaders in Wilmington last week. Nominating Tom Vilsack, a former Secretary of Agriculture in the Obama Administration, to run the department again, would enrage black farmers and threatened Democratic hopes of winning two Senate runoffs in Georgia,” Derek Johnson, if you’ve lost track, that’s the head of the NAACP, told Mr. Biden.

But nonetheless, the former Vice President now President Elect actually did nominate former Governor and former Secretary Tom Vilsack back to the position he held for all eight years of the Obama Administration. But as the reporter tells us here, “The episode was only one piece of a concerted campaign by activists to demand the president-elect to make good on his promise that his administration will ‘look like America.'” That’s put in quotation marks. “In their meeting, Mr. Johnson and the group also urged Mr. Biden to nominate a Black attorney general and to name a White House Civil Rights Czar.”

The next line, “The pressure on the Democratic president-elect is intense even as his efforts to ensure ethnic and gender diversity already go far beyond those of President Trump, who did not make diversity a priority and often chose his top officials because they looked the part and we are told it was coming from all sides.” The next sentence, “When Mr. Biden nominated the first Black man to run the Pentagon last week, women cried foul. LGBTQ advocates are disappointed that Mr. Biden has not yet named a prominent member of their community to his cabinet. Latino and Asian groups are angling for some of the same jobs.”

By the way, in close proximity to that article in Sunday’s New York Times was another explaining for one thing, why Tom Vilsack was the front runner to run the Department of Agriculture again. And it had to do with the fact that early in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination, focusing primarily on the Iowa Caucuses, it was former Secretary Vilsack who put himself on the line in the cold, showing up in blizzards on behalf of Joe Biden, when Biden’s candidacy was at a low point. The same was true for former Secretary of State and former Senator John Kerry, who by the way, was also a former Democratic Presidential nominee. He was there in the cold, in the snow for Joe Biden when the numbers were low and Joe Biden turns out to repay his friends rather handsomely.

But the point here is particularly the warning to us all, whatever the sphere of our influence, that once you begin to play the game of identity politics, you begin to keep score. You begin to come up with charts and graphs. Well, eventually you find that you can’t keep up with the revolution. And that’s exactly where Joe Biden is right now. And just as if we were looking for one further piece of confirmation, the Washington Post abides yesterday by giving us a headline story by Dino Granddoni and Alexander Ellerbeck with the headline, “The Campaign Heats Up for Biden to Pick a Native American For His Cabinet.” In this case, the focal position is that the Department of Interior. The Secretary of that department, and as the reporters tell us, “An increasing number of liberal members of Congress, climate activists, Hollywood celebrities, and tribal groups are coalescing in support of representative Deb Haaland, Democratic of New Mexico, and enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna to become the first descendant of North America’s original people to be the next Interior Secretary.”

At this juncture, my point is not to deal with any one of these nominees or potential nominees, but simply to point to what happens when identity politics is set loose. But you also have the fact that Joe Biden was only nominated by the Democratic Party when there was a concerted effort to try to eliminate other candidates from the race, so that Bernie Sanders an openly, personally avowed Democratic Socialist did not gain the nomination. But the price of doing that is that Joe Biden had to swerve to the increasingly powerful left wing of his party. And the left wing is not staying in one place. It is moving almost hourly further to the left. And so the Joe Biden, who thought he knew what he was talking about when he spoke of diversity in his cabinet appointments, is actually not going to be able to live up to even what he spoke. And furthermore, the demands are growing even since he gained the nomination and even after Election Day. And the demands aren’t going to stop.

So now we have the unrequited concerns of Native Americans and the LGBTQ community. And you have the rival concerns of other groups, such as Latinos and Hispanics on the one side, African-Americans on the other. And then you have the male/female divide. The one thing he gets no credit for whatsoever and never will in the foreseeable future of the Democratic Party is nominating a white man to anything, anytime, ever, because the logic of that party is that the one person who is least necessary in the entire equation is now a white male, because he can’t check off any boxes.

And this is a particularly awkward issue for a party, the left-wing of which isn’t satisfied itself to have a, well let’s check, a white male as the president-elect the standard bearer of their party. That’s something of an embarrassment now. The only way that Joe Biden can possibly be acceptable to his own party right now is to appoint as few persons who look like himself as is conceivable. But he’s never going to be able to keep up.

Part II

A Political Trap Entangles California’s Gavin Newsom: Why Any Appointment to Kamala Harris’s Soon-to-Be Empty Senate Seat Puts the Governor in the Hot Seat

And now, oddly enough, we see this also creating a political vice in the state of California. And it has to do with the fact that the seat currently held in the United States Senate by Kamala Harris is going to be vacant as of the time in which Kamala Harris leaves that office to assume the vice presidency. And the fact is that the Governor of California is going to have to appoint someone for a temporary position until the next election can be scheduled for that seat.

And the point is that the Governor of California is on the left of his party, or at least he started out there. When Gavin Newsom was the mayor of San Francisco, one of America’s most liberal cities, he was all in to be liberal. But the fact does that even as he later served in other posts, most importantly now as Governor, the fact is he can’t keep up with the demands being made upon him in the name of identity politics. The situation right now in California is so volatile that Gavin Newsom is likely to alienate a very significant portion of his base there in California by naming anyone who isn’t, that group’s choice to the United States Senate.

And so you have African-American leaders saying that if Kamala Harris is not replaced by an African-American, then that will not be right. You have women saying that Kamala Harris must be replaced by a woman, and you have many people saying she was a black woman, and thus there is no justification for an appointment that is not a black woman, because after all, if Kamala Harris is not replaced by another black woman, then there will be no black woman in the United States Senate. You understand how the math is being kept.

But at the same time, Hispanic activists in the State of California are saying, we are due this seat. And we expect this seat. And as a, well, just over the weekend, it became increasingly clear that those two activist groups in California are running opposition research against the likely nominees of the opposing group within the Democratic Party. They’re trying to once again, achieve some advantage so that Governor Newsom would appoint in that direction.

Meanwhile, you have the rather stunning development of a major article in the New Yorker, very influential magazine, particularly amongst those who are the cultural influencers. Jane Mayer writing for the New Yorker writes about the other California United States Senator, the now senior Senator Dianne Feinstein. And even as we now know that she was basically forced by her own party to forego once again serving as the head of her party on the Judiciary Committee, the fact is that there are now open calls for her to resign her office in toto. And the New Yorker piece suggests that she has now reached the point where the loss of her short-term memory means that she cannot be effective in the United States Senate. Is that true? Or is that false? I don’t know, but it’s extremely important to recognize that the New Yorker ran that article. They would not have run that article if they did not have a very clear intention behind doing so.

What would that intention be? Well, just think about it for a moment. Think about that chart of identity politics, and think what a massive relief it would be if Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California did not have to feel just one Senate seat by his personal appointment, but two. So it turns out that oddly enough, the retirement of Dianne Feinstein might be the political rescue for California Governor Gavin Newsom, who at least presumably would have a political advantage to have the power of appointing a temporary Senator. But actually it turns out to be a political trap right now for anyone who is going to be pushed around by the claims of identity politics.

Part III

Monumental Stakes in the Senate Run-Off Elections in Georgia: Just Consider the Unborn

But this then takes us to the other big question about the United States Senate, which is actually more consequential for the future of our nation. And this has to do with the January 5th special runoff election that will take place in the State of Georgia. It is the most bizarre development. You know about it already. Due to the fact that there was the resignation by health reasons of Senator Johnny Isaacson, that seat was filled by a temporary appointment to the Senate, made by the Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp. He appointed Kelly Loeffler, who by the way, is so wealthy she became the wealthiest member of the United States Senate once she took that oath of office.

But you’re looking at the fact that Kelly Loeffler was opposed in the senatorial election that came to the ballot on November the third, not only by a Democrat or even Democrats in this case, the most significant, the Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock in the city of Atlanta, but also by another Republican. And that would be United States Congressman Dan Collins. You look at all of this together and you recognize that not one of the candidates got 50% plus one, which is necessary for the election. Thus it is in a runoff. The runoff was between the two candidates who got the most votes. Interestingly, it could have been two Republicans or for that matter, theoretically, it could have been two Democrats, but instead it is a Republican, Kelly Loeffler, and it is a Democrat, Rafael Warnock.

On the other hand, the other Senate seat in Georgia came up for its regularly scheduled election cycle at the very same time. That meant the incumbent United States Senator David Perdue was also in the race and he was running against a man who had come close to winning a congressional seat. He is sometimes described as a filmmaker, Jon Ossoff, but it turns out that neither one of those candidates got 50% plus one. And so there’s going to be a runoff now between David Perdue, the incumbent Republican and Jon Ossoff, and thus, you’re going to have two senatorial elections held in one state on one day, January the fifth, that will establish the future of the leadership of the United States Senate, at least for the next two years. And crucially, after, you have a Democratic Administration coming into office, and you have a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

In other words, right now, this special election is now coming down, not just to which party will hold the leadership by holding the majority in the Senate, but as to whether or not the United States Senate under Republican leadership would be any break at all. A very significant break against the agenda moving to the left of the Biden Administration. The fact is this is a huge, huge question, and it’s complicated by all kinds of questions in the aftermath of the Presidential Election that is profoundly unhelpful. If one cares about the future of this nation, when it comes to issues related to the sanctity of human life, the definition of marriage, the confrontation of religious liberty, when it comes to who will be confirmed in the United States Senate to the Senate confirmed positions, when it comes to who will sit or will not sit on the federal courts, including conceivably all the way to the Supreme Court, if there is a vacancy, as there is almost sure to be during a Biden Administration, then you have to care a very great deal about what happens in Georgia.

The Georgia two Senate runoff races will become a national obsession by the time that vote happens on January the fifth, but the voters of 49 states are simply going to be sitting on the sidelines or in the stands as spectators while the voters of Georgia alone decide this question. And it is a monumental question. But you’re also looking at two different races that will be on one ballot and the likelihood is there isn’t going to be a lot of ticket splitting here because of the issues that are at stake. You expect this now with any D or R, that is Democrat, Republican, face-off in an election. You’re looking at two rival parties. Yes, but you’re looking at two massively divided worldviews. And as you turn to Georgia, a state that had been very red, but turned blue or at least blue-ish when it comes to the Presidential Election in 2020, the reality is that when you’re looking at the Perdue/Ossoff race, you’re looking at it very traditional Senate race. And if it were by itself, it is likely that David Perdue would win.

When you are looking at the Kelly Loeffler/Raphael Warnock race, you’re looking at something that is unprecedented in the State of Georgia. Now you’re looking at the fact that Kelly Loeffler was appointed to the position that some Republicans wanted someone else, but she has run towards the Republican base. She is definitely hoping the Republican base turns out for her and understands what is at stake, but she is running against the Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, who just may be the most radical candidate conceivable from a state like Georgia. As a matter of fact, it really isn’t conceivable. He is the current pastor of the Ebeneezer Baptist Church. That historically is the church that was associated with both Daddy King, as he was known, Martin Luther King, Sr., and Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s the church that is very famous in the civil rights movement.

Raphael Warnock, however, is not primarily famous for his support for the civil rights movement, but rather as an advocate of Black liberation theology. He received his seminary education and his PhD from Union Theological Seminary, which is the castle of theological liberalism in the United States and also of leftist political activism. And the fact is that Raphael Warnock holds positions that are, you would think, scandalous to the majority of the voters in Georgia. When it comes to the question of abortion, he holds one of the most radical pro-abortion positions that is imaginable. He basically has said that there should be no legal limitation upon a woman’s right to abortion. And yes, it’s just like we’re listening to the New York Legislature, right up until the moment of birth. He puts that in the language of liberation theology, puts that in the language of the abortion rights movement.

But make no mistake. He is one of the most radical candidates on abortion to run, not only in the South, but anywhere in recent American history. When it comes to the LGBTQ issues, he’s in exactly the same place. You’re looking at someone who has put virtually no breaks whatsoever of any form in place when it comes to the collision between the sexual revolution and religious liberty. Well, again, very predictably we know where Rafael Warnock is. The question is, do the voters in Georgia actually recognize where he is? Do they understand what is at stake? We’re going to find out on January 5th, but now is the time for the voters of Georgia to wake up and understand what’s going on.

And for Christians observing this to understand the value worldview issues, issues of very great significance that are at stake here. News came yesterday in a news report by Michael Ruiz of FOX News that more than two dozen Black pastors, many of them from Georgia, sent a letter to Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock, urging him to reconsider his stance on abortion. In their letter, the African-American pastors said, “Unborn Black, Brown and White lives are so much more than clumps of cells, burdensome inconveniences, or health problems.” They continue, “They are sacred human persons endowed by God with an alienable dignity and worth. We implore you to uphold the Biblical defense of life and to fight against the systemic racism of abortion.” A very crucial statement there, the systemic racism of abortion.

That’s a very important reference here to the racism of abortion. That’s a hugely important issue that the mainstream media does not want to confront, but the voters of Georgia are going to confront it, whether they like it or not on January the fifth. It’s very interesting that later in the article we read, “Warnock’s campaign questioned how much the signatories actually had in common with the candidate, noting that the list included outspoken supporters of his runoff election opponent, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, as well as President Trump pointing to Bishop Garland Hunt and Dr. Alveda King, a FOX news contributor in particular.” Fascinating.

So you see the identity politics coming to the fore here as the Warnock campaign even question whether these African-American pastors have much in common with Raphael Warnock. We then read this, a statement from the Warnock campaign. Spokesperson Michael J. Brewer, “Reverend Warnock believes a patient’s room is too small of a place for a woman, her doctor, and the United States government. And that these are deeply personal healthcare decisions, not political ones. He also believes that those who are concerned about life ought to be focused on the incredibly high rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality and working to make sure we are expanding access to healthcare, not taking it away.” Now just notice what’s there. It is an outright statement that Warnock’s not changing, mitigating or even redefining his position on abortion. It’s full bore support. Even stating that the United States government has no interest in the question whatsoever.

He raises other issues that are of course a part of our moral concern, but then it goes on to describe abortion as healthcare. Speaking of his commitment to expand access to healthcare, not take it away. The reality is if Raphael Warnock were not such a liberal candidate running from the left of his own party, he would be a very successful Senate candidate in the State of Georgia. There are so many other assets to a Warnock candidacy, but when you come to just looking at the issue of abortion as if it’s only one issue and it’s so important, it is the first issue of my concern. The reality is that you are looking at someone who has placed himself all the way in the position of supporting what is described here as a woman’s access to healthcare by her decision alone, all the way right up until the moment of birth.

I think it’s hard to exaggerate actually the importance of these two Senate seats up in this special election in Georgia on January the fifth. We’re about to find out where Georgians actually stand on these issues, and through this special election, given its consequence, where America will stand on so many of these issues. We’re going to find out where the unborn stand, that’s for sure.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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