A Self-controlled Rant About Partisan Politics
This piece, in a lot of ways, will be a rant. A good, old-fashioned, “do you know what gets on my nerves?” rant. I have put some thought into this piece – especially when arguably the most publicized election in the free world is around the corner – but for the most part, this will be very much on the fiery side of the Fiery Logic spectrum.
November 6th is set to be quite the day as the US goes to the polls to elect a President for the 57th time. Much of the heat is focused on two very different characters – Harvard law graduate, former Senator and incumbent President Barack Obama and former Governor of Massachusetts, businessman and practicing Mormon Mitt Romney.
I still remember when Barack Obama was elected four years and the endless barrage of Facebook postings about “Hope” and “Change” and those infamous Red and Blue pictures with the rather awesome effect. As someone living in the UK, US elections generally haven’t bothered me, but then Barack won and America has its first ‘black President’. Generally speaking, I don’t care for the “first black…” label but no-one could deny the history of it all. That was four years ago.
Since then, Obama has turned from an interesting and eloquent figure to one that has polarized society. A string of policies which has only served to antagonize social conservatives and controversy over whether he is truly even American has made him one of the most attacked figures around. Media figures like Glenn Beck have made a name out of feeding on the web of conspiracy theory that surrounds him. Dinesh D’Souza has made a killing in the US with his film 2016: Obama’s America. The 2009 film The Obam Conspiracy hit 11mil views on YouTube. In short, it has never been more popular to hate the President.
That’s not to say Mitt Romney isn’t up for a kicking either. No, every gaffe made by the good Governor meets with repetitious media coverage, his Mormon faith has made the classic American religious movement front-page news and his supposed ‘ineptitude’ has been parodied from pillar to post. In short, in many minds, “Mitt just ain’t it.”
That leads to the purpose of today’s rant. I have noticed a disturbing mindset in even Christian circles that frankly annoys me. While I live in the UK and so the accusation of “political apathy” will probably come my way, it is no secret that when the US sneezes, the planet needs some Lemsip and the same sort of party worship is slowly coming here. For my British friends who question this, one small indicator should make my point: when have we ever done those kitschy political debates? Oh wait, that was our last general election. In fact, I can remember sitting in classes in my first year at university discussing whether our political model was becoming more presidential a la the US. Time will tell but if it does, an even-keeled approach will be needed.
So what is that worldview?
I wish I could take screenshots of my Facebook news feed and show the endless streams of arguments about why it is wrong to either vote, not vote or vote third-party. The undercurrent of all this lies one thing: America is great and must be kept that way at all costs. In short, America can be a utopia but only political machination can bring that about.
Now understand me – I am all for patriotism. I’m a Ghanaian born in the UK and I love both countries deeply. However, make no mistake – the UK or Ghana are not perfect and definitely not worthy of the kind of worship that I see in much of the discussion. It is almost as though there is an inherent belief that America is a utopia that must be brought back to its utopian height.
I expect that from those who are not Christians, from those who have no hope of a life beyond this one or a belief in a Kingdom that far supersedes this world and will one day be extended over all creation. In many ways, I am content to let them get on with it.
But when that creeps into the mindsets of believers, I am troubled. Now, hear me – I am not calling for political isolationism. Should you vote? If your conscience doesn’t condemn you, go ahead. Should you actively hold political convictions in conformity to biblical principles? If Christianity is a worldview, I’d expect nothing less. Does that mean then that we should be consumed with every happening in the political realm? No it doesn’t.
And yet what is consuming the tweets, posts and thoughts of so many Christians online? A flawed political system with two sinful men, both of which have made compromises no-one should comfortably be happy with and both of whom for the sake of election will make promises they can’t keep – and at your expense?
Where should our hope lie? I can’t speak for the hearts of many, but I can speak for me when I say:
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Tim 4:10)
Abortion is a horrible, horrible act which we ought to speak out with all our might against. Same-sex marriage is a full affront to the divine order set forth in Genesis 1-3 and the Church should be on the forefront of speaking to it. But our platform is not on the shoulders of a corrupt system – our platform is the Word of God and the Gospel it proclaims. You want to see an end to abortion? Start by witnessing to the scared and confused young girl on her way to the abortion clinic and let the Gospel do what it does. You want to see marriage upheld? Do what Paul did in Romans 1 and tear the idol of self down and you’ll see change.
I’m sorry but the kind of political utopianism that has become part of evangelical life and even argued for by those who ought to know so much better frankly forgets that while we are called to be in this world and that means a godly engagement with it, ultimately we are subversive agents of one Kingdom living among another. No amount of political wrangling will do what the Gospel we have can do. How about next time you feel the urge to post that political cartoon, you posted some Scripture? Or the next time you sit in front of your TV, tempted to watch MSNBC and give yourself a migraine in the process, you went out and actually preached the Gospel to someone?
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world…” – how about we actually started acting like it?