After less than one week following the mid-term elections, much has been revealed that is worth noting.
First, there are still a majority (or so it would seem) that can and do discern the troubling direction America is headed. Like most political pundits including Limbaugh, Krauthammer, and others, I do not feel this election revealed a positive message from Republican candidates that voters could turn to as much as a repudiation of President Obama and the Democrat party’s politicians up for election or in many cases, reelection. If this isn’t a classic argument for a strong two-party system, I’m not sure what is. (There is an interesting side-note to this regarding the Libertarian Robert Sarvis: blogged by Brian Doherty
Second and most telling in this election was the admission by nearly anyone and everyone that fear, apprehension, and distrust in the government and particularly this administration played a key role in how those who voted, voted the way they did.
Consider the weeks running up to November 4th.
To begin with, Americans saw the hideous and astonishing rise of ISIS/ISIL as they over-ran Iraq – beheading captured American journalists and British aid workers, and circulating the grisly videos for the entire world to see. It was particularly heartbreaking, or it should have been to see the ground so many of our warriors who sacrificed their lives in battling a war against evil completely over run by a new and amazingly strong terrorist army. If ever someone died in vain, this would rank as a textbook example. We were told we would be better off leaving the battle field and come home. We wanted to believe that, but the wiser among us knew better. It should be noted that Iraq is not just some troubled and distant country filled with warring factions of Muslim sects. Since the arrival of ISIS/ISIL, tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands in ancient Christian communities have been slaughtered. With a brutality that makes the Nazi holocaust pale in comparison. In a recent article found in Christianity Today, the details and the impact are reported. The evidence would indicate that after hundreds and hundreds of years, the last Christian people in the Middle East will be completely eliminated.
Then one day, a man from the western African nation of Liberia arrives carrying the deadly Ebola disease. Ultimately he dies, but not before infecting two others – nurses heroically tending to him at a Dallas hospital. The Ebola scare then begins in earnest: A doctor from Doctors Without Borders arrives in New York and is diagnosed with Ebola, but not before he has circulated around the city for days in what most now believe was an infectious state of the disease. The biggest revelation was not so much the terrifying symptoms of Ebola, as the horror in the unfolding ineptitude of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in their attempts to recover their feckless, in-charge posturing with one revelatory walk-back after another.
Finally, the very evidence many Americans have been denied really knowing began to emerge: An economy that is growing terminally ill with vastly lowered salaries and wages, and fewer jobs. The reports are now arriving in a dreadful parade that the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable and will be highly unlikely to bring healthcare to millions upon millions of Americans. Moreover, it now faces its own existential threat as the Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments regarding the federal subsidies applied where state exchanges do not exist. This development is revealing a major flaw in the law as written and exposes the duplicity its chief architect worked very hard to hide. Incredibly Jonathan Gruber brazenly admitted recently – and was recorded – that “lack of transparency” was a chief factor in getting the law through congress. In the same viral video, Gruber refers to the “stupidity of the American voter” for employing the deception.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the elections were anything but close in most every case – but it was surprising. After witnessing the last six years, I for one, began to think that good sense, honesty and awareness had become mortally wounded in this “fundamental transformation” of America that was promised in 2006.
All of these things proved to be factors in this election… one way or another.
[su_quote]Which is why I will remain skeptical for the time being and will not expect much to change unless… unless people really have had enough, and this trend toward tyranny can be slowed and ultimately stopped. Yes, that’s the word for it: Tyranny.[/su_quote]
Recently I read the text of a really wonderful speech delivered by William Voegeli at Hillsdale College just this past October and reprinted in Imprimus. (I would encourage all clear thinking pastors and leaders to subscribe to Imprimus as it is one of the best newsletters available that speaks into the culture.) Voegeli has done a masterful job of explaining how liberals think and why. His speech is entitled “The Case Against Liberal Compassion”.
I have long wondered how liberal politicians – politicians who insist on appropriating tax-payer’s money, dismissing American exceptionalism, marginalizing the rule of law and only succeeding in making it harder and harder to pursue happiness, (not to mention live life and enjoy liberty) actually get away with it. What’s the connection? How can anyone get away with unchecked power in the hands of so few? How has the EPA for example all but rendered it impossible to live and thrive – whether you are a business owner, farmer or even homemaker without breaking some draconian regulation? Voegeli makes the very compelling argument that liberalism’s well-spring is compassion. For example:
“All conservatives are painfully aware that liberal activists and publicists have successfully weaponized compassion. ‘I am a liberal,’ public radio host Garrison Keillor wrote in 2004, ‘and liberalism is the politics of kindness.’ Last year President Obama said, ‘Kindness covers all of my political beliefs. When I think about what I’m fighting for, what gets me up every single day, that captures it just about as much as anything. Kindness; empathy—that sense that I have a stake in your success; that I’m going to make sure, just because [my daughters] are doing well, that’s not enough—I want your kids to do well also.’ Empathetic kindness is ‘what binds us together, and . . . how we’ve always moved forward, based on the idea that we have a stake in each others success.’ ”
If Liberalism is the politics of kindness, then I suppose it must be implicit – if not explicit – that conservatism is the politics of meanness or cruelty or some other pejorative – right? Well, of course not. But the current narrative would have you believe that because it’s being delivered by the dominant news and entertainment media, it’s being taught in our taxpayer-funded public schools and upheld in our judicial and administrative law courts every day.
If there is one thing that is revealed in the analysis of this current situation it’s this: Compassion is wonderful when it exposes the proper response – sensible solutions and remedial action. But a closer look removes the veil and we see that most liberals are willing to accept inefficiency, corruption and unwarranted expense as long as they are perceived as compassionate.
Voegeli states, “… [L]iberals do not seem all that concerned about whether the machine they’ve built, and want to keep expanding, is running well. For inflation-adjusted, per capita federal welfare state spending to increase by 254 percent from 1977 to 2013, without a correspondingly dramatic reduction in poverty, and for liberals to react to this phenomenon by taking the position that our welfare state’s only real defect is that it is insufficiently generous, rather than insufficiently effective, suggests a basic problem.”
One of my chief issues with Liberalism is this: Owing to its proclivity for activist compassion, it will tolerate invasive and domineering – even tyrannical behavior from those who are in positions of real political and judicial power. For example, as much as I am critical of the ballot initiatives with the voting public, we should at the very least assume that they ought to be considered the straightest line to the will of the people and thus be afforded the respect they deserve. But liberal judges as we all know too well, have no trouble in overturning voter mandates again and again if they do not comport with their sociopolitical world view and subsequent agenda.
In the last few short years, we have viewed the evidence of where liberalism’s chief flaw really lies. There are those who manage to use compassion to assert their own view of things and when invested with power over their domain, will disregard something that should still be a part of the equation: What’s best for the folks – as Bill O’Reilly might say. That is simply stated in what the framers of our Constitution knew very well. They understood the reasoning of Aristotle as expressed in his “Politics” and “Ethics.” They understood that a republic will thrive on the freedom of responsible individuals embracing virtuous living and, who in turn subscribe to the importance of defending, upholding and nurturing the freedoms and best interests of their community. Centralized and invasive governments cannot do this without encroaching on these same freedoms with compulsory and punitive powers. Obama Care is a horribly splendid example of this. And what’s worse based on complete duplicity.
This is where compassion – the kind that looks good on the sleeve can defer, and will defer to the rule of the strongman to salve their conscience. [su_quote]This will explain why inefficient largess and legislated compassion will so easily breed corruption.[/su_quote] Only when this corruption goes too far and assaults the personal liberties of the individual, including the thoughtful liberal individual perhaps, will the populace begin to turn away from it – if only for a season. Perhaps we have seen some evidence of that once again this last election day.
From its inception, our republic has been called a political experiment. After 233 years, I personally think the experiment has been proven. At least its basic foundational premises have. The people will be the final arbiters of the government they prefer to have. After all, we are supposed to be the government. If the “experiment” is to continue, the political party that opposes the tyranny of weaponized compassion will need to enter into the narrative and present its case clearly and forcefully. Good governance requires that we explain the difference between compassion for its own sake with prudence, personal responsibility, and an honest, servant leadership that listens and responds – and rarely dictates.
The tide will only turn when it is proven that waste and failure are simply not an option anymore. Again, we need to preach this message and teach it to our children. But is Aristotle and Christian doctrine compatible? Jefferson and his compatriots certainly thought so. Read the Declaration of Independence for proof. (We post it and the other foundational documents elsewhere on this site.)
There is nothing illegal in preaching to the current ills that are breaking the back of our nation. Pastors during the revolution had no qualms in doing so and America’s history records that same tradition has continued for generations since then until recently when it has become difficult to hear many do so anymore. Why is that? Is it because we think we skirt the borders of electioneering when we do? By speaking to the culture that embraces politicization of the liberal ethic, Christians will do the best and the most patriotic thing of all – by invoking the supremacy of Christian compassion as revealed in scripture. When Jesus healed the blind, the sick, and the sinners, He would then give a command to take action. “Pick up your bed and walk…” or, “go and sin no more.” There is something very revealing about that. It requires personal action and responsibility on the part of the beneficiary of His compassionate healing. We have been given enormous freedom in Christ – and great responsibility to actually do something with it.
Compare that to the handouts, the unearned entitlements and the massive amount of debt they burden the people with. Implicitly, no one is expected to do anything except receive and maintain that status. (An entitlement society after all requires some effort at that I suppose.) Responsibility is something almost anyone can respect and expect from others. This certainly includes our elected leaders. We expect them to be responsible. Our obligation in this equation is to insist they do. The ballots are counted, the results are all in. But the dialog has only begun. I believe we must work in keeping our political office holders to task. And we dare not be afraid to speak out when they don’t.
As always, be informed and be prepared. Blessings to all.