Midterm elections for the US Congress and some state political offices are a week away and we are all surprised it has gotten dirty. Negative ads work. Unfortunately, they also obscure the issues. [By the way, I have reviewed some of my observations and predictions about the Presidential election two years ago and I plan to review them shortly, but not tonight.]
I don’t like the current political atmosphere. I am somewhat concerned that America is more and more polarized and the polarization centers on moral issues. The culture wars are heating up. Liberals are more aggressively liberal (dare I say socialistic) and conservatives are more aggressively conservative (dare I say fundamentalistic). And the swing votes are switching sides faster than pancakes are flipped on the grill at IHOP.
I regret the current conservative revolution centers on taxes. Taxes are too high; government spending is too high. Our current patterns cannot be sustained. The Tea Party seems to have tapped into a growing awareness that the Obama class wars against the rich will inevitably destroy the middle class, the very group he promised to protect and expand. My regret includes the fact that nobody is truly concerned about the poor and the afflicted.
Perhaps more than any other election in my life time, this election exposes the fundamental problem with democracy. In the past two years liberals have governed and enacted programs aimed predominantly for the middle class (me). Certainly, healthcare reform will benefit the lower end of the middle class more than others, but the thrust was to ensure the middle it would be taken care of.
In this set of elections the Tea Party appears to me to be focused on the upper end of the middle class. They are concerned with economic security. Those who have don’t want to lose it. And so we have the problem with democracy; it is the same problem that plagues capitalism, sin, especially the sin of greed. Democracy entices a society to be self-serving. More often than not, especially in periods of economic uncertainty, we vote for our pocketbooks. At least we think our vote will help provide for our personal welfare and prosperity; whatever is good for me has to be good for everybody else.
And therein lies my appreciation for democracy and capitalism. I trust people to look out for their own best interest and when people share the power the result will be the greatest common good short of the reign of God. Further, I trust the image and Spirit of God to nudge humanity toward justice. Therefore, I believe democracy, tempered by representative government that ensures deliberative and graduated change is the best assurance for personal freedom and social order.
The great American experiment in representative democracy is cumbersome and flawed, but it is a gift from God that has been essential to our nation’s greatness. I am thankful for our system of vacillating democracy.
October 25, 2010