Electoral College Map

Electoral College—The Purpose & Process

By Elise DeYoung

Let’s examine the purpose and process of the Electoral College. For several decades, there has been a simmering debate over whether or not we should abolish the Electoral College. Especially since the 2000 and 2016 elections, when the Electoral College elected President Bush and then President Trump despite losing the popular vote, this debate has become increasingly mainstream.

In fact, a clear majority of Americans support replacing the Electoral College with a popular vote, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

However, before we can even consider abolishing our system of presidential elections, we must be sure that we understand its process and purpose.

The Process of the Electoral College

The US presidential elections have two stages: the primary and the general. You can find more information about the primary here. The general election commences once each party has chosen a nominee at the conclusion of the primary.

Similar to the primary system, the general election is composed of three rounds:

  1. The Campaign
  2. The People’s Vote
  3. The Electoral College

The Campaign

Campaigning during the general election is different than the primary since voters are now familiar with the candidates. However, this is still an essential aspect of the process since it’s the candidates’ final chance to persuade the public.

So, once more, they perform interviews, participate in political debates, and present speeches to maintain the support of their political base and persuade others of their position to win states.

The People’s Vote

As established in the Constitution, the people’s vote officially takes place on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November.

The standard voting method, in general, is very similar to the primary voting system. Americans gather at the ballot boxes to cast their vote individually. In addition, the concepts of “early voting” and “mail-in ballots” have been introduced in recent decades. No matter how you vote, election officials count the votes at the end of the Tuesday following the first Monday of November.

If you want to learn more about the voting laws in your state, read an article by USA Facts, How Do Voting Laws Differ by State? or refer to your state constitution.

However, the people’s vote does not determine the result of the general election. This is because American elections are not conducted by a popular voting system. Rather, the founders designed a system called the Electoral College.

The Electoral College

Briefly put, the Electoral College comprises electors from all fifty states that convene every election year to cast their votes, directly electing the President.

Who are these electors?

The Constitution provides only two stipulations when it comes to the electors. Article II, Section One, Clause Two states that an elector may not hold another office of Trust in the U.S. government. Furthermore, Section Three of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution says that no individual who has engaged in an insurrection may hold any office in the U.S. government, including the position of elector. Any further rules that apply to who can be an elector and how they are elected are left up to the states to decide.

How are the electors chosen?

The parties in the general election choose potential party-approved electors. Then, the people elect which electors they would like to represent them.

How many electors are in each state?

The number of electors in a state equals the number of Senators and Representatives in that state.

For example, Iowa has seven electors, while Wisconsin has ten, and Florida has twenty-seven. The Library of Congress has a country map showing the number of electors per state.

How many electoral votes are needed to win?

The winning candidate must receive at least 270 electoral votes, a clear majority. Suppose there is a tie, or the majority is too slim, which happened in the case of Thomas Jefferson versus Aaron Burr in 1801. In that case, Congress resolves the vote.

When does the Electoral College assemble to vote for the President?

They meet in mid-December after the popular vote has taken place. So, while we often celebrate or mourn the results of the people’s vote, the election is still not over for another month.

The answer is the same as the delegates in the primary. Depending on the party and state they represent, some must align their vote with the results of the popular vote in their state. Others can vote for whomever they see fit.

The Process & Purpose of the Electoral College

This process is more complex than most election systems in other countries. Why did the Founders establish this system with so many steps when they could have established a popular vote?

There are two main reasons why the founders were wise to create the complex system of the Electoral College.

First, they rightly feared the tyranny of the majority. Alexander Hamilton said it well when he wrote, “The people is a great beast.” They knew that the people had to be controlled by a system that was out of their control.

The people is a great beast.” —Alexander Hamilton

Second, the founders also knew that the federal government could not control the system that controlled the mob of the majority. An election system that was in the hands of the federal government could, and probably would, be manipulated by those in charge. They would secure power for themselves by silencing the people’s voices and disqualifying the opposition.

This is why the Constitution includes so many checks and balances. It distributes power among all fifty states rather than centralizing it in the office of the President alone, and why the Founders avoided settling for overly simple systems.

Electoral College—Still Relevant Today

The Electoral College is a firm institution that holds both the tyranny of the majority and the power of the government at bay. It does not allow for either of these groups to ultimately corrupt elections because neither group has the final say.

It is no surprise that those with political power do not like the system, it stops them from securing ultimate victory for their party. Neither is it surprising that the majority dislike the system, it doesn’t bow its knee to them. All in all, I would say that the Electoral College is doing exactly what it was designed to do.

And as the cliché saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Elisa DeYoung explains the purpose and process of the Electoral College.

Elise DeYoung is a Public Relations and Communications Associate and a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!

Informed Citizenry

Informed Citizenry Limits Unintended Consequences

Robert Bortins reminds us in this episode of “Refining Rhetoric” the importance of an informed citizenry and the need for engagement in tackling the issues of today. With the quick pace of life and a faster pace of information, it can be difficult, if not overwhelming, to keep up with it all.

Chris Blackburn and Robert’s quick chat might help you think through how education can affect foreign policy. They explore the consequences of U.S. payments to Iran—linking them to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, rising oil prices, and inflation.

Engaged and Informed Citizenry

Let’s not sit on the sidelines. Let’s stay informed and involved!

How?

Check out this episode below. Listen to other episodes of Refining Rhetoric.

Have You Noticed the New Format?

There is a new format for the Refining Rhetoric podcast. In the first week, Robert interviews a Christian leader, whether they are a spiritual leader, in the business sector, engaging in the culture war, or active in the political arena. The following week, the discussion revolves around a current event headline and crypto news.

Don’t miss out on these resources and opportunities as an engaged and informed citizen. You can encourage other people to stay informed and involved, as well.

Robert Bortins, CEO of Classical Conversations profile headshot

Robert Bortins is the CEO of Classical Conversations® and the host of Refining Rhetoric. The company has grown from supporting homeschoolers in about 40 states to supporting homeschoolers in over 50 countries and has become the world’s largest classical homeschooling organization under his guidance.

an "I voted" sticker with an American flag design on it

The Power of the Primary

by Elise DeYoung

Every four years, Americans gather at the ballot box to voice support for our desired presidential candidate. Sadly, in recent decades, this exercise of our republic has been intensely polarized due to political unrest and institutional distrust. This is a serious problem because the “government of the people, by the people, for the people…” [1] cannot stand if we, the people, don’t trust our representatives or the system that elected them.

So, it is vital that, regardless of who you vote for, we all find a common ground of trust in the election system, which Samuel Adams once called “one of the most solemn trusts in human society.”

The most fundamental aspect of trust is understanding. You do not trust someone you do not know; likewise, it is difficult to trust a system of government that you do not understand. Americans must fulfill their responsibility to know how the presidential election works and realize why the founding fathers ordered it as they did.

The presidential election is divided into two main stages: the primary and the general elections. These elections are similar in their structure (the campaign, the people’s vote, and the delegates’ or electors’ vote) but are very different in their methods. This article will explore the first stage of the election, the primary.

The Process of the Primary

During the primary, presidential candidates fight to become their party’s nominee for the general election. It is a ruthless cycle of endorsements, eliminations, and elections, and it is easiest to understand this process in three stages or “rounds.”

  1. The Campaign Trail
  2. Primary Vote and Caucuses
  3. The National Convention

The Campaign Trail

Round one of the primarythe campaign trailusually starts at the beginning of the election year. This primary stage is when candidates promote their political intentions, their reasons for running, and their public image to voters and sponsors.

During the campaign trail, candidates will give speeches, air campaign ads, do interviews, kiss babies, and talk about their favorite ice cream.

While this process can seem trivial to the average voter, it is a brutal battle for the candidates fighting to gain public and financial support to sustain their campaign through inauguration day.

The candidates, who have established a public image and a potential path to victory, are then pitted against each other in debates and the polls. This happens so that each candidate can attempt to persuade the voters and sponsors to support themnot the other guy.

These debates force many candidates to drop out of the race before voting even takes place, as they lose support to their more popular competitors. Once this occurs, the remaining candidates turn their attention to the vote.

Primary Vote and Caucuses

There are two methods by which states conduct voting in round two of the primary. Some states use a primary vote, and others host caucus events.

The primary vote is similar to the general election. With this method, voters individually go to their designated voting location to cast their ballot.

On the other hand, the caucus method is much more public and involved. A caucus is an event held by the state’s party, where members of that party gather to persuade others to their candidate publicly and cast their votes at the end of the night.

Interestingly, caucuses were historically the main voting method in the United States until the 20th century when states decided that the primary voting system would be “fairer” and “more democratic.”

It is easy to recognize the vast differences between these methods.

  • Primary voting is individualistic
  • Caucuses are communal
  • Primary voting allows you to ignore other opinions and opposing arguments
  • Caucuses require you to engage with different sides of the political debate and defend your candidate

Another distinction is that the state government runs primary voting, while the political party runs the caucus event.

Primary voting can be open, semi-closed, or closed, depending on your state. In an open primary, voters registered with any party can vote for any political party candidate. Semi-closed means that registered voters can only vote for the party they are registered to; however, independents can choose whichever party they wish to cast their vote to. A closed primary means that each voter must vote for a candidate in their registered party.

Closed caucuses require you to register for the party you will vote for ahead of the caucus.

Common Misconception about the Primary

We must now address a significant misconception about the American presidential primary. Some people believe that when they vote in the primary, they vote directly for the candidate they choose. However, this is not the case. The people do not nominate the candidate; the party does.

When you vote in the primary, you are not voting to nominate the candidate; you are actually voting to award your candidate the delegates of your party, who will be the ones to nominate someone at the National Convention, which is round three of the primary.

The National Convention

Simply put, each state has delegates for both Democrats and Republicans, and candidates earn delegates based on the results of the people’s vote. The method of distribution depends on the state’s election laws. Some states reward the candidate with the majority vote with all the delegates, while others divide them based on percentage.

This process is different in each state, so I recommend researching how your specific state awards candidates with delegates.

One thing that is standard across the board is that for each party, some delegates must vote in alignment with the result of the people’s vote in their state, while others may vote for whomever they see fit. Democrats call restricted delegates “pledged” delegates, and Republicans call them “bound” delegates. Those who are not restricted to the results of their voter’s primary are “unpledged” according to Democrats or “unbound” according to  Republican delegates.

In addition to these titles, many other distinctions exist between how the Democrats and Republicans run their conventions. Learn more about the Democratic method and the Republican procedure.

No matter how your state and party conduct the specifics of the delegate’s role, at the National Convention, each delegate votes for their party’s nominee, and at the end of the night, the nominee is announced.

The Founder’s Concern & The Power of the Primary

All these different steps and complicated methods beg the question, why not just establish the simpler method of a nationwide popular vote?

“The people is a great beast.” —Alexander Hamilton

The founders rightly feared the tyranny of the majority in a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Alexander Hamilton famously said, “The people is a great beast.” They knew it was easy to convince large swathes of a population to support the most exciting politician in the room, but that politician wasn’t always fit for the Oval Office. Just take a moment to consider that Adolf Hitler was a fan favorite among the German population when he was appointed as chancellor in 1933.

So, in their wisdom and foresight, the founding fathers established what could be considered “indirect elections.” They created a system where the power of the elections is held by each state rather than being centralized in the federal government, where the people have their voices heard and taken into account without the majority overpowering the minority, and ultimately, where trusted and educated delegates and electors stand between the people, the federal government, and the White House.

Vote!

“On average, the primary turnout rate for all these states combined was 27%, while the general election turnout was 60.5%. This means that less than half of the voters that cast a ballot in the general election turned out for the primary.” [2]

These numbers are very disheartening because it means that Americans have forgotten the power of the primary.

We must engage in our elections because they are the bedrock of our republic. So now that we understand how the primary works and why the founders established it the way they did, let us vote so that “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” [3]

Not only must we engage in our elections, but we must pray for and communicate with our elected officials regularly. Here are some resources for you.

Read other blogs written by Elise here.

Elise DeYoung is a Public Relations and Communications Associate and a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!


[1] Lincoln, A. (1863, November 19). The Gettysburg Address [Speech]. https://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm

[2] (2022, July 28). Turnout in Primaries vs General Elections since 2000. States United Action. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from https://statesuniteddemocracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/historic_turnout.html#Overview

[3] Lincoln, A. (1863, November 19). The Gettysburg Address [Speech]. https://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm

a man holds up a phone to cover his face

Why Gen Z Males Prefer the Right

by Robert Bortins

Gen Z males are leaning more right than left, a recent survey shows. When it comes to political momentum, it is easy to feel intimidated by cultural forces. Especially for younger generations, we are persistently told that revolutions come from youth, and the cultural tides are shifting because of young voices.

Moreover, when touted from the left, this can be disheartening, knowing that Gen Z fills the voter pool with indoctrinated principles planted by far, far leftist public academia.

Is there hope for Gen Z?

However, as politicians, Hollywood, and mainstream media bully conservatives with these empty talking points, the data shows the opposite. And this is especially the case with Gen Z males.

In episode 71 of Refining Rhetoric, Robert explores why Gen Z males are leaning conservative twice as much as liberal, as discovered by a recent survey that contradicts the widely held narrative that Gen Z has a leftist bent. There is hope for Gen Z.

Check out the episode below. Listen to other episodes on Refining Rhetoric or check out “How Civility Can Save Our Country.

Why Gen Z Males Prefer The Right

Robert Bortins is the CEO of Classical Conversations® and the host of Refining Rhetoric. The company has grown from supporting homeschoolers in about 40 states to supporting homeschoolers in over 50 countries and has become the world’s largest classical homeschooling organization under his guidance.

a closeup of open hands

Factions & Fractions

by Lauren Gideon

As a classical educator, I can’t hide my enthusiasm when I find connections between the disciplines and realize the opportunity to practice the classical tools.

To set the stage, we are now walking full steam ahead towards securing the presidential party nominations and the November general election. If you are an active participant in politics or even just a spectator, you know that things aren’t just as simple as team red vs. team blue. Even in our system, dominated by two major parties, it’s not as if we’re separated into giant circles, holding hands and singing Kumbaya.

Why not?

Factions.

Factions – What divides us

Factions are smaller groups within the larger group that often have robust disagreements with other factions based on their differences of opinion. They usually take a bad rap but are a strong indicator of freedom. Our copious evidence for diversity of thought (factions) affirms our political tolerance for freedom of thought, speech, association, etc.

The word fraction is just one letter different and simply refers to a smaller part of the whole. These two words have much in common, but they are not related. However, our factions ARE fractions. It is human nature to form factions within our larger groups, like our families, churches, associations such as political parties, our nation, our world, or within all of humanity past and present, which are consequently fractions of different wholes. Madison discusses factions in Federalist No. 10, which explains the inevitability, the necessity, and the problems they can cause, but also how best to control their effects.

The conservative sphere is fraught with factions and, consequently, fractions. Now, what we know of political power in our republic is that when you divide your collective voice into smaller and smaller groups, it loses power and influence. Those concerned with efficacy are frustrated by these factions that fraction the influence of the whole. To consolidate influence, they cry for unity. Unity is nothing more than the combination of these fractions. And the fractions must combine to have any successful operations.

Combining fractions? Operations? That sounds like arithmetic!

Combining fractions requires the operation of addition. To add fractions, however, we must follow the rules of that operation. Step one is to attend to the elements. We know a fraction has both a numerator and a denominator. The denominator is also called the base.

Now, to combine fractions for the sake of an operation, we know that we must have a common denominator. How do we do that? First, we acknowledge that every denominator is the product of several factors. (I know I have yet to connect all the dots, but I hope you can see where this is going!) When we examine our denominator, we must do the diligence of sorting out all the unique factors. To get to a common denominator, sometimes we must let go of a factor and bring in a new one. Still, we must negotiate between fractions until we can develop a common denominator on which to operate.

Do we have to agree with everyone about everything then?

In short, “no.” You need to find a common base only to operate or TO DO something. That means the people or groups we work with can change based on the thing/things we are doing. For example, philanthropy is a factor/value of many groups that may disagree on theology or eschatology. But to operate on the base of philanthropy, we don’t necessarily have to factor in values that we don’t have in common. 

Politically, we all have bases that are the product of several factors. We have analyzed some of these factors and clarified how and why they became part of our base. We still need to analyze others to have that clarity on their value. Only through this understanding (dialectic art) can we be fruitful in our rhetoric. Clarity helps us find commonality, the essential ingredient for successful operations.

Commonality vs. Distinctions

But commonality is not our nature. Factions are notorious for obsessing over our distinctions. While clarity can come through distinctions, without an appropriate value on commonality, we can kiss operating goodbye!

So why do we prefer to focus on our distinctions? I’ll answer a question with a question. If we focus on what we have in common, or what is the same value, how can we prove the value of our factor to be superior?

We can’t. There is no foothold for our pride or ego when we seek to discover that which is shared or equal. Can it be pride at the root yet again? Surly not, and especially not within Christian conservativism. (I jest).

But before we all unify around the unity train, allow me this caveat

Our common denominator is only as valuable as the factors it contains. There will be those that cry out for unity for unity’s sake. Ignore their baseless cries. Unify on factors that are good, true, and beautiful. To do this, we must know these things, love them, and look for them in the world and people around us.

Philippians 4:8 ESV

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Lauren also contributed The Free-Market Education Table at the Potluck.

Lauren Gideon biography picture

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations. She has been a home educator since her first student was born 18 years ago. She came to Classical Conversations for support when the student count in their home grew beyond what she thought she could navigate on her own. The Foundations curriculum brought their family together, provided a scope and sequence that was manageable, and always directed their attention to Christ. Lauren credits her experience as a home educator and as a leader within Classical Conversations for giving her the classical tools to tackle whatever opportunities come her way. In addition to homeschooling her seven children, she co-leads community classes that unpack our nation’s founding documents and civic responsibility. However, she is happiest at home, preferably outside, with her husband of 18 years, tackling their newest adventure of building a modern homestead.

beautifully jeweled crowns sitting on red cushions

The Perfect Monarchy

By Lauren Gideon

As I write this blog on New Year’s Day, I can’t help but take note of the colliding spheres of meaning in our holidays and in our politics. At this moment, firmly nested in between Advent and Epiphany, the entire focus of this season revolves around celebrating the arrival of the Holy Monarchy. Even people, whose consciences are opposed to recognizing December 25 for historical reasons, still revere the significance of the incarnation of the Eternal King.

Where Did Monarchy Come From?

The word “king” first appears in Genesis 14. In this chapter, nine kings are listed in the conflict that transpires. Four kings and their kingdoms wage war on the other five. When Lot and his household are captured, Abram is forced to intervene. At the end of the chapter, we learn about the King of Salem, Melchizedek, who was also a priest of the Most High God. This conflict happened around 1866 BC.

Other historical documents teach us about Namer, the first King in Egypt, who ruled around 3150 BC, and Enmebaragesi, King of Kish, in northern Babylonia, c. 2700 BC.

We have no record of God establishing a monarchy until 1 Samuel 8 (c. 1052 BC).

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:4-9 ESV)

According to this passage, the people initiated the conversation and requested a king, and their request was an act of rejection. When God calls himself the people’s king, one question was whether he was defining monarchy or leveraging a term already a part of the ancient vocabulary.

God’s granting of their request was an act of revelation and consequence. In Samuel 12:17, Samuel gives the people a sign.

17 “Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.”

And the people responded with confession,

19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.”

God Still Gave a King

But this did not stop God from giving the people what they requested. This would begin the parade of Hebrew kings.

What is important to conclude is that just because God established a human monarchy does not change the fact that the request was an act of rejection and a wicked act. There is a sentiment among some Christians that because a human king ruled God’s chosen people and God directed the process of establishing the monarchy, this must mean that the Hebrew monarchy was good. However, the text is very clear about how God frames the event. It is essential to distinguish what God allows from what He calls good.

This confusion has continued throughout time. Much of classical liberalism literature was drafted in the 17th century in opposition to the Divine Rights theory. King James I of England (1603–25), who commissioned and was the namesake of the 1611 English translation of the Bible, was the foremost exponent of the divine right of kings.1

Sir Robert Filmer wrote an essential piece of literature on the divine rights theory in the early 17th century (published in 1680). A key aspect of his argument was that he claimed, “God Governed Always by Monarchy.”

John Locke and his contemporaries spent their lives untangling this mess, drawing on their observations of history and human nature. Do you know what they discovered? To summarize, they unpacked what scripture had always been saying:

10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good,
not even one.”
(Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

Paul’s words in Romans directly echo both Psalm 14 and Psalm 53.

None on Earth is Worthy

What scripture teaches us is that none on Earth is worthy. We have no non-wicked option to set up as a king! Additionally, all humanity is equal in merit. Each individual is an image bearer of Christ and possesses a totally depraved nature. Thus, these two questions must always be asked, “Who among us is worthy to rule someone else?” and “Who among us deserves to be ruled by another fallen human?”

In Thomas Jefferson’s first Inaugural Address, he deals with this issue: “Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”

These age-old questions were addressed at the inception of our nation after centuries of debate and historical case studies. In our nation’s oldest official document, the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson penned these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”— a direct affront to the divine rights theory!

Disclaimer: Although articulated and directed towards the monarchy, the elephant in the room is that while the young nation could see the injustice of the monarchy, some did not see the obvious egregious direct parallel with the slave trade. (And let’s not join in the hypocrisy by thinking our generation is the first that neither is ruled nor subjugated. There are many mechanisms of control in place based on the false premise that one “knows better” or that we ought to protect people from themselves.)

If we are to live in civility with equals, how is that possible? How can we honor the reality that no human is worthy to rule another human?

The answer to that question and a philosophical cornerstone for our constitutional republic is that “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Our system was one in which we fundamentally confessed humanity’s wickedness and inadequacies and acknowledged the injustice that occurs when one human is subjected to another. With violence, we threw off the shackles and injustice of the British Monarchy, and the United States of America was born.

And here we sit, 247 years later, contemplating and celebrating the advent of the Holy Monarchy, the king born in a stable over 2000 years ago. Is there any chance 21st-century Americans might need to attend to their conflicting thoughts on monarchy?

How Can Christ be King, and Monarchy be Imperfect?

Human monarchies are only imperfect because humans fall short. When God was preparing Adam for Eve, God first paraded all the “not-Eves” in front of Adam.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. (Genesis 2:18-20 ESV)

Throughout history, a similar event has been unfolding from the ancient Kings, through the Hebrew kings, to the modern kings; a parade of unworthy counterfeits march across the pages of time. Their shortcomings cultivate an awareness and a yearning for what is missing. We realize that we must suffer through chaos, which is humans’ best attempt at justice, while we eagerly await the good, worthy and just King who is to come. The stage has been set for us now, the same as God did for Adam.

How do we rectify this as thankful Americans? The beauty within the American system is wrapped up in the humility and confession that no one here on earth is worthy and that each individual has dignity and deserves justice as an image bearer of Christ. As long as we embrace, manifest, and teach these principles, we are a living confession to the truth of our human condition and our need for the True King, and we live out the mandate in Micah 6:8 (ESV).

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

How Can I Embrace the Monarchy That Is?

The advent of the coming of Christ the King is problematic for our human limitations. We know that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit…

Born of the virgin Mary (First Advent)

  On the third day, he rose again from the dead.

  He ascended to heaven (Ascension)

  and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

  From there, he will come to judge the living and the dead (Second Advent)

In all this coming and going and coming again, do we forget that the “Kingdom of Christ is at hand”? That our King stands outside of space and time? That his rule is eternal and that we are eternal souls? Consider this reminder from Colossians 3:15 (ESV).

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.”

For in all these things, there is much to celebrate, and we can sing along with this old song with a new appreciation.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

-Charles Wesley

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

  1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/divine-right-of-kings ↩︎
a grassy cemetery full of rows of white, symmetrical gravestones

Should the Confederate Statue be Taken Down? – Recent News at Arlington Cemetery

by Elise DeYoung

This summer I had the honor of visiting our nation’s capital. Upon arrival, my friends and I went to Arlington National Cemetery to pay our respects to our country’s fallen soldiers. I was amazed by the scale of the cemetery and the countless rows of headstones that rest peacefully on the grounds. I saw many monuments erected to pay homage to brutal battles fought and to honor countless soldiers lost.

Recently, Arlington National Cemetery made headlines by tearing down a monument dedicated to fallen Confederate soldiers that has stood on its grounds for over a century.

Two Reasons the Statue is Being Taken Down

There are two primary reasons why they decided to tear down the statue: First, they believe it is wrong to honor soldiers who fought in defense of slavery. Second, they claim that the statue itself portrays a romanticized picture of slavery and belittles the wickedness of the institution.

Both arguments take issue with the imagined purpose and message of the monument so, it is necessary to examine the history of Arlington and the Confederate monument when considering these reasons.

First Argument

Arlington National Cemetery is categorized into many sections that represent specific wars, battles, and divisions. The soldiers who are buried in each section are there due to a connection that they had with that event or station.

Additionally, each section has a monument in place to honor and respect the men buried there. There is a monument for the Battle of the Bulge, one for the Korean War, and another for the Spanish-American War nurses. And until a few days ago, there was a monument for Section 16, which holds and honors the fallen soldiers of the Confederacy.

Originally, Arlington was a Union cemetery that did not allow for Confederate soldiers to be buried there. However, as it gained prominence and included soldiers from many wars and battles, there was a debate about whether Confederate soldiers should be allowed to be buried there. The final decision was made in 1900 and soon, Confederates were being buried at the Capital. Today, over 400 Confederate soldiers are buried at Arlington.  

In support of this decision, President McKinley famously said, “In the spirit of fraternity, we should share with you in the care of the graves of Confederate soldiers…. Sectional feeling no longer holds back the love we feel for each other. The old flag again waves over us in peace with new glories.”

Graves for Confederate Soldiers Do Not Glorify or Promote Racism

This was not out of lingering racism or traces of slavery support that these men were honored and allowed to rest at Arlington. In a stark contrast to that belief, the desire for unity and peace motivated the burial of Confederate soldiers.

If people are angry with the honoring of Confederate troops, it is foolish to believe that by removing the monument, their discontentment will be satisfied. There are still over 400 Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington. Should we dig up the graves out of protest? I argue that erasing the memory is tantamount to promoting racism and forgetting past errors.

Removing a monument stems from an ignorance of its historynot to mention that this is a petty position to hold. The men and women who saw the war and lived through the Reconstruction allowed the Confederate soldiers to rest peacefully next to their fellow Union Americans. So why should we be the ones who are outraged?

Second Argument

The second reason that Arlington tore down the monument is they believe the statue itself romanticizes slavery and downplays the evils of the institution.

While it is true that the monument does not portray slaves being whipped, this was never its purpose. It was to the memory and history of the Confederate soldiers, not to the slaves.

Arlington explains what the purpose of the monument is and why it has historically stood at the cemetery.

            “The Confederate Memorial offers an opportunity for visitors to reflect on the history and meanings of the Civil War, slavery, and the relationship between military service, citizenship, and race in America… In such ways, the history of Arlington National Cemetery allows us to better understand the complex history of the United States.”

Even Arlington recognizes that the monument was intended to invite its viewers to reflect on the American Civil War, slavery, and the men who fought in the war. It was not intended to expand division and hatred, but to encourage both sides to remember the past while we move into the future together as fellow Americans.

The Monument is Not a Beacon of White Supremacy

It is not a beacon of white supremacy. Rather it promotes our unity as Americans. It is not a symbol of slavery. It’s a symbol to celebrate our victory over it.

Arlington’s own website contradicts its decision to destroy the statue. According to them the monument “Allows us to better understand the complex history of the United States.”

It is essential that we, as Americans, are well informed of our nation’s complex (and often ugly) history. It’s imperative we know the good and the bad. We must know the bad so that we can be sure never to repeat our past mistakes.

Monuments and statues are a way of bringing history to life and honoring those who lived it. By tearing them down, we are tearing down our past. By vandalizing them, we are shaming and disgracing those who built this nation we now have the honor of living in.

As George Orwell in his work “1984″ said, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

It’s imperative we not allow our history to be distorted by those who call for the destruction of it. Arlington National Cemetery has joined with those who are insistent on forgetting, but we must not follow in their footsteps. We must stand up for history and our right to remember until “The old flag again waves over us in peace with new glories.”

Elise DeYoung is a PR & Communications Associate as well as a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!

the Argentine flag blowing in the wind on a sunny day

Liberty in Argentina

By Lauren Gideon

It has been about a month since the 2023 elections. As is typical of any election in my lifetime, there was much enthusiasm, effort, passion, and good intentions leading up to the big vote. The races with the most attention in my state were the school board races. You can read my thoughts about those races here. While this election cycle had notoriously low turnout, the results were still jolting to those who had invested so much and anticipated more favorable results. 

Temper Your Election Expectations

Elections always carry this sober-‘day-of-reckoning’-aura for those invested in the civic process. The time for head scratching commences. “Where was the red wave?” “Where is that ‘silent majority’?” “Do they not care enough to vote?” “Do they even exist?” “If they do exist, does it even matter if they don’t care enough to participate?” 

Unfortunately, I’m usually the person who brings the wet blanket to the party. Despite the narrative at the cheerleading events, I don’t anticipate any significant change in one election. I don’t believe in a silent majority or a “take back our schools” mantra. Why? Those are collectivist slogans employed by those who usually have one primary objective; “How do ‘we’ out-muscle our political opponents.” Since we know power takes numbers, we prefer empty collectivist battle cries to the substantiative truth claims that can be divisive and hurt our potential democratic control. Conservatives claim to be anti-Marxist, while many have also reduced the human experience to a binary power struggle. 

Both Parties Want the Same Thing

Recently, I was across the table from a successful activist. He pulled open his laptop and pointed to all the areas shaded red on this U.S. map. He enthusiastically told me how several locations had flipped colors but cautioned my enthusiasm because the margins were tight everywhere. “Do you know what this means?” he asked with optimism in his eyebrows. 

“Yes,” I replied. “It means that what these two colors offer is not that different from the other if people are so easily swayed back and forth.” His eyebrows fell. “You know, I hadn’t thought about it that way before.”

To overly simplify, both parties are out to dominate their political opponent through means of political power. The real question is, “What flavor would you like your tyranny?” Because we, Americans, leverage our tyranny through democratic processes, we have given it our blessing because of our nation’s misplaced loyalty to democracy ahead of the preservation of individual liberty. The tyranny of the majority is a cruel reality.

Did Argentina Beat Us to the Punch?

Simultaneously happening in the opposite hemisphere, Argentina has decided to elect a self-professing libertarian (or liberal in Argentine vernacular). Javier Milei, who takes office December 10, is the president-elect who ran a campaign on promises to reduce the scope and size of the Argentine government and “lead the country with a plan of free-market reforms.” 1 Milei says,  

“Liberalism is defending the right to life, liberty, and property. The institutions of liberalism support private property, labor mobility, the division of labor, social cooperation, and free markets with limited state intervention. It is serving your fellow neighbor by offering better goods and services. This is what we believe.” 2 

While published smear ads are a dime-a-dozen, Milei’s success does invoke a measure of curiosity. Why was this message successful? Is it merely because of Argentina’s economic crisis, or is there a degree of attractiveness to this different political tune? 

Now, it is too soon to draw conclusions about Milei himself. There are plenty of reasons to be cautious. However, if we take the human element out of the picture and assess the principles at play, is there a chance that a new (or, dare I say, “old”) theme is brewing? A theme where people are tired of choosing their flavor of political control. Could minds be opened to an alternative paradigm?  


Suggested Resource from Cato Institute: Is Javier Milei, Argentina’s Next President, A Libertarian?


Individual Liberty is the Unifier

I think a case could be made that there is a new opportunity for a bipartisan unifier—individual liberty. Could the idea of self-governance be attractive once again? Can both sides lay down their commitment to control and “fixing” their fellow human? Could we settle for the timeless virtues of justice, civility, and freedom of conscience? Could we promote a paradigm where citizens have the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail, the right to pursue their happiness, and the right to reap the consequences of their actions? That would be a tough bridge to cross for both political ideologies. 

Christian conservatives need to remember that while we do have an obligation to seek justice in this life (Micah 6:8) with historical and biblical principles to guide us, there is a higher court. In this court sits the Judge of Judges, who decides what injustices will be made right. In our misguided effort to bring heaven down to earth, we often take on responsibility that isn’t ours to bear. In doing so, we trespass into the life, liberty, and conscience of our neighbors—the very things our founding documents were established to protect. 

In the book of Daniel, we read about Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan king who ruled Babylon. After witnessing the miracle of the salvation of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Nebuchadnezzar makes a decree regarding the speech, the expression of the conscience, 

“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” (Daniel 3:28-29)

However, this chapter began with King Nebuchadnezzar mandating that all Babylonians worship the Idol he had set up, 

“You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.” (Daniel 3:4-5)

Which mandate was to honor the king’s appropriate sphere of governance? Answer: neither. 

In both scenarios, Nebuchadnezzar trespassed beyond his sphere of authority into the private property of the human soul. Juxtapose this paradigm with Joshua’s invitation,

And if it seems evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

Now, before a whistle-blower calls foul—no one in our present moment is blatantly mandating a religion or religious practices. Consider how political ideologies have gone beyond their appropriate spheres. Consider where boundaries of life, liberty, property, and conscience have been trespassed. No matter how well-intended, is justice being upheld? Consider that at the beginning of time, when all things were as they ought to be, humanity was given three things: breath in their lungs (life), a beautiful garden (property), and choice—choice so critical it could save their souls or send their souls to hell (liberty). 

Who afforded them these things? God himself. If we don’t afford the same to our fellow man, we have elevated our judgment above God’s and made ourselves god in His place. We have trespassed onto a throne that does not belong to mere mortals and have violated the first commandment, “Thou shalt not have any other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)

In the twenty-first century United States, are the parties, the politicians, and the people still loyal to the idea of Liberty and Justice for all? 

Lauren Gideon is the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

  1. Schotgues, Marcus. “Five Things to Know about Argentina’s New President.” The Epoch Times. November 21, 2023. https://www.theepochtimes.com/article/5-things-to-know-about-argentinas-new-president ↩︎
  2. Peterson, Michael. “Javier Milei: The Argentine Economist Who Could Become the First Libertarian President in Modern History.” Foundation for Economic Education. August 18, 2023. https://fee.org/articles/javier-milei-the-argentine-economist-who-could-become-the-first-libertarian-president-in-modern-history/ ↩︎