Monday, November 01, 2010

The Morning Before

Politics is not easy. Candidates for public office are painfully aware of this, yet they choose to endure. Why? Are they really so convinced they (and/or their respective party) alone possess the magic pill that will save the nation/state/county/city and so are willing to take on the role of martyr? Or are they so delusional as to believe they alone possess that magic pill? The political TV ads, newspaper ads, radio ads, and incessant automated telephone calls try to convince us that our lives are either meaningless or hanging on the fringes without them and their particular brand of legislation or representation or leadership. These same ads and outreach efforts also try to convince us that their political opponents will cause the earth to stop spinning on its axis, ending life as we know it.

You and I know deep down they are all full of something substantially less-than-noble, but they don't seem to know or care that we know this much. I'm not even sure they know what we know at all. What they do know is how to play a crowd. They know which buttons to push, and they know most of us react emotionally even when confused with facts. They know what we are afraid of, and they know how to assign blame to those fears. What is becoming increasing clear, however, in listening to these unbelievable ads is that most of these people who are running for their respective offices do not know the functions and limitations of the offices they seek. One need only to consider some of the outlandish promises being made to know they are either clueless themselves - OR - they are counting on our cluelessness. In the end we reward them with that coveted office they are willing to go into debt for (they easily spend more than the job pays! There's our first clue, America!!), thereby solidifying their belief that negative, mean, hostile, disingenuous and less-than-honest ads, and downright falsehoods will win the day. This is how they become increasingly convinced that you and I are clueless and don't really want clues. "Please lie to us, Candidate X! We like it! And while you're at it, say something bad about your opponent's mama!"

We only want to be stroked, petted, and courted. We want to be convinced that our sorry lot in life is not our fault. We need to be convinced there really is a magic pill (cut spending/raise taxes). We don't want to believe (or even to know) that as easy as it was to get into the shape we are in (and like it or not, it began long before the current president, his predecessor and many others before them), it will be incredibly difficult to get out. We don't mind the idea of "cuts" in federal spending - in fact, we know cuts are a must - but we are not willing to personally endure those cuts. And this they know all too well. It is how they are able to get away with the sorry ads we are forced to endure for over a year. They do them because we seem to like them. And we obviously like them because we respond to them.

So here it is the day before Election Day, and I am so disgusted with the entire process and all the people involved that I am having a hard time convincing myself that I should even bother to vote. I feel like my participation will only encourage these nasty people, and yet I know every vote counts (or, at least, I hope so). The last time I voted I felt almost "dirty" because I did not like any of the choices. I was as disgusted then as I am now. I am at an impasse because no matter how I vote, the candidates who win the day will not know or even care about little ol' me. They will clearly care more about the party they represent, and they will care about those who can personally or politically benefit them in some way. They will begin to care about me when they come up for reelection. THEN they will answer my letters or take my phone calls.

What bothers me most, what really causes me great concern and distress is the unbelievably large number of Christians who believe politics is a useful theological tool (even as I am thoroughly disgusted with politicians who use theology as a useful political tool). Jesus and the apostles call us to be respectful of government and one another "for the sake of good order", yet we feel perfectly justified in cursing and judging one another according to political inclinations.

More than this, however; I am overwhelmingly disturbed at the large number of Christians who believe politics should define - or can define - our faith; can, in fact, subsidize and substantiate our very religion.

I have to say the Jehovah's Witnesses seem to have the right idea in removing themselves from the political process altogether. It must be said, however, that our republic is not ruled by a monarchy; we are self-governed. If we remove ourselves from the political process altogether, we them subject ourselves to whatever may come our way. We relinquish our role as part of the governing process and will be stuck with whatever comes.

So it sounds hopeless. From a purely political, social perspective there is no real hope. President Obama will not "save" us, and Congress cannot help us - not in the way we need to be "saved" or "helped". And the sooner we come to terms with this absolute reality, the sooner we can stop depending on and demanding so much from our government. But as long as we put so much of ourselves into the hands of man's political religion of self, there can be no hope within us. And as long as we reward liars and deceivers with virtually unlimited power and control over our lives and our society, we will get exactly what we asked for; exactly what we deserve but not at all what we would dare to hope for our children.

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