Apocalypse 2016

The leading candidates to replace Barack Obama think America is going to hell.


Fans of apocalyptic religious scenarios have plenty of rich material to work with in Seventh-day Adventism, a church whose most famous contemporary member is Republican presidential co-frontrunner Ben Carson. As formulated by former member Beth S. Carpenter, writing in Mashable, Adventism's tenets include "that the United States will follow a Biblical prophecy" in which Washington "will 'speak like a dragon' and persecute Adventists, aligning with the Catholic Church to force Sunday church attendance." The pope here is the "Antichrist," and his alliance with a fallen America will drive Carson's co-religionists to the hills. The results will be bloody, and spectacular.

I mention this not to malign Seventh-day Adventism—to the contrary, I'm gratified that yet another comparatively new and marginal church is being absorbed into the great American mainstream. If anything, the faith's doctrinal apocalypticism seems uniquely resonant with the howling dissatisfaction and rhetorical pessimism that so far has characterized the remarkable 2016 presidential campaign. Starting with Carson himself.

At the October 28 GOP debate in Boulder, Colorado, Carson asserted—in a response to a question about his opinion of same-sex marriage—that "P.C. culture" is "destroying this nation." In the August debate in Cleveland, the neurosurgeon stated that continuing the policies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will "destroy this country." In September, at the Reagan Library, Carson said "our children will have no future" unless we kill off the "global jihadists who actually want to destroy us."

There is a fate worse than mere destruction, of course: A country could become actively and murderously evil, a result of too many good men doing nothing in the face of corruption and hatred. America, Carson said in a March 2014 interview, is "very much like Nazi Germany."

Was that a one-off rhetorical slip of the tongue? No. "I know you're not supposed to say 'Nazi Germany,'" he continued, "but I don't care about political correctness. You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe. And it's because of the P.C. police, it's because of politicians, it's because of news. All of these things are combining to stifle people's conversation. The reason that is so horrible is because the only way you have harmony and reach a consensus is by talking. But if, in fact, people are afraid to talk, you never reach consensus. And instead you grow further and further apart. And that's exactly what's happening, creating a horrible schism that will destroy our nation."

In 2004, long before attempting a career in politics, Carson said that people who "accept the evolutionary theory" therefore "eliminate morality and the basis of ethical behavior." Since becoming a presidential contender, he has described Obamacare as "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery" and warned that America should never have a Muslim president because of the disputed Islamic notion of taqiyya, or lying about your religion when inside enemy territory.

The striking thing these statements have in common is a lack of confidence that America, its Constitution, and the entire Western liberal project are strong enough to endure the latest perceived challenge to their righteousness. As this month's cover boy, Darth Vader, famously said in the original Star Wars, "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

Not just disturbing, but disturbingly popular. At press time, Carson—whose very candidacy rests on his outsider, anti-P.C. approach and all the unvarnished hyperbole that comes with it—has not been lower than third place in any national GOP poll since mid-August. But even if he were to suddenly drop out, rampant apocalypticism would still dominate campaign 2016, on both sides of the aisle.

"Our country today faces a series of unprecedented crises," the Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders said at the October Democratic debate in Nevada. "[The] middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we're going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens United."

Well, at least we'll still be able to breathe, right? Think again: "If we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy," Sanders warned, "the planet that we're going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable."

And that's the kind of pessimism coming from the party that has controlled the White House for the last seven years. What about the loyal opposition? Hoo boy…

"Right now, we don't have a country, we don't have a border," longtime frontrunner Donald Trump said at the Reagan Library. "This country is in big trouble," he pronounced at the August debate. "We don't win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico both in trade and at the border. We lose to everybody."

"We're not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government that we are under now wants to do," Sen. Marco Rubio said at the Reagan Library. Sen. Ted Cruz echoed that sentiment the following month, accusing Democrats of peddling "a recipe to destroy a country."

And don't get them started on foreign policy. "We have a world that grows increasingly dangerous, and we are eviscerating our military spending and signing deals with Iran," Rubio said in September. "And…if this thing continues, we are going to be the first Americans to leave our children worse off than ourselves." Carly Fiorina sounds similar notes. "When America does not lead," she said in August, "the world is a dangerous and a tragic place."

Ben Carson is hardly alone in his invocation of Nazi Germany. Mike Huckabee in July said that with the Iran nuclear deal, President Obama "will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven." Cruz in March said the deal was "reminiscent of Munich in 1938" and warned that "there is one threat, and one threat only, on the face of the globe with the potential to once again annihilate 6 million Jews."

Some of this is just normal election-year opportunism. Politicians are forever warning that our generation really will be the first to leave a poorer world for our kids, centuries of evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Every sitting president from the other party is busy making the world a more "dangerous" place; every unsatisfactory geopolitical negotiation is invariably compared to Neville Chamberlain's sellout of Czechoslovakia.

But when such sentiments and views become the explicit selling points for utterly inexperienced candidates who between them garner 50 percent of public support for months on end, something genuinely new is at play. Fifteen years of lousy wars and lousy economic policies, coupled with pie-in-the-sky political rhetoric and pigs-in-the-mud crony capitalism, has produced a political alienation arguably more vast than anything we've seen since the 1970s.

In September, Gallup found that a record-high 60 percent of Americans agree with the statement that Democrats and Republicans "do such a poor job that a third major party is needed." In October, the polling organization found that the same percentage of Americans also agree that "the federal government has too much power," also a record high. As Bernie Sanders observed at the October Democratic debate, "I think that there is profound frustration all over this country with establishment politics."

How will that alienation translate into electoral results and public policies? The answer to that question may tell us whether this time it really will be the apocalypse.

NEXT: The Praying Dead

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  1. First. Fuck all of you.

    1. Ok, what's your Second point of order?

  2. Republican presidential co-frontrunner Ben Carson

    Your puny web offset printed newsletter has been blindsided by the unfolding future.

  3. The addition to socialism is greater than cocaine and nicotine combined.

  4. 'In September, Gallup found that a record-high 60 percent of Americans agree with the statement that Democrats and Republicans "do such a poor job that a third major party is needed."'

    Ah. If only some of those wanted the third party to be about liberty. But I assume it's probably a lot more like 30% Christian theocrats, 25% flaming socialists, and 5% libertarians.

  5. Come on, Matt.

    Yes, there is pandering to apocalyptic scenarios from politicians. You quote this, with derision, as an example:

    "Right now, we don't have a country, we don't have a border," longtime frontrunner Donald Trump said at the Reagan Library. "This country is in big trouble."

    The real problem is the pandering to those scenarios from the media. Limbaugh and Hannity have been saying those things for years. Here is an example of media pandering to an apocalypse, with this headline:

    'America Has Ceased to Exist': Investment Guru Doug Casey on the Coming Economic Meltdown"

    Sounds like Trump. Where did I get that? Right here at Reason. You run numerous articles on both Doug Casey and Peter Schiff, who also are apocalyptic. It's just the apocalypse YOU think is coming. You're hardly immune.

    1. "You, alright? I learned it by watching YOU!"

    2. Peter Schiff was right. He wasn't "pandering to apocalyptic scenarios," he was actually warning about something happening that actually ended up happening. He predicted what no one else did, and he was laughed at for what he said at the time.

      1. I'm confused; what do you think "ended up happening"?

  6. The Wikipedia article on this denomination attributes the idea of Pope as Antichrist to 7th Day sects that are at odds with mainstream 7th Day Adventist positions. Not that a presidential candidate who holds more mainstream but apocalyptic and anti-evolution beliefs deserves a vote of confidence, or even a vote, IMO.

    1. The Wikipedia article on this denomination attributes the idea of Pope as Antichrist

      Luther held the same opinion, Lutheranism just has toned it down a bit.

      Personally, I think calling the Pope the "anti-Christ" is giving him far too much significance; the Pope is really just a prideful and venal old man.

  7. I've been thinking about this, Matt. You know that Rand and Ron pretty much owe their political careers to fear of an apocalypse, that being a financial one.

    Now, do I think their fears are unfounded? Nor really. These are issues that must be dealt with. But that doesn't stop the end is nigh narrative from some. See Schiffs interview on 2010 when he said we already were in a depression, not even just going to be in one soon. That doesn't stop you from giving him credence.

    Sanders has plenty is science on his side that ignoring climate change now will be a catastrophe for future generations.

    Maybe it's the kernels of truth we should take from all of this. But yeah, still looking for the kernels from Trump.

    1. Trump has said some very true things.

      His big plan for ISIS is "bomb the ess out of them."

      Sounds dumb.

      Until you learn Obama left their oil tanker trucks alone for more than a year.

      Obama makes Trump look smart.

      Trump wants to ban Muslims. sounds dumb.

      Ooopps, Obama's team doesn't check visa applicant's social media history.

      So...now they are thinking of a moratorium on all financee visas, while they figure it out. (Trumps plan was the same.)

      Sure, its not just a ban on Muslims. Its even better: it bans everyone!

    2. I don't know where you got your info on climate change, But it's pure BS.

      Fun Climate Quotes- Opening remarks offered by Maurice Strong, who organized the first U.N. Earth Climate Summit (1992) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, revealed the real goal: "We may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrialized civilization to collapse. Isn't it our responsibility to bring this about?"

      Also speaking at the Rio conference, Deputy Assistant of State Richard Benedick, who then headed the policy divisions of the U.S. State Department said: "A global warming treaty [Kyoto] must be implemented even if there is no scientific evidence to back the [enhanced] greenhouse effect."

      In 1988, former Canadian Minister of the Environment Christine Stewart told editors and reporters of the Calgary Herald: "No matter if the science of global warming is all phony?climate change [provides] the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world."

      In 1996, former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev emphasized the importance of using climate alarmism to advance socialist Marxist objectives: "The threat of environmental crisis will be the international disaster key to unlock the New World Order."

      1. I have about ten more quotes like this, but Reason limits the word count.

  8. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do...... ?????? http://www.buzznews99.com

  9. It's not the end of the world if an establishment politician like Clinton or Rubio wins, but it will be the end of my faith in this country.

  10. No. "I know you're not supposed to say 'Nazi Germany,'" he continued, "but I don't care about political correctness

    Well, if Carson wants to discuss politics in those terms, it's worth pointing out that Carson himself is as much a little Hitler as the people he accuses of being such, because his premise is the same: if you just give me enough power, I'll fix your problems and save this country from doom.

  11. Next gen worse off? Why, you'd have to have a non-American 6th grade comprehesion of math to think that.


    "How will that alienation translate into electoral results and public policies?" asks Welch.

    "'Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats."

  12. "How will that alienation translate into electoral results and public policies? "

    The same way it always has - into the demand for a "strong leader" who will save us.

    "Maximum Leader" - Fidel Castro
    "Dear Leader" - Kim Jong Ill
    "Il Duce" (the Leader) - Benito Mussolini
    "Der Fuehrer" (the Leader) - is it really necessary to explain this one?

    The demands for "leadership" is the confession of inadequacy and a desire to be told how to live. It does not bode well for America.

  13. ^% percent of those polled think we need a third party, and that government has too much power? Who are these people and why don't they vote?

    1. 60%

  14. Welch, you are an idiot. You wring your hands over the issue of "inexperienced" candidates. Well, now we have a lot of really experienced ones. How's that working for us?

  15. Eh bien, je suis un bon poste watcher vous pouvez dire et je ne donne pas une seule raison de critiquer ou de donner une bonne critique ? un poste. Je lis des blogs de 5 derni?res ann?es et ce blog est vraiment bon cet ?crivain a les capacit?s pour faire avancer les choses i aimerais voir nouveau poste par vous Merci
    ????? ???

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