Last week’s mid-term elections got me to thinking more than usual about American politics. I’ll admit the probability that this particular exercise doesn’t always tend to be productive. I don’t mean that it’s not healthy to evaluate the political scene; more like I have a well-founded suspicion that we’ve been here before. But it is necessary we understand the dilemma before we can attempt to extricate ourselves out of it.
The Republicans ruled the day and now are poised to rule the Senate along with the House for the foreseeable future. The results of the elections are an obvious voter backlash, indicative of the fatigue and frustration many feel at the current administration. And they carried their opinions to the ballot box, which seems like the proper place to deposit it.
But I’m not really interested in sounding off on the potential benefits of a GOP leadership. Nor am I going to spend any time flogging the dead horse of criticism directed at the Obama administration. There are those who will defend the latter regardless, and those who will place their trust in the former at any cost. How quickly we turn back to what didn’t work before thinking somehow it will be different this time around. Someone once said (paraphrased, or course) that this is the definition of insanity.
Six years ago the buzzword in America was “change.” It was perceived that George W. had made a mess of things. So amid the almost messianic exaltation of the obscure senator from Illinois, hope swelled the populace, fueled by plenty of mass media bias and a pre-emptive Nobel peace prize. I remember sitting in a small restaurant in West Africa when the 2008 election results were announced. Stunned into silence, I couldn’t believe the tears literally streaming down the faces of Obama supporters. Are we really going to place that much hope in a man? Has history taught us nothing? Remember Caesar, anyone?
That didn’t work out too well. Now, apparently, we’ll swing back to the Republican Party—they can fix it.
“That’s not fair!” I hear someone cry. “We have to put somebody in office. Right?” I guess under the democratic system, it is indeed up to the people to vote someone in. But here is not the place to address the inherent flaws in a pure democracy. I know: America is a democratic republic. Unfortunately, many people don’t know the difference anymore. The lines have gotten so blurred (or irrelevant) that for the sake of simplicity, we’ll say democracy.
What alarms me in speaking of either major party, or the men and women who fill their ranks, is the faith in political processes that have proven themselves incapable of altering the overall trajectory the American Empire has been steadfastly following for over half a century. America was never by any measure perfect. But she has been the most successful of historical experiments in individual liberty and self-governance. That’s not patriotism speaking, just facts.
I’ve lived in and traveled through countries where the man on the street is at the mercy of anyone in uniform, where he has no chance in the court system without money and connections (if he even gets a trial), and where the staggeringly wealthy albeit tiny elite manipulate the system so that the vast majority have zero hope of improving their lot. It causes me to appreciate my American roots all the more—and simultaneously grieve at what the country of my birth is losing.
I don’t believe America was ever a “Christian nation.” This concept is more of a convenient, though well-meaning, reinterpretation of history (to be addressed in a future post). Having said that, there have no doubt been many God-fearing, Bible believing men and women whose lives and writings shaped the political scene and undergirded the nation with a healthy sense of morality. And this legacy hung on to varying degrees for generations. But with the blessings of heaven come wealth and its offspring, leisure. A well-fed, entertainment-addicted people easily become an apathetic lot who tend toward loose living and decadent behavior. Look around. It’s happened to us.
And, western society’s demise has political ramifications. Or, the reverse: politics-as-usual have contributed to the demise. I fear that when it’s said and done, the Republicans will have disappointed us once again. Then, we’ll head on back over to the other end of what’s really the same pool, never suspecting that perhaps the problem isn’t left or right, liberal or conservative. The problem is while both parties parrot different rhetoric, they’ll both continue kicking the same can down the same road.
What’s the solution? Perhaps, like life, the solution is complex and there are no quick-fix, easy answers. I think the first step is recognizing the problem. And from where I stand, the problem is revealed in the facts: despite the “numbers,” the economy is not recovering; the Democrats have been just as aggressive, if not more so, than the Republicans in their pursuit of international interventionism; the Bill of Rights is increasingly viewed as an archaic and irrelevant, though still possibly quaint, document; and, the State will tolerate, even endorse almost anything except a biblical expression of Christianity.
So I predict—not because I can see into the future but because it’s already the pattern before us—that nothing will significantly change because of the recent mid-term elections. And in another two years, a majority of Americans will probably clamor for a Republican president. Will we still be scratching our heads and wondering why everything is still business as usual? I hope not. Time will tell.