I’m going to blow some holes in what you are thinking about politics – that’s my hope anyway.
I have heard, and I agree with the sentiment, that this election cycle has included some really crappy candidates. Seriously flawed candidates. I hear you. However, this is not something new – or at least the feeling about the candidates is not new. In fact, this feeling is just about as American as apple pie.
As far as I can tell, the feeling that we’ve had crappy candidates and elected officials who are a danger to the country goes back to the beginning of the country. This shouldn’t really surprise anyone. The country came into being because the founders didn’t trust the government who was leading them. Ever since, we’ve never been happy with our leadership. Elections end up being about the right to vote for the guy that you know you are going hate within 4 to 8 years.
“Oh, but the founders were all loved!” No, they weren’t.
We have this mythology around the founding – that all the founders were wonderful, that Washington was supported by all, that they all got along and thought very highly of each other, that they didn’t play politics, etc.
The fact is, this is total myth, or worse, a complete lie. We want to believe this make believe story. We want to believe the lie that elected officials are some how special and better than everyone else. HA!!
I’ve been listening to several audiobooks in my car about the founders and early presidents. It’s been a great reminder of the reality of history and humanity and American culture. In an audiobook on Thomas Jefferson, the author tells the listener about disputes and power plays. It talks about the criticisms of Washington – some going so far as to push for impeachment of Washington. Jefferson and Hamilton leading differing parties and clashing with each other. Jefferson saying that people should be attached to parties. Politics in other words, is about power. It always has been and always will be as long as we humans are involved. Doesn’t matter if it involved men or women. We are not saints, but sinners.
I’m also listening to a book on Andrew Jackson. Again, another popular president in his time. Except for the people who thought he was dangerous and helped drive further division in the country as it crept towards civil war.
So all of this leads me to a few conclusions. First, what this all says to me is that the best government is a limited government with restrictions on government officials firmly in place and people watching over these restrictions to ensure that officials follow them. Second, comparing the US with other countries by saying this system or that policy from this country or that country should be done here is a mistake. The US is far different from many other countries and taking a policy from one place where it works and imposing it here will not generate the same results. The reverse is true as well – imposing our way of doing things on others doesn’t work out too well. There are too many variables – different histories, culture, beliefs, relationship between people and government, etc.
Third, in light of how so many people are feeling (not being happy with the slate of candidates or feeling like they are dangerous), I’m going to start something. #impeachthenextpresident. Of course I’m being facetious here. I’m actually just jumping the gun here. You know full well that regardless of who gets elected there are going to be calls from the other side that the next president is doing something unconstitutional and should be impeached. Just remember, it started here. You can thank me later.
Seriously though, what I think we have is a serious situation best stated from a post from Grumpy Pastor, a brilliant pastor-blogger:
The United States is so anxious, it couldn’t elect a leader to actually lead everyone out of a wet paper bag.
What we are experiencing is both new and old. I walked you through the old. The new is complex and I believe has something to do with a concept of cycles of civilization (something for another blog post).
My consolation is that regardless of what happens and who is elected, I am reassured that my hope does not lie in any human leader. My salvation doesn’t rest in a politician. My life is in God’s hands and I am loved by God, not for what I can do, but because I am God’s child. And so are you. Peace.