When I wrote the first edition of this post, it was a rant because I was frustrated with politics. As I woke up this morning – this Super Tuesday morning – I realized that I could reign my ranting in and make an actual attempt at describing the real and mature frustration that I have with the current political climate.
I am a centrist, and have been for quite some time. I believe most truth lies somewhere in the middle, but being in the middle doesn’t mean being true. Nor does lying on the right or the left (or the top of the bottom) make something true. A good centrist (or moderate, if you are feeling that today) seeks the correct action, period. There is no narrative or agenda beyond finding the truth and seeking what is best.
The only agenda that I follow is the Christian agenda. And my Christian, I mean the example of Christ, which is radically important for what is to follow.
(For my non-Christian readers – all like 2.7 of you – read this as a thought exercise in morality that you can with the grain of salt that you would any other morality thought exercise.)
There are two absolutes that most Christian doctrines take from the words of Jesus: love and unity. Most non-Christians have those values in their personal theologies. They are pretty universal to human morality and help the survival of our species.
I am going to put the greatest commandments up again, with an emphasis relevant to our political situation:
37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
– Matthew 22:37-40 CEB
“…[y]ou must love your neighbor as yourself.” I want this to sink a bit, and then I want you to judge your potential candidates using these words. All politics aside, if someone is using hatred to garner support, they are not supporting a Christian agenda. Period.
I could spend a great deal of time seeking other examples of how Jesus commanded us to do things – and I could specifically point out candidates who don’t do those things – but any hatred used to garner support should be enough to disqualify anyone from the Christian vote. Period. Anyone who tells you otherwise has a very flawed understanding of Jesus.
That’s the part that’s relevant to today. What follows is relevant to the rest of the election cycle.
Christian unity is a big deal. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross did, amongst other things, unify the Israelites with the Gentiles. As Christians, we are one body united under one savior. It doesn’t matter what the doors of our churches say or which theologians we follow; we are all one under Christ.
As Americans, we have built an adversarial system that is designed to work by division. By designed, I mean the same way that Pugs and English Bulldogs were designed. We didn’t design what was best for us – and we certainly didn’t design what Christ would have desired – but rather we designed what felt best and played into our human inadequacies. As that selective breeding continued, the bad characteristics continued to grow while most semblance of what is good disappeared.
This is not the way that Christ envisioned things. This is the exact opposite of unity and love. The biggest problem, though, has almost nothing to do with the politicians. I hate politicians, and I will likely always hate them, but they are a product of the voting public. We’ve turned political discussion into a lynch mob and a hatred-filled meme war with deceptive infographics and every politician being compared to Hitler and Jesus at the same time. If a politician doesn’t participate in the political mudslinging*, they are weak against their opponents.
Why are the other opponents? Why aren’t they just people with different ideas? Why does it need to be a battle instead of a debate where the best candidate in the eyes of the voting public graciously wins and the lesser candidate graciously loses and then the winner works for the good of everyone, not just those who voted for them?
Because it just wouldn’t be fun if we didn’t tear each other down and judge each other and place ourselves on pedestals of being right while condemning everyone who disagrees. We think that we are absolutely right all of the time and anyone who disagrees with us is just too stupid to figure it out.
Why have we done this to ourselves? Every Presidential election cycle I lose friends. Literally every time. Why do we allow ourselves to get drug into this like pawns fighting the battle for political overlords? Why do we forget that we love each other and that other people can disagree with us without being stupid or evil? Why must we condemn the other?
I know this election cycle there is a candidate or two that people feel very strongly about – as do I – and I am not discouraging you from pointing out why a candidate would be very bad for our country. What everyone needs to stop doing is making it about party lines. If there is a candidate that is absolutely the worst potential president we could possibly come up with, stop condemning those who like that candidate, acknowledge that there are reasons why they support them, and respond to what is absolutely wrong with the candidate.
Please, stop tearing each other down for disagreeing. Stop calling people stupid and evil because they support someone who don’t. Stop comparing everyone to Hitler and/or Jesus. Actually show love and compassion for each other. This isn’t radical talk, it isn’t complicated, it isn’t even hard; stop dehumanize and demonizing each other and our politicians and act like the adults that you are.
Breathe in, breathe out, good boy.
P.S.: Sorry it’s a bit rough. I’d let it stew, but it’s half useless after tonight so…
*If this wasn’t a Christian blog, I had a much more colorful phrase for this.