A friend asked why I don’t write any posts about politics. My goal is to present the way of Jesus and not to write propaganda for a party or candidate. But with that in mind there are some things I can say. For starters, there’s a growing trend in this country to have the attitude “My party is the embodiment of total good and yours is totally evil.”
Since I viewed both presidential candidates in 2016 as deeply flawed, my attitude was: “A pox on both your houses”. That’s a paraphrase of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. Is using Mercutio’s quote too harsh? I know there were millions of people who voted for a third party in 2016 instead of either Trump or Clinton. (Full disclosure: I was one of them).
Here’s a polarization check: Regardless of which party you are in, do you have a charitable heart when your party doesn’t get its own way? Or are you furious that those ______ of ______ in the other party have gotten their own way?
And when a politician from your party is defeated, can he or she cheerfully move back to having a real job? Every four years you hear “This is the most momentous election in history —- our democracy will probably end if the other party wins.” Look at the way the opponent is portrayed in attack ads. I get the impression that the devil is a sweetheart compared to the target of the attack ad!
Much has changed over the last 60 years. Think of the generous way Richard Nixon reacted in 1960—yes, Richard Nixon. He accepted his disputed loss in the 1960 election with good grace. He knew that he would be the new president but for the election fraud in Illinois and Texas. But Nixon knew that somehow, the US would continue and survive even under a Kennedy presidency.
Nowadays someone in Nixon’s shoes would scream “The whole thing was rigged — I have been cheated out of the presidency—the country is doomed.”
Back in Nixon’s time there was a generalized cultural belief that God was the absolute. God was in charge. We were one nation under God whether the “R” or the “D” won. Those were the days of BOMFOG, the acronym for the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. This wasn’t tied to any one denomination —- BOMFOG was simply a generic belief that a higher power was in charge and not us. Indeed, President Eisenhower said, “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.”
Now, though, what a momentous change: The civility of BOMFOG patriotism has ended. Loyalty to any religious denomination has eroded. Often, fealty to one’s party has replaced loyalty to God. Instead of joining a church or synagogue or civic organization, we get a sense of belonging by joining like-minded ranters and screamers on the internet.
Does this sound too pessimistic? Can it change? Going forward I will take a stab at some answers.