THE CHAOS OF THE GOP CONVENTION HAS ALREADY BEGUN
The Republican race remains on track for a contested convention this summer, during which pretty much anything could happen. But we won’t have to wait until July for our first peek at the chaos. The Republican National Committee is convening in Florida later this week for its spring meeting, an event that is already exposing the fault lines that are likely to crack wide open in Cleveland this summer.
The traditionally low-key planning summit—which runs from Wednesday through Friday—is shaping up to be the opening skirmish in the coming three-month long war over the Byzantine rulebook that could decide which candidate walks away with the GOP nomination. The fighting got off to an early start over the weekend when one high-profile RNC member went public with his complaints, but it will really rev up when the RNC rules committee convenes.
Important thing to know: The rules committee doesn’t actually get to write the rulebook for this summer’s convention—it can only recommend changes that a second rules panel will consider this summer before deciding on its own rules package, which will then still need to be approved on the convention floor. How ideal!
Let’s take this to FAQ format. Fire away.
So, there are two rules committees?
Yep. There is the Republican Party’s Standing Committee on Rules, and the Republican National Convention’s Committee on Rules. The standing committee is made up of 56 GOP officials—one from each of the 50 states and six U.S. territories—and spends the four years between each national convention examining and discussing changes to both primary and convention rules. The convention committee, meanwhile, consists of 112 delegates—one man and one woman from each of the states and territories—and operates while the convention is actually in session.
That sounds … confusing.
To say the least. But the basic flow chart looks something likes this:
- the standing committee draws up a suite of recommended rule changes,
- which the full Republican National Committee then approves,
- which the convention committee then considers in Cleveland when writing its rules,
- which then must be approved by a majority vote on the convention floor.
Until that final vote happens, its best to consider the GOP rulebook a rough draft.
OK, then what are this coming week’s big fights about?
There are two major issues that could come up—either in the formal meeting or on its sidelines—that could ultimately decide whether a white knight or some other dark horse is able to ride onto the convention floor in the event Donald Trump doesn’t have the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot. The first is over a specific rule, while the second has do with the way the convention will be run.
OK, explain in order please.
The first concerns Rule 40(b), which was written in 2012 by Mitt Romney’s team to deny Ron Paul supporters the chance to stage a protest in prime time. The rule requires a candidate to have the support of a majority of at least eight state or territory delegations in order to have his or her name formally placed into nomination. If the eight-state rule stands this year, Trump and Cruz would likely be the only two candidates that would reach that standard, effectively turning the initial ballots into a contest between the two.
Who wants to change the rule?
John Kasich’s campaign has been the most vocal about rewriting 40(b), which makes sense given he’s won only his home state this year and would need a miracle to reach the threshold. The Ohio governor, though, is likely to find support from those establishment-minded RNC members and GOP delegates who have yet to give up hope that someone other than Trump or Cruz will emerge as the nominee—regardless of whether they’re backing Kasich or dreaming of some other, TBD alternative.
So how could that rule change?
Any number of ways. Republicans desperate to stop Trump and Cruz want to tweak that rule to include however many candidates would create the greatest chance of a deadlock in the early rounds of voting, thereby setting the stage for someone else to snag the nomination—be that one of the less-successful 2016 rivals (like John Kasich or Rick Perry) or someone who never actually competed during the primary season at all (like Mitt Romney or Condoleezza Rice). Those backing Trump or Cruz, meanwhile, will do everything they can to keep the rule in place and protect their candidates from being slayed by a white knight on the convention floor.
So if you’re not formally nominated, delegates can’t vote for you?
Actually, no, that’s not true. Even if Trump and Cruz are the only two people who are formally nominated, delegates can still cast their votes for someone else. Those delegates bound to John Kasich or Marco Rubio, or instance, will still be required to vote for their assigned man for as many ballots as are required to by state rules. Unbound delegates, meanwhile, can cast their votes for whomever they like, regardless of the names on the official list.
Then why is the rule so important?
Having your name placed into nomination comes with a number of important perks—the biggest of which is the chance to address the convention before the first vote—that are seen as crucial to amassing the support needed to win the nomination. Without that platform, a candidate who isn’t nominated will have a difficult time consolidating the non-Trump, non-Cruz vote to emerge as a legitimate alternative. And, even if they are able to, they would need to overcome the perception that the GOP establishment was pulling levers behind the scenes to snatch the nomination away from the two men who won the most states and delegates during the primary season.
Take Kasich, for example: If the rule is changed to allow his name to be placed into nomination, he’ll instantly become the clear alternative for any establishment-minded unbound delegates. But if it is not, he’ll look no different than all the other candidates who won a few delegates in a primary season dominated by Trump and Cruz. (Heck, based only on delegates won, Rubio could conceivably argue that he’s more deserving of the nomination than Kasich.) Without a clear alternative nominated, any establishment-minded unbound delegates may feel they have no other choice but to vote for Cruz in a bid to block Trump.
OK, and the other fight?
This one is less about a specific rule and more about how the rules are enforced. Traditionally, the convention runs according to the rules of order used by the U.S. House of Representatives. That system affords a relatively large amount of power to the man or woman holding the gavel. But one RNC member is pushing a switch to Robert’s Rules of Order, which would shift much of the decision-making from the presiding officer—widely expected to be Paul Ryan this summer—to the 2,472 individual delegates, granting each of them the chance to wreak havoc on the process by raising objections and points of order. (The House rules, meanwhile, give the presiding officer a lot of leeway to deny such motions.)
Why would someone want to do that?
The man behind the proposal, Oregon GOP committeeman Solomon Yue, maintains that it is the only way to ensure that a contested convention unfolds out in the open. “We should operate in total political transparency,” he told Politico last week. While it’s unclear exactly how the switch to Robert’s rules would impact the proceedings, at least one member of the standing rules committee has suggested that it would make it more difficult for the GOP establishment to reopen the nominating process midconvention to offer the candidate of its choice—which they’d presumably want to do to give their preferred alternative the chance to address the convention and rally the establishment troops.
More generally, though, the switch would probably benefit Cruz, since he appears likely to arrive in Cleveland with the largest number of loyal delegates (even though many of his supporters will be required to vote for Trump on the first ballot or two as a result of their states’ primaries or caucuses). At the same time, Trump has made no secret that he’s willing to make life uncomfortable if he’s denied the nomination he thinks he’s earned, and this rule change would give his supporters plenty of opportunities to do just that on the convention floor.
And where does the RNC brass come down on the changes?
They’re not fans. “I don't think that it's a good idea for us next week—before the convention—to make serious rules changes or recommendations of changes right now,” Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus said during a Sunday appearance on CNN. “I think we are in a politically charged environment, I think it’s too complicated.”
But won’t things only get even more politically charged as we get closer to Cleveland?
Yep. (Contributor: By Josh Voorhees for Slate)
For prayer: Like the age-old real estate maxim stressing “location,” IFA’s response to all political party reports and debates is “Pray, pray, and pray.” If you haven’t yet signed up, consider registering for IFA’s pre-election intercessory initiative at GetOutThePrayer.com. Join thousands pledging to pray and then to vote following biblical principles that reveal God’s standards for elected officials.
“Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over [the people] to be rulers….” (Ex. 18:21)
DANGER AHEAD FOR WORLD ECONOMY
The world economy is nearing what international policymakers fear could be a dangerous turning point, as populist uprisings in the United States and Europe threaten to unravel decades-old alliances that have fostered free trade and deepened economic ties.
The tension has reached boiling point in Britain, which in two months will vote on whether to leave the European Union. The International Monetary Fund, which wrapped up its annual meetings this weekend in Washington, warned that a so-called Brexit is a “real possibility,” one that could usher in a new era of uncertainty and undermine the already fragile global recovery.
But the unrest is not limited to the United Kingdom. Anti-EU parties are gaining steam across the continent, particularly in France and Germany, while U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are railing against America’s signature trade deals.
Fueling the furor are blue-collar workers on both sides of the Atlantic who feel left behind by international competition. Their frustration has given rise to political movements condemning the principles of globalization -- free trade and open borders -- that have been heralded as pathways to prosperity since the end of World War II.
“Trying to go back in time, trying to safeguard the achievements of the past will backfire. Because we cannot do that,” said Hans Timmer, the World Bank’s chief economist for Europe and Central Asia. “If countries step away from globalization, we will see a very negative economic backlash.”
At a minimum, disentangling long-standing economic relationships is almost certain to be messy: Ending Britain’s 43-year membership in the EU would trigger renegotiation of trade, financial and social welfare agreements with the rest of Europe. The mere prospect of Brexit sent the pound plunging to lowest levels in seven years. Recent polls show residents roughly split over the decision, with a sizeable faction still undecided.
Financial markets are bracing for a wild ride. Investors are betting London’s major stock index could swing by as much as 6.5 percent around the Brexit vote on June 23, according to an analysis by Macro Risk Advisors. This month, the Bank of England warned that departure could lead to another drop in the pound, cause credit to contract, and send interest rates higher for consumers and businesses.
The volatility alone could be enough to undercut current economic growth, though the true impact of a vote to leave would not be clear for years as Britain and the EU negotiated the terms of departure. A recent analysis by think tank Open Europe found that in a worst-case scenario, a bumpy exit could lower UK growth by 2.2 percentage points in 2030, although it said a well-executed departure could boost growth in the long-run.
The report also does not factor in the potential for Brexit to invigorate nationalist movements across Europe and the economic ripple effects. In France, the far-right National Front party has vowed to hold a referendum on EU membership if it comes to power in the nation’s presidential elections next year. An offshoot group in Germany has become the country’s third-largest party.
“What we’re basically facing is a very protracted period of uncertainty in which we don’t know what the world looks like,” said Colin Ellis, an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service.
The IMF this month lowered its outlook for the global economy this year from 3.4 to 3.2 percent -- the fourth time it has been downgraded -- and even that may be too optimistic. Officials said the risks to its forecasts are growing, and pointed to rising nationalist sentiment among them.
“There is a risk that middle class families and the poor actually remain behind, which would embolden the voices of protectionism and fragmentation,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.
Economists have long argued that the benefits of globalization far outweigh the costs to workers who might be displaced by those half a world away. The IMF, along with the World Bank, are products of the post-war consensus that deeper economic integration can not only help end political strife, but also lead to mutual growth.
In many ways, it has worked. Economists often point to low prices on clothing and computers as evidence: Consumers in developed countries enjoy cheap products, while workers in emerging markets benefit from employment. The World Bank estimates that the number of people living in extreme poverty fell below 10 percent of the world population last year, down from more than a third in 1990.
The bank has set a goal of ending extreme poverty -- defined as living on less than $1.90 a day -- by 2030, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim warned that shifting political sentiment could endanger that mission.
“This movement toward isolationism and the movement away from trade is very bad for poor people,” Kim said last week in Washington.
But many supporters of the nationalist movements in Europe and in the U.S. are older blue-collar workers who feel they have been shoved to the bottom of the economic pecking order. Manufacturing employment in the UK has plunged by about a third since 2000, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, while U.S. jobs have fallen by about 20 percent.
David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, analyzed the job market in American towns where businesses competed with Chinese imports. He found that unemployment remained high for at least a decade and workers suffered from lower income throughout their lives.
“There’s a sense that it hasn’t delivered,” IMF chief economist Maury Obstfeld said. He then added, “The problem is that trade creates winners and losers. And we haven’t figured out how to adequately take care of the losers.” (Contributor: By Ylan Q. Mui for The Washington Post - Ylan Q. Mui is a financial reporter at The Washington Post covering the Federal Reserve and the economy.)
International economies teeter, monetary systems spin out of control, and Planet Earth shakes from multiple devastating earthquakes (seven in six days from 6.9 to 7.8, Richter). Meanwhile, China flexes its “gold muscles” against U.S. dollars. But intercessors, take heart! God is always in full control. He guides His plans and purposes. Pray that perilous times will lead many to seek and find the Lord.
“The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; let the earth be moved! The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name—
He is holy.” (Ps. 99:1-3)
NORTH KOREA COULD BE PREPARING FOR FIFTH NUCLEAR TEST
North Korea appears to be preparing to conduct another nuclear test, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday, citing signs of increased movement near the North’s nuclear test site.
With a much-hyped congress of the communist Workers’ Party to be held early next month, Kim Jong Un appears to be trying to burnish his credentials, and analysts say a fifth nuclear test would be a sure way to do that.
“Recently, signs of preparations for a fifth nuclear test have been detected,” Park said during a meeting with her aides Monday. “We are in a situation in which we cannot predict what provocations North Korea might conduct to break away from isolation and to consolidate the regime.”
This came after the South Korean Defense Ministry said that North Korea’s next underground nuclear test may be of a miniaturized warhead, rather than of the standard atomic devices it is thought to have detonated previously.
“Given the latest developments, North Korea could carry out an underground nuclear warhead test, and we are keeping close tabs on it,” Moon Sang-gyun, a Defense Ministry spokesman, told reporters in Seoul on Monday.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported last month that Kim ordered “a nuclear warhead explosion test and a test-fire of several kinds of ballistic rockets able to carry nuclear warheads” to be carried out “in a short time.”
North Korea claims that it has mastered the technology to make nuclear weapons small and light enough to fit on a missile, but there has been no proof. But an increasing number of military top brass and private-sector analysts think that North Korea either will have made or will be on the brink of making such a technological advance soon.
South Korean officials warned Sunday that they had detected a noticeable increase in vehicles and people moving about the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, particularly near its north portal tunnel.
Analysts at 38 North, a website devoted to watching and analyzing North Korea, said that they also saw, in satellite imagery, increased movement around the north portal but that there was little evidence that Pyongyang was planning an imminent nuclear test.
“Nevertheless, that possibility can not be entirely ruled out since the North may be able to conduct a nuclear test on short notice with few indications that it intends to do so,” Jack Liu, a military analyst, wrote in a note on the site.
A fifth nuclear test would create another conundrum for the international community. Kim’s regime has proved impervious to coordinated efforts to change his calculus when it comes to the country’s nuclear program.
Last month, the U.N. Security Council passed the toughest sanctions yet against North Korea as punishment for its January nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch in February.
Yet Kim has remained defiant, issuing an almost daily barrage of threats and continuing to launch rockets and short-range missiles. An attempt to launch a previously untested intermediate-range ballistic missile last week was deemed to have failed.
At a forum in Seoul, Lim Sung-nam, South Korea’s vice foreign minister, said that more pressure and punishment against North Korea is needed.
“We can no longer afford to be pushed around by North Korea’s deceit and intimidation,” Lim said. “The leadership in Pyongyang must be pressed much harder until it changes its fundamental calculation regarding the value of its nuclear arsenal and delivery capabilities.”
In addition to supporting the tough U.N. resolutions, Park’s government has brought in unprecedented bilateral sanctions against North Korea, closing an inter-Korean industrial park and cutting off all humanitarian aid except to babies and pregnant women. (Contributor: By Anna Fifield for The Washington Post - Anna Fifield is The Post’s bureau chief in Tokyo, focusing on Japan and the Koreas. She previously reported for the Financial Times from Washington DC, Seoul, Sydney, London and from across the Middle East.)
IFA reports and prays into international events as they pertain to our own nation, the global Christian community, and/or Israel’s well-being. As for N. Korea’s military news, we urge intercessors to pray for restraint on all sides, as well as for our military leaders. Non-partisan watchdog agencies analyze and report with concern on diminishing American military strength. Pray as you are led.
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’…Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Ps. 2:2-3, 10-11)
THE SAUDIS CHANNEL THE MAFIA
The mafia, in its heyday, ran lucrative protection rackets. Pay them and your business would be kept safe from “unforeseen” threats. Don’t pay them and your business might go up in smoke with you inside.
Today, things are more sophisticated.
The New York Times reports that Saudi Arabia, playing the role of mafia extortionist, has threatened to “sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”
The Saudis are estimated to hold about $750 billion in Treasury securities and other assets in the United States and the concern is that they might sell them before American courts could impose a freeze. The Obama administration opposes the bill, saying it could potentially open the kingdom to lawsuits from relatives of the dead and injured. So?
Why do the Saudis oppose this bill, which enjoys bipartisan support? Could it be because, as many believe, they helped facilitate the greatest mass murder in American history? Fifteen of the 19 men involved in the terrorist plot were Saudi citizens, and that country promotes the most extreme form of Islam known as Wahhabism.
Adding to the suspicion that there is more to be learned about Saudi Arabia’s role are 28 pages contained in the 9/11 Commission’s report censored by the Bush administration for “national security reasons.” Need more? According to government documents obtained by Judicial Watch, “160 subjects of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including but not limited to members of the House of Saud and/or members of the bin Laden family fled the U.S. (on chartered planes when all other aircraft were grounded) between Sept. 11, 2001 and September 15, 2001.”
In an April 10 appearance on the CBS program “60 Minutes,” former Florida Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time the report was being written, said: “I think it is implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn’t speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many of whom didn’t have a high school education, could’ve carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States.”
Mr. Graham thinks the hijackers received active support and guidance from rich Saudis, Saudi charities and top members of the Saudi government.
This is a matter that is easily resolved by releasing the 28 pages. The relatives of the dead have a right to know who funded the terrorist attack that killed their loved ones. Justice demands it and if compensation is awarded, the Saudis, who have made billions from oil sales to the West, can afford it.
The intent of the Senate bill is to clarify the immunity normally given to foreign governments. It says such immunity should not apply when nations are found culpable of committing terrorist attacks that kill Americans on U.S. soil.
The Obama administration claims that weakening the immunity law could put U.S. corporations, the American government and its citizens at legal risk because other nations might retaliate with similar legislation. The difference is that U.S. citizens are not hijacking planes and committing mass murder in other countries. The bill’s sponsors, notes The New York Times, “have said that the legislation is purposely drawn very narrowly — involving only attacks on American soil — to reduce the prospect that other nations might try to fight back.”
For too long Republican and Democratic administrations have ignored the actions and teachings of Saudi Arabia, including textbooks used in Islamic schools that denigrate Jews and other “infidels” and the building of mosques that some imams are using to spread hate and recruit suicide bombers.
This bipartisan bill should pass, and if the president vetoes it, he should explain his reason to the families of the dead. (Contributor: By Cal Thomas for The Washington Times - Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist. His latest book is “What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America” (Zondervan, 2014).)
The evidence appears to contain the proverbial “smoking gun” implicating the Saudi Kingdom and perhaps the ruling family. Pray that God will allow undeniable truth to emerge, and if reparations are owed to the victims’ families dating back to 9/11/2001, so be it. Pray for members of Congress to step up with courage to take the lid off this nearly 15-year mystery to discover if a cover-up has occurred.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
A BUS EXPLODED IN JERUSALEM ON MONDAY, RAISING FEARS OF SUICIDE ATTACKS
A bus exploded in Jerusalem on Monday, wounding at least 21 people in what police said was a "terror attack," raising fears of a return to the Palestinian suicide bombings that ravaged Israeli cities a decade ago.
"There is no doubt that this was a terror attack," Jerusalem police commissioner Yoram Halevy said. He said it was too early to know the identity of the attacker or if it was a suicide bombing.
"We are investigating where the explosive device came from, who planted it, how it got on the bus. All this is in the initial stages of investigation," he said.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 21 people were wounded in the attack, two seriously, seven moderately and the rest lightly. Another bus and a car nearby were also damaged by the explosion.
It was not clear how many people were on the bus at the time it exploded. Police said the blast was caused by an explosive device detonated at the back of the bus.
Bus driver Moshe Levy told reporters he checked his bus for bombs twice before he started his journey. He said he was in a traffic jam when "suddenly there was an explosion in the back, I immediately understood it was a terror attack, I opened the doors of the bus so people could escape and told them to get out."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed retaliation. "We will locate those who prepared this explosive device. We will reach the dispatchers. We will also reach those behind them. We will settle the score with these terrorists."
The blast came as jittery Israelis prepared for the Passover holiday amid a seven-month wave of Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings, shootings and attacks where cars were used as weapons against civilians and security forces.
In that time, Palestinian attackers killed 28 Israelis and two Americans. At least 189 Palestinians have been killed. Israel says most of the Palestinians killed were attackers, with the rest killed in clashes with security forces.
For some, the bombing was reminiscent of attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad last decade when the Palestinian groups sent suicide bombers to detonate their explosives in buses and cafes.
Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, issued a statement praising the bus bombing but did not take responsibility for it. Some mosques in Gaza also welcomed the attack with messages of praise broadcast from loudspeakers.
A spokesman for Hamas in Qatar, Husam Badran, said "This attack affirms to everyone one that our people will not abandon the resistance path."
The current round of bloodshed was triggered in September by unrest at a major Jerusalem shrine revered by both Muslims and Jews, and quickly spread to Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza border.
Israel says the violence is fueled by a campaign of Palestinian incitement compounded on social media sites that glorify and encourage attacks. Palestinians say the violence is due to a lack of hope for gaining independence after years of failed peace efforts. (Contributor: By Ian Deitch for The Associated Press and US News Report - Associated Press writers Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, and Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank contributed to this report.)
Even with this dreadful bombing, let us give thanks for God’s mercy in preventing worse carnage. But Israel’s troubles are not over, as Hamas and others are relentlessly committed to its destruction. Western Christians show God’s love through our prayers and friendship. It sounds “old,” but our greatest service is to continue to pray for peace and for Israel’s recognition of Jesus as Messiah.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.’” (Ps. 122:6-7)
MARRIAGE YES, JUST NOT YET?
Contrary to popular belief, marriage isn’t dead. It’s not even dying.
The institution is probably more respected and admired than ever before — just not in a way that encourages millennials to partake in it.
You can see this in national survey data, recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about Americans’ views of various family arrangements.
At first glance the report suggests that Americans may indeed be less devoted to the sacrosanctity of marriage — or at least that we’ve become more tolerant of once-stigmatized non-marital sexual behaviors . In 2002, for example, slightly more than 6 in 10 Americans said they thought it was okay for a young couple to live together without being married. By 2011-2013, the period of the most recent survey, the share had jumped to more than 7 in 10.
Similarly, the report finds that Americans have gotten more accepting of women who bear and raise children out of wedlock, of unmarried 18-year-old couples who decide to have sex and of same-sex couples who adopt children.
On these and other familial and procreative arrangements, Americans have become measurably more liberal. But on one crucial measure, they have become much more conservative.
That measure is divorce.
Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement that “Divorce is usually the best solution when a couple can’t seem to work out their marriage problems.” In 2002, about half of Americans disagreed. Within a decade, the share had risen to more than 60 percent. In the most recent data, younger Americans — a cohort with the lowest marriage rates on record, mind you — were especially likely to perceive divorce as an unacceptable response to marital strain.
How is it possible that Americans are simultaneously getting more traditional about marital commitment and less traditional about non-marital relations? How did we become more judgmental of divorce and less judgmental of people who “live in sin” or have children out of wedlock?
The answer lies in our evolving views of marriage itself.
Earlier generations saw marriage as a sort of foundational milestone, laid relatively early in life, that would help couples go on to achieve familial and financial stability. Today, it is seen more as a crowning achievement, appropriate and available only after lots of other boxes are ticked off first. And this brass ring ought to be indestructible by the time it graces your left hand.
Marriage has, in other words, gone from being a cornerstone achievement to a capstone one.
Marriage rates may have plummeted in recent decades, but the vast majority of never-married millennials still say they aspire to get hitched someday. They just want to get their ducks in a row first — and my, are those ducks multiplying. A survey from last fall found that young Americans believe they should wait to marry until they have a stable job, have reduced their debt levels or accumulated savings, have a college degree, have successfully cohabitated with their future spouse, have had previous serious relationships and even own their home.
We millennials still want our happily-ever-afters, but with an emphasis on the after.
Meanwhile, many of those intermediate milestones we now see as connubial preconditions have moved further out of reach. Mounting student loan debt, falling youth homeownership rates and stagnant or declining job opportunities are disqualifying many young Americans from this apparently elite institution, or at least turning them into less eligible bachelors and bachelorettes.
Wedlock is a luxury good that young Americans want, but view themselves — and just as important, their potential spouses — as too poor or otherwise unprepared to buy.
It is the layering of these two concurrent forces — the idealization of marriage, plus the declining marriageability (real or perceived) of so many of its would-be participants — that has ground down marriage rates, especially for lower-skilled Americans. And so young people put off marriage, though not necessarily the other milestones that used to almost exclusively follow marriage (such as childbearing).
It’s unclear why marriage has been elevated to such a high pedestal. Perhaps it’s the traumatic legacy of earlier decades of high divorce rates, which make today’s young people fear creating their own broken homes.
Or perhaps it’s the increasing association of marriage with wealthier, better-educated people. Elites have also adopted the capstone view of marriage and actually found it useful for forming more stable, successful, enduring unions.
So keep this in mind if you ever feel the temptation to urge some broke young couple to hurry up and get hitched already: Chances are they’re dragging their feet not because they don’t take marriage seriously but because they do. (Contributor: By Catherine Rampell for The Washington Post)
Intercessors, please note: While this article is essentially a secular analysis of recent survey data on marriage and divorce, the same issues and statistics are being dealt with among evangelical churches and their young adult “millennials” (see WORLD magazine, April 16). Pray for the young professionals with Christian roots. Many are influenced by secular standards rather than God’s Word.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:2)