On Politics: A Mixed Bag is the Best Deal in Town

Blessed are the rich in wealth, for theirs is the kingdom of men. Blessed are the indignant, for they will be promoted. Blessed are the powerful, for they will disinherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after responsibility, for they will be filled. Blessed are the successful, for they shall be shown success. Blessed are the smooth in tongue, for they will see votes. Blessed are the kingmakers, for they will be called the sugar daddies of ambition. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of licentiousness, for theirs is the coverage of journalists. Blessed are you when people misquote you, persecute you and libelously say all kinds of slander against you because of success. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in public image, for in the same way they persecuted the politicians who were before you.

Government is proverbially known for corruption and the powerful are axiomatically known for milking the weak. The advocates who step forward to help the underdog and the little guy—trade union bosses, lobbyists, job-creating CEOs, smiling presidential candidates—have ulterior motives and broken promises are the norm. Even so, government is an essential part of human society and we appeal to the powers that be to solve problems that we cannot handle. Who do we ask for help when the barbarian hordes threaten to sack and burn? Who do we ask to commission public roads through swamps and mountains? What is more, the government pursues thieves and murderers, enforcing justice so that normal life can continue. Although justice is not equally enforced for Wall Street bankers as well as small time drug offenders, it seems that life with some government is better than life with none at all.

We the people want the government to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity and shove off when it comes to everything else. Some people say, “Stay out of my bedroom, but watch what he does in his boardroom!” Others say, “Keep morality in the bedroom, but get your nose out of my boardroom!” We the people want the government to protect us where we have it good and breathe down the other guy’s neck when he is messing us up. When a legitimate moral issue comes up, the motions that we can instigate in the political spheres have much to do with the karmic balance between our representative political factions. Whatever we asked our boys up in the legislature to do before affects what we can ask them to do now, and their own agendas alter the courses of our petitions. Although the Bible tells Christians to pray for our leaders, we are body as well as spirit and therefore find ourselves fully wrapped up in politics despite the fact that the Bible tells kings more about ruling wisely than citizens about voting responsibly.

Voters often have a three card monte choice for political offices, while politicians have the choice of allying with Satan, Beelzebub, or the Antichrist to accomplish any significant portion of their agendas. From the American Revolution to the Civil War, anyone even remotely opposed to slavery had to deal with slaveowners in Congress and in the White House. No matter how good and right the abolition of slavery would have been, opponents of slavery had to deal with the fact that their enemies occupied positions of authority. Although limitations to the slave trade made it into the U. S. Constitution, the question of how far westward to extend slaveholding and how much of Mexico to take in order to provide for the extension of slavery pushed the issue further and further until the Civil War ended the matter. Today there are questions about big banks, abortion, drone strikes, gay marriage, and other controversial issues that hold up the day to day workings of government. Whenever one issue is resolved, another issue takes its place and the defeated opponents of the new political orthodoxy repackage their old views or find new homes in new controversies.

I have no real recommendations for voters—I am a monarchist, after all. As for politicians, I have all sorts of recommendations:

  • Bring home measurable amounts of real bacon, not promises of good meat in the future.
  • Set somebody up to revise all of American law and straighten out the language. Put the lawyers to work doing something useful. Being clear about what is in the law is at least as important as what it says.
  • Be a terror to rich evildoers as well as poor ones. There are fewer of them and it might give the police an easy job for once.

Government is always a mixed bag at best. The Bible essentially says that rulers have to rule wisely, the people have to obey the appointed authorities, and no one should absolutely trust the government’s power to guarantee the good life. I love how the goal of prayer for authorities in 1 Timothy 2:2 is “a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (ESV) rather than pleading for 100% Christian government. The government is no decent guarantor of pure Christianity and Christianity is no guarantee of good government. Voters sometimes have to choose between the False Prophet and the Antichrist, and politicians have to choose whether to fox trot, waltz, or swing with the devil. I want good government. Everyone does. Barring that, I would settle for not being bothered by the government fending off all the other things that I am not being bothered by.