The Briefing

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The Briefing

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

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It's Tuesday, April 27, 2021.

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

Part

Which States Are Gaining or Losing Seats in Congress, and Why? Census Data Point to Big Shifts in American Population and Politics

Demography does make a difference. We see that across the United States, we certainly see it across the globe. Even in the United States, you are looking at the fact that we have a clustering of people by world view.

And as we often remark, the closer you get to a campus, the closer you get to a coast, the closer you get to a city, the more secular and the more morally liberal a society becomes. We also are accustomed to looking at the map of the United States in terms of blue states and red states and sometimes we talk about purple states. Most of those states have been trending more red to blue.

But even as we're looking at a map and we see red and blue states, we also have to understand that while we're watching changes in electoral behavior, we're also going to be looking at changes at the electoral map. This is due to the input from the 2020 United States census. And yesterday, the data became public about which states would gain seats in the United States Congress, and which states would lose them.

Now, how does that happen? Well, currently, and for a long time now, the House of Representatives has had 435 seats. So as you look at all 50 states, there are 435 congressional seats that are apportioned by population. That is to say that when you take the census data, you look at the aggregate population of the states and when it comes to comparing those states, there is a formula for coming up with how to apportion those 435 seats.

Now, what does it mean in the shift from the data from the 2010 census to the 2020 census? Well, yesterday we found out that there will be several states losing seats. Those states include New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, also the state of California. Now there's big news there just in terms of the states that are losing a seat because they lost proportional population.

And there are states that gained seats. Indeed, Texas gained two seats, and the states gaining one seat include Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. Now there are some surprises here. There have been the expectation that both Florida and Texas might actually gain even more seats, that Florida might gain two and that Texas might gain three. That didn't happen.

Remember, we're not just looking at net population gain, we're looking at proportional population, state by state. But the big surprise here is not actually a surprise, it's just a stunning development, and that is the fact that for the first time in American history, the state of California is losing a seat. Now, as you look to the final decades of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, the big story was spectacular population growth in the state of California.

As a matter of fact, looking at the nation over the course of say the last 50 to 60 years, there has been an enormous population shift toward the coast. And that's not just a shift of people moving, it is also relative to birth rates and patterns of immigration. So the big stunning headline here for the state of California is that the Golden State for the first time in its history or the nation's history is losing a seat, which means there have been more people leaving California than moving to California over the course of the period of 10 years covered by the 2020 census.

There are a lot of reasons for that, at least part of it might be the social liberalism of the state of California, but more probably has to do with the fact that California has a vastly higher set of taxes that are found in many other states in the United States. For example, you're looking at the fact that Californian's are moving east, and after all in general terms, they basically have to move east in the continental United States, but they're moving even to states like Idaho. But there are many Californians relocating to places like Texas with much lower taxation.

But once again, as you look at this map, the losing states, by proportional population and thus losing power, are New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia with California. And the states gaining tend to be in the Sun Belt or in the areas that have experienced population growth such as Colorado, but also interestingly Montana.

So the states gaining are Texas two, and then one for Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon. North Carolina is a state that represents the demographic trend known as the halfbacks. This has to do with people moving from the north to the south. They might in previous decades have moved even further south, but they decided to move about half way back. That is to say North Carolina rather than the peninsula of Florida.

But you're also looking at the fact that Wyoming has a new congressional seat as the new Congress will be seated after the 2022 election. What happened in Montana? Well, Montana is one of those states with only one congressional district, but it gained proportionally also with an exodus of people from other states, generally such that it has gained a seat.

By the way, there are several states that are so small in proportional population that the entire state is a single congressional district. You're looking at states that would include Alaska, Delaware, Montana though not after 2022, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Well, you look at that and you think for a minute, most states have a greater number of congressional seats in the house than they do senatorial seats because every state has two senatorial seats.

What's going on here? Well, it goes back to the vision of the founding of the United States, in which in the separation of powers, there would be a distribution, even in Congress between two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives would at least be somewhat analogous to the House of Commons in the British parliament.

The United States Senate, though not hereditary, at least in theory, like the British House of Lords does fulfill something of an analogous role, but the Senate is far more active in legislation that the British House of Lords. The bottom line is however, that the Senate was intended to be the upper chamber, the cooling saucer as was often described in which legislation that might be passed by say the populist and hotheaded house would find tougher going in the Senate, just think of today's headlines, pretty much exactly what the founders intended.

But as you're looking at this, you recognize that some states actually have much more power than they otherwise would have because they have two senators, the Senate is not proportioned according to population. That's really important. Otherwise, when you're looking at states such as Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and actually many other states as well, they would have far less importance in American politics if they did not have the guaranteed placement of those two senators according to the American constitutional order.

Now wait just a minute. That's exactly why many on the left want to see the Senate apportioned differently than equal, two per state. And that's because they're saying, "Look, that means the people of Wyoming or Montana, North and South Dakota, they have two senators, but so does the state of California." But that's the point. California, under the new census, will still have 52 members of Congress. Texas will have 38 and Wyoming will have one.

But every state will have two senators and that is a part of the leveling of America's constitutional order. Wyoming still will not come close to the electoral vote of a state like California, but it would basically in political terms, cease to exist if it did not have the equal representation in the United States Senate. Once again, by the way, the two big states will still have outsized representation.

California will be down one from 53 to 52, Texas will be up one from 37 to 38. The big story there, by the way, is Texas. The spectacular growth and the population of Texas and especially in several of the big metropolitan areas in Texas has made Texas something of the California of the new century. But there's another big story here, and that is the fact that when you look at most of the states that are losing congressional seats, most of them are bordering the Great Lakes. And that had been the great heartland vote of the United States.

Just to give you a comparative chart here. In 1920, that would be a hundred years ago, the states that border the Great Lakes elected 175 of the members Congress. But after the new census, they will elect only 113. So if you're looking at one massive population shift, which also means a political shift and a power shift in the United States, it is away from the Great Lakes that had been the great industrial heartland.

We understand why a hundred years ago, in 1920, you were looking at the Great Lakes states being the political future of the United States, all of the factories, all of the industries, United States Steel, General Motors, Ford, those giant companies and all of their suppliers, and of course, millions and millions of workers to populate all of those factories and also so many of the factory towns and the big cities such as Chicago and Detroit, Milwaukee, you go down the list.

The Great Lakes was the great heartland, it was the center of populist political power in the United States, particularly in states such as Wisconsin and Minnesota. But finally, as we're looking at the story of demographics and this new apportionment in Congress and we're looking at basic political shifts in the United States, just keep in mind that the electoral map, that is the electoral college is made up of the votes each state has, and that is the number of house and Senate seats added together.

So California will have one less vote in the electoral college, Texas will have two more. But here's where, despite the fact that the Midwestern states, the Great Lake states have been losing relative population, they're actually at least for a short time gaining political clout. And that is because they are among the very few states that really do swing back and forth in an American presidential election.

So as we saw in 2016, and again in 2020, many major American presidential elections, and in truth, all presidential elections are major elections, those Great Lakes states can still hold political destiny. Those looking at the census data, even looking at the congressional reapportionment are thinking in terms of math, but Christians understand there's a lot more going on here than mere arithmetic.

Part

The Politics of Celebrity and the LGBTQ Revolution: Gov. Gavin Newsom to Face Recall Election in California and the Individual Identified as Caitlyn Jenner Plans to Enter the Race

But next, even as we're looking at big political developments in the United States, we go back to the state of California, which has a very unusual, constitutional provision, and that is a recall measure for the state's governor and it is almost certain now that California's very liberal, very Democratic governor Gavin Newsom is going to face a recall vote.

How did that happen? It all starts with a petition drive and a sufficient percentage of California voters have to sign the petition saying that they want to see the governor of this state recalled. Once a sufficient number of signatures, a sufficient percentage of the state's population have indicated the desire for a recall vote, then eventually it has to be scheduled once it's certified.

And here's the thing. There are two questions. The first question is whether or not the incumbent governor should be recalled. The second question is the election of a successor. And the interesting thing there is that the incumbent cannot be listed in that second part. So if you are the incumbent governor of California and a sufficient number of people in your state vote to recall you, you can't be on the ballot to succeed yourself. It's going to have to be someone else.

In this case, if the recall succeeds that someone else had to be someone else than Gavin Newsom. Has this ever happened before? Well, yes. There has been exactly one California governor removed by this recall, that was in a recall election against Gray Davis, the incumbent Democratic governor in the year 2003. Who was then elected governor? Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator, the famed Hollywood actor, of course, who was a major celebrity in the United States.

The fact is that by the time the recall election took place, even though it was not a direct head-on choice between Gray Davis, the incumbent and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican challenger, in effect that's how California voters saw it. And this tells you something else about the relative power of Hollywood and politics. Far more Californians knew the name of the challenger, the Hollywood celebrity Arnold Schwarzenegger than knew the name of the incumbent governor Gray Davis.

And Gray Davis had such a low popularity rate in the state of California that his recall became almost assured once someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger emerged as an actual alternative. It turned out once in office that the Arnold, as he was known before he became known as the governor was not very conservative, nor even very Republican, but nonetheless, he was enough to displace Gray Davis.

Gavin Newsom is going to be a very interesting story, far more flamboyant than Gray Davis who often according to his critics failed even to live up to his name. But when you're looking at Gavin Newsom, you're looking at someone who has been a meteoric star in the Democratic Party. He has played to the left from the very beginning. He is the son of a judge in the San Francisco area.

He emerged in politics in 1996 when the mayor of San Francisco, the now infamous Willie Brown appointed him to the city's parking and traffic commission. You might not think that's a way to start a meteoric political career, but it turned out that it was. He ended up after that, serving as a city supervisor, he was later elected mayor of San Francisco, where he made quite a name for himself, performing what were then very early and very illegal same-sex marriages.

He later served two terms as California's lieutenant governor before being elected in what amounts to a landside as governor in 2018. But what can happen between 2018 and 2021 that would explain a recall petition? Well, interestingly, it's not COVID-19. It probably would be because the governor is incredibly unpopular given his role and policies in the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's not a major figure in getting the petition before California voters because that petition drive began before COVID was a major issue. But make no mistake, COVID is going to be the major issue. The governor's management, or as many would say, his mismanaged of the COVID-19 pandemic is setting him up for what is now a backlash among voters.

But you're also looking at something else, California Democrats now have what they did not have in 2008, and that is a vast political advantage over Republicans. There hasn't been a Republican elected to statewide office in now about 15 years. In reality, Democrats basically run the show. And of course, even if Gavin Newsom were to lose the recall vote, the reality is he couldn't be succeeded by another Democrat. It's basically whoever gets on the ballot and gets enough votes in part two of a recall petition, if indeed it comes before voters, as we believe it now will probably in the fall. For Gavin Newsom, the big question is what will California voters be thinking about when the recall election is almost assuredly held in the fall and Democratic electoral figures are almost certain to delay the recall as long as they can? That's to Gavin Newsom's advantage.

But think about something else. Gavin Newsom is also planning to run for reelection in 2022. So if he does win the recall question, he's likely to do so by the way, he is likely to be back on the ballot in 2022. And the only real action when it comes to most statewide elections in California is on the Democratic side. So it's also true that if Republicans have any chance to regain the governorship in California, it is probably by recalling Gavin Newsom and electing a Republican to replace him.

How likely is that? Well, it's probably not very likely in the first place, just given the voter registration and population patterns, but it's now unlikely for another reason, and that is the fact that the best known declared Republican indicating a desire to run in this race is the individual known as Caitlyn Jenner, previously, Bruce Jenner.

As Bruce Jenner, Jenner's family had moved to California, he became a major figure, of course, in Olympic sports, winning the Olympic decathlon, getting his picture on the front of the Wheaties box, that's about the most important athletic real estate traditionally over the last several decades in American history. But he left the cover of the Wheaties box as Bruce Jenner in order to become very famous in 2015, famous or infamous as the individual re-introduced to the American people as Caitlyn Jenner, identifying as a woman and now declared by so many to be what Christians know actually cannot be, the compound known as a transgender woman.

But nonetheless, what we see in the case of the individual identified as Caitlyn Jenner is the power of the moral revolutionaries to shift the vocabulary and thus to shift the entire morality by declaring that Bruce Jenner's now Caitlyn Jenner, and that as Caitlyn Jenner, this individual intends to be on the ballot, hoping to be elected governor of California in the event that Gavin Newsom is recalled.

If you're following this, welcome to the wild, wild world of California politics where celebrity and politics has always collided in one sense or another. Just think of the entertainer Sonny Bono famously married to Cher who became a member of Congress. But then consider far more famously and importantly, the reshaping of the entire national political landscape that came as Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, also formerly president of a labor union, the Screen Actors Guild was elected to two terms as the conservative Republican governor of the state of California, and then went on in 1980 and again in 1984 to be elected and reelected as president of the United States.

Fast forward to 2003, the Arnold as governor, and now fast forward to 2021 and you have the person identified as Caitlyn Jenner who intends to be on the ballot. Now, it's also interesting to see, especially in newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times that understands more than other media outlets, what it means to be at that very interesting intersection of Hollywood and politics.

The observation is being made that Caitlyn Jenner is no celebrity match for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Still identifying as a man, which he clearly was and actually biologically clearly is, Bruce Jenner married into the celebrated and controversial Kardashian family, the epitome of all of the foibles and all of the moral complications in America's celebrity culture. He's still considered a member of that family.

But what does it mean that the name Caitlyn Jenner will be on the ballot for section two? We are now told of the recall ballot if indeed the governor is according to question one, that means section one actually recalled from office. If Gavin Newsom is not recalled, it won't mean anything except a lot of media conversation.

But if California voters actually get to the second question, who should succeed Gavin Newsom? Well, the situation could get interesting and the campaigning on the way will also be extremely revealing. No one told you that American politics was boring? Just look at the state of California. There's proof positive.

One essential question, if that second section does come into play in the recall election is whether Californians are actually as liberal and progressive as they claim when it comes to some LGBTQ issues, including transgender identity. It also comes down to the question as to what exactly would qualify the individual identified as Caitlyn Jenner to be the governor of California. Because the main thing that Caitlyn Jenner is known for is being known as Caitlyn Jenner.

Christians know there is much more to the story than that and there will now be much more to the story of California politics. No fiction writer could pull this off in imagination, but apparently it's going to be reality. We'll be watching it closely.

Part

The LGBTQ Revolution Is the Great Dividing Line in American Culture: Seattle Police Chief Withdraws Invitation to Dinner Hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

But finally, we're going to stay on the American west coast, but we're going to go north to the state of Washington where the Seattle Times has reported another story for the Times, the headline of the article that was released on April the 17th is this, "Seattle Police Chief Rescinds Dinner Invitation Sent by Evangelical Group Known for Anti-LGBTQ Stance."

What is the group? It is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Yes, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is identified in this headline as an evangelical group "known for anti-LGBTQ stance." Now, if you don't know anything else, understand as we look at this last issue on the briefing today, that's where we stand as we understand the culture around us.

The culture sees us for one thing. The LGBTQ revolution is so absolutely overbearing in the entire society that if you do not surrender to and enthusiastically become a supporter of the entire LGBTQ agenda, then you're going to be identified in headlines as being known for "anti-LGBTQ stance". That's the great dividing line in the culture.

Christians are often told that it is we who are drawing that line. No, we are standing on conviction, but we see the line being drawn again and again and again in headlines such as this. What is the purpose of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association? It is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What was Billy Graham known for? The proclamation of the gospel.

What does the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association exist for? It is evangelism. But of course in today's arena, you have to be understood as either submitting to, or standing over against the moral revolution. And Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist, Billy Graham, the late founder of the BGEA and an iconic figure in American religion, Franklin Graham has been quite outspoken on these issues.

But he is also not only head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, but he founded another group known for its philanthropy and charity work known as Samaritan's Purse. But now you can expect that if you and your ministry or your church refuse to give total surrender to the LGBTQ revolution, you're going to have this kind of headline as well.

The story behind it, by the way, just in summary is that the BGEA through one of its programs was sponsoring a dinner in honor of the first responders, in particular, the police in Seattle and someone in the department had approved from the department's wellness unit an invitation being sent out. Activists quickly complained about the fact that the BGEA's dinner was actually now being officially spread through the communications mechanisms of the Seattle Police Department.

The police chief withdrew the invitation and the police department has basically been apologizing for the grave cardinal sin of ever having anything to do with an invitation to an event honoring police by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. A spokesperson for the police department said according to the Seattle Times that, "He didn't know how the invitation was extended to SPD or what internal discussions occurred before it was emailed to employees."

But the spokesperson went on to say, "Obviously it was not the department's intent to offend the LGBTQ members of the department and the LGBTQ community at large." The mayor of Seattle also basically said that in her view, it was wrong for the invitation ever to have been recognized by the police department. And a spokesperson for the mayor Jenny Durkan said, "As a gay woman and mom of two, Mayor Durkan has fought for LGBTQ rights for decades and continues to work with Chief Diaz to ensure SPD, the Seattle Police Department reflects the diversity and inclusivity of our community."

Again, you cancel a dinner by one of the most famous Christian organizations in all of American history in the name of diversity and inclusivity. That only works by the way if you take the definition of those words and turn those definitions on their head.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com\albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.

I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me using the contact form. Follow regular updates on Twitter at @albertmohler.

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