The World and Everything in It — December 17, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

People are fleeing blue states in record numbers. That’ll affect representation in Congress big time.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Also: Brexit. The drama drags on, but the end is in sight.

Plus a Mississippi church that shows the Christmas story to families driving by.

And commentator Cal Thomas on who’d be a suitable candidate for Republicans in 2024.

REICHARD: It’s Thursday, December 17th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Good morning!

REICHARD: Now news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: FDA panel reviews Moderna emergency use application » The Moderna coronavirus vaccine could take another critical step toward approval today. 

A group of FDA advisors will meet for the second time in eight days as they review Moderna’s application. 

Paul Duprex is director of vaccine research at the University of Pittsburgh. He told the Associated Press…

DUPREX: Just like the Pfizer vaccine, which is a messenger RNA vaccine, the Moderna vaccine works equivalently and is being sent forward for emergency use authorization. 

FDA scientists released documents ahead of today’s meeting finding Moderna’s vaccine to be safe and effective. Like Pfizer’s vaccine, trials have shown it to be about 95 percent effective. 

Developing countries face longer road out of pandemic » With the United States and other Western countries now rolling out vaccines, the path out of the pandemic seems clear for those wealthy nations.  But for poorer countries, the road will be far longer and rougher. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The World Health Organization created an ambitious program known as COVAX. It aims to ensure the entire world has access to COVID-19 vaccines. But so far, it has secured only a fraction of the 2 billion doses it hopes to buy over the next year and it’s running low on cash. 

Developed countries, some of which helped fund the research with taxpayer money, are buying up shots. Meanwhile, some poorer countries that signed up to the COVAX initiative are looking for alternatives because of fears it won’t deliver.

The head of global health at the World Economic Forum, Arnaud Bernaert, said “it’s simple math.” Drugmakers will likely make about 12 billion doses of vaccines next year. And wealthy nations have already reserved nine billion of those doses.  

That means the light at the end of the tunnel is still barely visible in developing countries. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Top lawmakers say coronavirus relief bill is close » Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says lawmakers are making progress toward a compromise on a coronavirus relief bill. 

MCCONNELL: Mr. President, the Democratic leader and I worked into the evening, alongside the speaker of the House and the House Republican leader. We made major headway toward hammering out a targeted pandemic relief package.

McConnell speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday. 

And Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed. 

SCHUMER: We are close to an agreement. It’s not a done deal yet, but we are very close. 

A bipartisan group of senators released text this week of a $908 billion proposal. 

Republicans continue to press for liability protection for businesses while Democrats want more aid for state and local governments.

McConnell said the two sides agreed they will not break for Christmas until they come together on a bill.

Senate panel probes reported election problems » Meantime, a Senate committee on Wednesday looked into reported voting irregularities in last month’s election.

Ron Johnson is the Republican chairman of the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs panel. He said he believes Joe Biden is the legitimate winner but Congress must address voter concerns so the public can feel confident in the next election.

JOHNSON: It’s legitimate congressional oversight that is necessary when we have such a large percentage of the American population in both the 2016 and 2020 elections not accepting the results as legitimate. That’s a problem. We need to fix that.

Among the witnesses, Christopher Krebs, the former head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. 

KREBS: On November 12, 2020, government and industry executives from the election security community issued a joint statement reflecting a consensus perspective that the 2020 election was the most secure in U.S. history.

President Trump fired Krebs one month ago today after he contradicted the president’s claims about widespread voter fraud. 

On Wednesday, Krebs again told lawmakers that the election went smoothly. 

Lawmakers bickered heatedly at times. Republicans said handling of the election was sloppy in many states and districts. 

Democrats disagreed and said the hearing only elevated groundless claims of voter fraud.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: the blue state exodus changing America’s political landscape.

Plus, Cal Thomas offers some advice to the GOP for the next presidential election.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Thursday, December 17th, 2020. This is WORLD Radio and we’re so happy you’ve joined us today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. First up: a blue state exodus.

California is the country’s most populous state and largest economy. But an increasing number of Californians are leaving. That includes prominent business people like Elon Musk who just moved to Austin, Texas, and rapper Kanye West who recently moved his apparel company to Cody, Wyoming.

REICHARD: Population losses mean for the first time in its state history, California is likely to lose a congressional seat in next year’s redistricting. And the Golden State isn’t alone. Demographers also expect New York, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Ohio, Alabama, and West Virginia to lose at least one seat in the House each. 

WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports now on what’s driving this reshuffling of population.

ALAN: We live in Cary, Illinois. So we’re kind of about 40 miles from downtown, northwest of Chicago.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Bethany and Alan Holmes have always called Illinois home. 

ALAN: For myself? 43 years. 

BETHANY: Yep, my whole life. 43 years.

The Holmes’s extended family live in the area. They’ve had a great church community. Their four children have had a good homeschool group. 

But this year, strict COVID-19 lockdowns in the state got them thinking about their future. 

Their church closed for several months and a lot of people never came back. Alan got a new job that allows him to work from home. They also got frustrated with the state’s politics. And then they saw other friends and family moving away. 

BETHANY: And it started us to think, Well, what about us? What could we do?

ALAN: I actually created a spreadsheet over the summer. Basically, weighing various pros and cons of, you know, pretty much states around the country.

After a lot of thought and prayer, the Holmes settled on moving to neighboring Indiana. They found a church they’re excited to join. They like the state’s homeschool-friendly culture. And the lower cost of living didn’t hurt either. 

ALAN: We’re getting way more house, more land, for way less, in terms of taxes. It was a no brainer, really. 

Across the country, people living in mostly Democratic-controlled states are looking to relocate at higher rates. 

Over the last decade, 160,000 Illinois residents—just over 1 percent of its population—have packed up moving vans for the trip across state lines.

California’s population is still growing. But at a much slower pace than before. The state logged its lowest growth rates in a century in 2018 and 2019.

And that population boom could continue to bust.

A recent University of California Berkeley survey found that more than half of registered voters in California have thought about leaving the state. Their top reasons? High taxes, exorbitant housing costs, and the state’s political culture.

Merrill Matthews is a scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas. He says people are jumping blue state ships because they want a better quality of life. 

MATTHEWS: They’re tired of the high tax rates, the restrictions and so forth that those states impose and… the high cost of living, and they want to move to someplace where it’s affordable, so they come.

States that are attracting new residents include North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Idaho, and Texas. Traditionally, conservative states. 

With the exception of Idaho, these states are expected to gain at least one congressional seat next year. Census data analysts project Texas will gain as many as three seats and Florida will pick up two.

Merrill Matthews says business-friendly policies are attracting companies to cities like Phoenix, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Austin. Those companies in turn create jobs that bring people to the state. 

MATTHEWS: Austin has become a tech hub, and is becoming sort of a small Silicon Valley for those companies that want to not have quite the rent restrictions, regulations, and taxes that you might see in California.

There are a couple of exceptions to this blue to red migration pattern. Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, all solidly Democratic states, have also seen impressive growth over the past decade. But that growth also slowed down significantly in the last two years. 

These blue state population declines preceded COVID-19. But the pandemic and lockdowns are accelerating migration—especially from cities. 

Michael Hendrix is the director of state and local policy at the Manhattan Institute. He’s been following population shifts in urban centers during the pandemic. 

He says with many city amenities shut down, more people don’t want to pay the price to live in them. 

HENDRIX: The pandemic, and our reaction to the pandemic, through things like remote work, have, in some ways severed our economic and physical ties to these really expensive major cities. 

U.S. Postal Service data shows at least 300,000 people have left the Big Apple this year. 

HENDRIX: In the case of New York City, much of the outmigration has been to the suburbs of New York City, places like northern New Jersey, Nassau County, other places in Long Island. They’re going to places like Miami, Florida, primarily.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, many tech and social media companies have kept their offices closed. That means more employees are going remote and leaving. The city’s rent prices have fallen for the first time in years. 

As these migration patterns continue, many political pundits wonder whether the blue state arrivals will turn red states purple and eventually blue. 

Both Merrill Matthews and Michael Hendrix say it’s too soon to tell. People leaving California or New York aren’t automatically Democratic voters. 

HENDRIX: I would argue that it’s not so clear that out migration from blue states to red states will necessarily turn those red states blue. Part of the reason why they’re leaving is partly a response to the blue state policies that are keeping those states so expensive, and so practically unlivable, particularly for families. And I think that that is telling.

That’s true for Bethany and Alan Holmes. They aren’t leaving Illinois for purely political reasons. But they are excited for a different climate in Indiana.

ALAN: We’ve tried for so long, I think to try and you know, vote our conscience and trying to vote people in that will represent us and we’re just not seeing it. So politically speaking, I guess we’re hoping that we’re gonna see something better than that by leaving what we’ve kind of been in the whole time.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Brexit.

I bet you thought that was settled, right? Wrong. Great Britain is still negotiating its exit from the European Union. Delegations had nine months to reach a deal on a few sticking points. That seems like a lot of time. But it wasn’t quite enough. Or it might not be enough. They still have a few weeks until the January 1st deadline.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Well, breaking up is hard to do, after all. Especially when you have to resolve tricky issues like border crossings and trade deals!

Returning to the program to help us understand what’s going on across the pond is Glen Duerr. He’s a professor at Cedarville University, and his research focuses on nationalism and secession. Welcome back, professor!

GLEN DUERR: Thank you for having me.

REICHARD: The United Kingdom and the European Union did have a lot of issues to work out here. And my understanding is they’ve solved all but two points of disagreement: fair-competition rules and fishing rights. What are the hangups there?

DUERR: Yeah, to go to the first one, in terms of just a level playing field, a comprehensive solution for everyone, it does pertain to fair environmental, labor, and social issues across both the UK and the EU. The EU is worried that if the UK gets out, which it has with Brexit, that it can gain an advantage by not living up to environmental, labor, or social standards and therefore have an unfavorable advantage with the EU. So, that’s one that both sides are really trying to make an improvement upon.

So, fishing is the second big issue. And while it might not seem like a lot because it pertains to 0.1 percent of the economy and 0.1 percent of the jobs in the United Kingdom, some of the most fervent leavers in the Brexit referendum vote of June of 2016 were from smaller fishing communities. And they’ve already called out Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whom they backed very heavily in the December 2019 general election, and basically said we’re being left again to suffer at the hands of Europe. And so that one has proven to be a very, very sticky issues because a number of EU countries—Spain notably, but Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France—all have major constituencies with fishing as well. And neither side really wants to give up a whole lot. So it’s become the second stumbling block.

REICHARD: And if they can’t reach a compromise on these two issues, the U.K. is faced with the dreaded “no-deal Brexit.” What does that mean, practically speaking? And do you think it would really be as some analysts fear?

DUERR: I don’t. I think ultimately what will happen—and this is legally the course—is it will revert back to World Trade Organization rules that under the GATT, which was the predecessor of the WTO going back to the 1940s, it has really stabilized tariffs and non-tariff barriers across different trading countries. And so there will likely be tariffs involved, but on all non-agriculture goods it’s as low as 2.8 percent. So not a massive change. But it could have a big impact on some industries. The automotive industry, for example, can go up to 10 percent. The dairy industry even over 35 percent. So, in certain areas we could certainly see massive price changes. Of course, the EU could also play hardball as well, especially when it comes to traveling. It’s probably loathe to do so because there are so many British ex-patriots in Spain and Portugal that live and spend a massive amount of their money in the local economy. So, I think there’s a good likelihood that the EU will go back to its tried and true system of compromise. The whole thing is built on compromise and it looks like this one will go that way. But it still could be a no-deal Brexit. And that would still constitute a set of challenges.

REICHARD: I’ve read reports of long lines of trucks—lorries, the Brits call them—in Dover in England and Calais in France, the port cities. What’s going on there?

DUERR: Yeah, I grew up about 45 minutes from Dover and Folkestone, which are the nearest arteries to the European Union, especially Calais and Boulogne—and there have been long issues with agricultural goods. So, think meat, think eggs, cheese, dairy, etcetera across the board there. And so there have been some stoppages and some long waits just because some elements need to be checked. A lot is still moving through pretty freely, but there will be some localized interruptions going forward.

REICHARD: By the time Joe Biden takes office, the Brexit drama will be over, one way or another! What effect do you think these two events- Biden and Brexit- might have on U.S. relations with the U.K. and the rest of Europe?

DUERR: Yeah, it’s going to be fascinating because the UK is the United States’ eighth largest trading partner. So, not as big as China or Canada, but still a major importer, exporter, and trading partner. But given that UK will be out of the European Union, they now have the latitude to sign bilateral trade agreements with other countries and there’s one, for example, that’s moving very quickly with New Zealand. And the United States could follow up on that. So, while it was Trump and Johnson—and even though they had some challenges in the relationship—it looked like things were moving forward very quickly. A Biden administration is a little different. It could play hardball in more ways than would be expected under President Trump. And certainly when President Obama was in office, he was very, very careful to draw too many comparisons with joint history with the United Kingdom, arguing that the United States has changed and it is now, you know, looks very, very different. And so there could certainly be some hiccups with a different administration.

REICHARD: Glen Duerr is a political science professor at Cedarville University, a Christian college in Cedarville, Ohio. Thanks so much for joining us today!

DUERR: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: This one’ll warm your heart. An early Christmas. 

This story began two years ago. Brian Zach is a police lieutenant who found little 2-year-old Kaila during a welfare check. Zach said she had marks and injuries that were clearly caused by abuse. 

He spoke to KNXV news as little Kaila played on his lap.

ZACH: So I took care of her, took her back to the station and we watched Wreck It Ralph. (Kaila laughs)

Zach, already a father of two, said Kaila immediately stole his heart.

ZACH: When I came home that night, I told my wife about this little adorable girl that we got to meet, and I wanted to just bring her home.

Child Protective Services needed a temporary home for her.  Zach and his wife happily said yes. 

Two years later, the couple got news they’ve been waiting for ever since—their adoption was approved. 

And the now 4-year-old Kaila says she couldn’t be happier.

KAILA: I love him. I love him so much.

A merry Christmas indeed!

REICHARD: Mmm-hmmm.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Thursday, December 17th. 

Thanks for listening to The World and Everything in It. Good morning. I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next: Bringing the Christmas story to life.

A small church in Mississippi has taken on a big project each Christmas season, going on 18 years now. Church members work together to depict live scenes that tell the story of Jesus’ birth.

BASHAM: Because visitors drive by the scenes in their cars, it’s one Christmas event COVID won’t cancel this year.

WORLD Senior Correspondent Kim Henderson brings us the story.

KIM HENDERSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Members of New Sight Baptist Church started checking things off their Christmas list early. In October. Things like a manger. Angels. Some sheep.  

BRENDA: We put out our big buildings that we pull out and get those set up. Somebody was smart enough to put them on skids, and that helps with our backs and things.

Brenda Foster heads up the church’s annual Christmas drive-through event, which starts in about six hours. 


They’ve spent two months constructing props to look like Joseph’s bedroom, a Judean hillside, Caesar’s palace, a stable. Now it’s crunch time.   

With six bales of hay providing the crunch.

BOBBY: That baby ought to sleep good in that…

The event requires lots of volunteers, from electricians to actors. 

They staff 20 stops around a long circular drive in front of the church building. The stations depict everything from the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to the empty tomb. 

Todd Sumrall says the annual production is one of the reasons he became pastor here last year. 

SUMRALL: When I heard about it, I asked before we really got down to the details if me and my family could come see them in action. And we parked right over there and got, basically walked all the way through it. And we saw the church working. We saw the church fully plugged in, and I said, “Man, this has got to be a good church.”

But producing scenes with real buildings and live animals and amateur actors is a lot of work. 


Foster was already weary when it came time to get started this fall. She spends her days at a medical office, and dealing with COVID had taken a toll. Then her father-in-law became gravely ill.  

BRENDA: We were up at his dad’s every day and I kept thinking, how are we going to get this done? I was just disheartened. I mean, I’m not going to tell you no lie. Bobby and Todd even talked about not doing it one year, but then that might be the year that it touches somebody. 

And it’s that evangelistic aspect that keeps volunteers motivated. Usually they hand out tracts at the end of the drive through. This year, though, there’s no contact. Still, on the first night of their three-night run, Brenda talks to visitors. Through a mask.

FOSTER: First time or been before…? 

Weather conditions are perfect. It’s clear and 57 degrees. Christmas music plays over a loudspeaker. Smoke from fires at various scenes drifts through the air. 

Families roll down their car windows as volunteers direct traffic with flashlights. Kids stand up through sunroofs. 


Scripture signs at each stop explain the how and the why of Christ’s coming. The one near the manger scene has a verse from Matthew: She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.  

Richard and Renee Maxwell have played the part of Mary and Joseph 12 years running. Renee says the signs are very important. 

MARY: We hear them reading. The parents are reading the signs to the kids, and they’re just enthused over it.  

Before that manger scene, the 2,000 plus visitors see many other Bethlehem sites. 

ACTRESS 1: This is the marketplace. You come and check on beads and fruit… 

ACTRESS 2: We’re just doing some laundry in a big iron pot… 

They pass by the carpenter shop. 

ACTRESS 3: We’re carving a bunch of wood right now…

And a blacksmith shop.


With a very in-character blacksmith.

ACTOR: I’ve got a lot of Roman soldier customers, and they always want something sharp…

The draped and head-wrapped wise men warm themselves around an open fire.  They make some wise cracks about their beast of burden.  

WISEMAN: They’ve been laying down. They gave us some lazy alpaca. 

The men had other roles, too. They were responsible for gathering all the greenery necessary to turn an open field into Israel.

WISEMAN: We go in the woods around the church property and cut cane, bamboo, sweet gum, some pine. 

But seeing the reactions as cars and pickups pass by makes it all worthwhile. Especially when someone like Bobie Douglas comes through. She leaned over from the passenger side of the Toyota her father was driving to express her appreciation. 

DOUGLAS: This is what Christmas is supposed to be about. Not all the commercialism. It’s about Christ… 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in New Sight, Mississippi.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, December 17th. Good morning to you!  This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Commentator Cal Thomas now with a recommendation for Republicans in 2024.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: President Trump has contributed mightily to the Republican Party, giving it a backbone it seemed to have misplaced following the Reagan years. He also has reminded people that conservative ideas work, including tax cuts, a reduction in regulations and constitutional judges. Add to these significant accomplishments his administration’s brokering of four peace deals in the Middle East no one thought possible, much less achievable.

As he leaves office, where will Republicans go in 2024? The president has hinted he may run again in four years. If he wins, he and his supporters could enjoy sweet revenge. But should he run? As much as he has done for the party and the country, should Republicans put all their faith and trust in him? A lot could depend on how President-elect Joe Biden does in office. Biden almost certainly will not seek a second term when he is 82.

Last August, reporters questioned Trump at a White House briefing about polls showing his popularity was declining. Asked to explain, he responded, “Nobody likes me. It can only be my personality. That’s all.” It was a rare moment of transparency for him.

Americans still retain a remnant of the old-fashioned values my grandparents’ generation embraced and tried to instill in their descendants. One was not to belittle, demean, talk down to, or call other people names. Trump has consistently ignored that advice. While a large number of Americans still support him and the number who voted for him far outpaced any other Republican presidential candidate, or incumbent president, it wasn’t enough.

The reason can only be his personality.

Most Americans expect a certain amount of dignity emanating from one who holds our highest office. Could Trump have achieved all he has without the name-calling? I think so. At a minimum he might have resurrected a quote from a man who knew plenty about enemies, all of them domestic.

I have referenced Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address before, but it’s worth remembering, even memorizing. At the dawn of the Civil War, Lincoln said: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Could such an attitude have delivered a second term for President Trump? It might have swung enough votes to him from people who place a high value on deportment.

Republicans can continue to embrace Trump’s policies while getting behind someone without his baggage. Who might that be? My view of the perfect candidate is Vice President Mike Pence, who has been loyal to the president without the name-calling, while preserving his own personality, dignity, Christian faith, and kindness.

Republicans could do a lot worse than Pence, but not much better.

I’m Cal Thomas.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Tomorrow: Culture Friday with Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. 

And, I’ll review Soul, the latest big movie from Pixar.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 

Go now, in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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