Strategery, or principle: Can there be a balance?
The struggle I am having right now – and no doubt many of you who think my half-pence worth a nickel – is finding the right balance, where and if compromise is acceptable and necessary. If you hadn’t figured it out, I’m talking about faith and politics; specifically, Christianity and involvement in our government and political system at any and all levels. Actually it’s a struggle and internal debate I’ve had since I could vote; and, then began voting. To be honest as well, there’ve been times I’ve “held my nose” and compromised, voting for a candidate/party I wasn’t pleased with, and there’ve been times I’ve voted strictly along principles, knowing full well that my candidate/issue of choice had zero chance of winning.
The last two years, and moreso the last six months have heightened that internal debate for me as our nation seems to be taken with a swell of conservatism, anti-incumbency, smaller government, etc. It’s a “movement”, it’s a “revival”. Right? It’s “Restoration”! And yet, while initially I was excited by what I saw happening, as this “movement” begins to coalesce – to grow in power and influence and establish itself – I find myself stepping back and eyeing the whole thing with trepidation.
Let me point out that I’d love to see a smaller government, a more conservative government, fiscally and socially; and I hope the Tea Party and other such groups succeed in their efforts to remove Progressives and liberals from power and authority over this nation. But, all power corrupts, and it’s pure naïveté if the Tea Party and 9/12ers think that they’re going to be able to maintain “purity”. All it takes is one person and mission creep can set in, or a take-over can occur unbeknownst.
We laud our founding fathers, and great men they were, but, while they were awesome statesmen quite often they were horrible politicians. Within short order of this nation’s re-founding (from Confederation to Constitution), things began to shift. Some point to Andrew Jackson, but truth be told, we can see it beginning much earlier, with Adams and Jefferson and even in the Supreme Court. Adams and Jefferson helped found this nation, yet they would eventually accept ideas that previously they’d felt weren’t good. Adams, the Alien and Sedition Acts. Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase.
The truth is, a great percentage of this nation has not and will not ever pay much attention to or see the importance of our government and politics until it directly impacts them and it’s time to vote – and even then many people don’t care or don’t see themselves as worthwhile in the grand scheme. Perhaps it is because I have had an interest in political things for over a decade that I’m more attuned, and thus the internal struggle is there.
As a Christian who takes his faith and walk seriously, Christ/God must come first. And that creates the debate because what I see occurring politically – specifically amongst conservatives (and more so those that call themselves Christians) – is a placement of politics and this nation first. “Oh, faith and God has his place, but let’s focus on American Exceptionalism” and on “Making this nation great again!” by whatever means are on the table at the moment. I see this time and again on conservative political sites, and it seems that most of these individuals are glibly unaware of what they’re espousing. If you go against their grain, you’re liable to be called a ‘moby’ (fake, troll, plant), ignorant, liberal, or just not thinking things thru, don’t have all of the facts, etc. Frankly many of the same charges can be put right back in their laps. I believe most people on those sites are reactionary; not really thinking things thru. Not really thinking about what is most important.
Now, again, many Christians heavily interested in politics will point to the founding fathers, most of whom were very religious, even committed Christians. Yes, it’s true, those people found a way to mesh their beliefs with their political actions. But there is something different about then and now. Back then they were creating a new nation and were in a society that was not as large, diverse or compartmentalized as it is today. Today we are a nation well established, huge, diverse and highly compartmentalized. For good or ill. Whether we want to or not, you cannot just say, this is the way they did it in 1776, so that’s how we’ll do it today. Yes, in some respects you can, but in others not. I wonder too though, how much people on both sides of the ideological spectrums spiritually and socio-politically are cherry picking the past to see and apply what they want to the present? Perhaps many conservatives are making spiritual mountains out of molehills just as much as liberals have completely changed and marketed the definition of “separation of church and state” to fit their ends?
What is most important? How do we balance being people of faith, believing in a perfect God – that rightly demands preeminence – and a Kingdom and reward that are not Earthly, to living in a nation which allows us so many freedoms, privileges and opportunities? I wonder if many of us are forgetting and/or are not properly applying the Biblical maxim of ‘living in the world but not of it’. I believe that many Christians who follow and are involved in politics are “of” the world a bit too much. I say this because the evidence I’ve seen over the years is that many who call themselves devout believers are placing their politics loudly up front, while their faith takes a quiet back seat… even making politics and everything that comes with it their ‘mammon’.
This is most certainly not to say that Christians cannot be politicians or involved in government, and it’s certainly not to say that we cannot be effective because of our strong beliefs. I applaud Christians getting involved in the political arena and hope more get involved.
The problem is partly, strategy. The political game. Many would of course charge that it comes with the territory, that it’s necessary. Hogwash I say, and the current “movement” proves that the game doesn’t necessarily have to be followed, it can be changed.
The problem with the political game is that it has been taken over by a prior movement, progressivism, and it infects both parties to the core and has affected this nation societally for well over a century. That movement and its adherents have used the system against itself and reformulated it along the way in dribs and drabs to their own ends and goals. Conservatives and libertarians, taking the “high” road, have just kept playing along with the game, either ignorant or apathetic of what has occurred. As a similar example, Islamists in the West have been and are using our democratic laws against us within our own nations. The only difference is that they make no bones about it. They’re quite public. Of course, both they and liberals scream intolerance when you press them on it and try to stop them.
What is the political game? Winning and power. Control. The excuse and reasoning given is that if one side is in control, especially for a long period of time, laws, regulations and resultant societal/cultural shifts cannot be properly corrected unless things are massaged, compromised, done gradually.
Sometimes our laws and culture have gradually changed, and sometimes they’ve been abruptly changed, but the game is always compromise, and that to change things back takes “time”, another words, it’ll never happen or if it does, it’ll take a very long time. Excuse me… If things can shift quickly one way, they can just as easily shift another way quickly too. Too many well-meaning Christians and conservatives are all too willing to play the game, thinking that it not only the best way, but the only way, to win and to “change” things… or rather “restore/correct” them.
Perhaps it’s time to get radical, truly radical. Perhaps it’s time to stop playing the game, and more importantly stop worrying about whether you win or not. Contrary to popular belief, winning is not everything, nor is it very important in the grand scheme of life. Sure, it is important, but what is more important is perspective and priorities – specifically the state of our soul. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been a sports person. It’s not that I’m uncompetitive or have zero athletic ability. I’m trim and like winning, but I realize that it’s not the end of the world if I don’t win something. Yet when the Cardinals or LSU loses, you’d think a person’s mother died, many get so morose. And when Obama won, for many, it was as if the world was ending and there would never be any way to recover. To be sure, there’s a lot of things Obama is doing and will do that will be virtually impossible to correct or change, and is and will make things here in the US very bad for a long time. But, is that the be all and end all?
It’s entirely possible that this nation will not survive as we know it – and in the very near future. As hard as that is for many Christians and conservatives to stomach, that is a concept that not only do you need to wrap your head around; but, you need to accept as plausible. Why? No nation has ever stayed on top of the civilizational heap forever. The mountain does not continually go up. Nations rise and nations fall. Nations, governments and people shift. There are things of greater importance than whether or not a conservative or Republican is in office. Your soul, your eternity, is more important than politics or the fate of this nation.
There are three ways you can affect change as far as I can tell. From the outside, the inside, or setting up a new system. I am not calling for a new Constitution, revolution, evolution or what-have-you. Perhaps we need to seriously consider a new system; starving the beast. The problem is that both of the main parties have institutionalized this nation into a two-party system. And while to be sure, both have big differences, they really are in effect two sides of the same coin. It was done in stages culturally, but the last nails on the coffin for third parties were hammered in over the last decade. Both the Republicans and Democrats came together behind closed doors and rewrote the rules in such a way that a third party will never gain national office (Presidency). So third parties or a multi-party system is not necessarily the way to go.
It’s interesting to note that both of the main parties do watch and listen to the third parties. As every national election cycle approaches, the Democrats usually take on the more liberal third party platform ideas and the Republicans do similarly with the conservative third parties. It’s about the votes after all, and what better way to remove votes from third parties than to show that you share their platform. With their rule changes and taking on of other planks, it’s evident that both major parties are certainly concerned about third parties. They don’t really care about the particular issues, but they do care about the power and voice represented.
Progressives and liberals have affected the Democrat party from the inside and the outside, while conservatives have largely tried to affect the Republican Party from the outside. While there are efforts to change the Republican Party from the inside, the Tea Party, 9/12ers and others are also trying to change the GOP from the inside. But is this the best method? I posit that the better method might be to “starve” them both. You don’t necessarily create a new party, but you effectively reboot the system, purging the infection in the process. The infections are the entrenched, progressive established leaders of both parties, though to be fair I’m focusing primarily on the Republicans. From what I can tell, and as far as I’m concerned, the Democrat Party can self-destruct under its own fractious obesity of progressive greed and relativism. I hold out hope that the Republican party can be purified, reformed and refurbished, to continue on. I suspect that at the very least, come 2012 the nation is going to see a complete revamping of the DNC with either the obliteration of the progressive wing, it going into hiding, or being booted out into the third parties, joing up with the Greens and such.
Starving the system of course means probable defeats. Horror of horrors you say; I say, “Good.” I heard a story recently of a coach who removed his whole first string of players with second string players because they wouldn’t listen to him. The team lost the game, but they took notice and realized the coach was the boss. Folks, we are the boss. We are the coach of this nation in a way. Certainly on a spiritual level, Christ is Lord of all – whether non-Christians realize it or not, or accept it or not – but politically, we determine the course of this nation. And that’s the problem; we have shirked or forgotten that. More importantly, we’ve bought into the lie that winning is everything and that a defeat cannot ever be overcome later. If that were true, the first time an athletic team loses a game, they should forfeit the season. You can learn from your mistakes. Losses can grow you.
On the face of it, that comes across as “We are the people we’ve been waiting for”, and in a sense that is true. But let’s not allow it to get to our head and change our perspectives. It is not, “I can do all things.” It is, “I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me.” If we do not put Christ first, we will always fail, even in our supposed successes.
I have stated it before, and I will continue to state it. The only way this nation will have a true restoration, a true course correction, and see improvements in our government – and the parties – are thru the power of God. Revival, real revival.
Someone said it sounded like I was waiting for a miracle from God and that I was implying we should all just sit back and do nothing in the mean time – just pray. Nope. The Bible is replete with stories of men and women and nations acting as they pray. King Hezekiah rebuilt and fortified walls and dug a tunnel for water to protect his nation and Jerusalem while he removed idol worship from the land and pleaded to the Lord in prayer for protection and a miracle. His nation was saved by the power of God. Yes, Hezekiah played his role and did what was good and necessary, but the reality is that only God saved Judah. The important thing to take away from that story is perspective and priorities. Hezekiah was a man of God. God came first and infused everything he did. He wasn’t willing to play by the pagan’s rules or Babylon’s rules. Yes, he wasn’t perfect. He was a flawed leader and individual like everyone else, but that doesn’t detract from what I’m focusing on, the actions of Hezekiah and the rescuing of the nation, at least for a time.
I look at what is going on amongst conservatives politically, and I see a lot of pride and a lot of nationalism. What I see occurring is a new religion of sorts which might be called Americana or Americanism. The roots of this ‘religion’ have been around for a long while. National pride; Nationalism. And I wonder if I haven’t seen a new phase of it rise up several weeks ago at the 8/28 rally. Yes, the United States is a wonderful nation, and I am glad that I was privileged enough to be born here, but we need to get off our high horse and stop thinking with such an arrogant view that the US is the best nation, the be all and end all, and the only proper perspective to have on the world stage.
Maybe the Tea Parties are the best way to go about correcting the Republican party, but I will consistently urge caution from the outside, and I will continue to argue that failure doesn’t mean utter defeat. And lastly, as I’ve said before, maybe dissolution isn’t so bad. Maybe what this nation needs is to be brought low, to come to the utter end, to collapse. Israel and Judah both dissolved as nations and went into captivity because they failed to keep things in the proper perspective – and most certainly to only worship the true God – but they didn’t disappear as a people. Their defeat grew them and strengthened them, they turned back to God. They returned to the land… and if you know your history, you know that they had to keep re-learning the lesson.
Maybe we need some reproving like ancient Israel. I pray we have revival and restoration first. Let us not lose our principles in order to play the game, thinking that the game is more important and the way to win. Just as with ecumenism, there is a time and a place for compromise. There are absolutes, but there are also gray areas in life. That said, there are times when compromise and relativistic applications to politics and faith are not good, and in fact are destructive. Is it worth a particular vote or win if you lose your soul?
For me, it is not horrible for the Tea Party or the Republican Party if Christine O’Donnell loses in November. It is not the end of the world if Roy Blunt loses. It is not the end of the world if the Republicans remain in the wilderness of minority status in Congress while the Democrats continue to destroy this nation of ours. Perhaps, and hopefully, the Republicans will wake up and realize that their establishment of Progressive warhorses is completely out of step – just like the president – and that come political starvation or forcible removal, their time is up.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord first and only. I am beholden to no man, party or organization. Yes, I/we are called to submit to the authority of those who govern over us, but our government happens to be a republic and what I argue for is not civil disobedience but a slightly different way of viewing the world and acting within it. Christ first, then my family, lastly my country.
– As an aside… For all of the diehard Republicans who think O’Donnell is sunk because of poll numbers and being a Tea Partier in a blue state, might I remind you of Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey. “Miracles” can happen. She’s already within around 10 points of her Democrat opponent. Stick with principles people, and you’ll always go to bed with an easy heart, no matter what storms and losses batter you.
Our political activism needs to start in the home, not in political action committees or political organizations, nor necessarily in the halls of Congress, lobbying, compromising and currying favors. We need to raise up a generation of people strong in the Lord, shining His light and love to each other and the world at large, hurting and needing Him.