Cattle Drive, Fort Worth Stockyards, April 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What is Wrong with Politicians?

It's pretty commonplace to despise politicians and to hate politics. That's not entirely fair. Politics is nothing but the manner in which society strives to live a civil and productive life. It will always be marked by compromises and such, but it should also have some other distinguishing characteristics. For example, it ought to have a primary philosophical outlook which stands as its spring-board to action.
There have been many different base philosophies that have served, and I would certainly say that Christians should expect the basic Christian morality and freedom should be the normative model in the U.S. Surely sharia law would be absolutely incompatible with our cultural worldview and experience. I can see no reason at all to admit of any sharia compliant laws as they are purely based upon Koranic scriptures. It's principle is fundamentally different from what was established in the Anglo-American legal framework. But there must be a foundation. I would also say that it cannot be a socialistic philosophy which robs individuals of the opportunities of freely given generosity and assistance towards others as well as denying them the opportunity of their own personal freedom to make moral choices. This is fundamental, and it is a Christian principal.
But what is broken with politicians? Why do we see such scandalous behavior amongst our elected officials, like John Kerry's tax sheltering of his boat, Charles Rangel's ethical violations, Obama's justice department failing to prosecute overt violations of voting rights perpetrated by the new black panther's? (All of which are outrageous and by no means limited to Democrats.)
To answer this we need to remember that politicians are not outside the problems that beset humanity in general--whether or not one is a believer. Social ills continue and accelerate even in these so-called "enlightened," modern and secular times because man is fallen in action, will, and intellect. He is not broken, but terribly faulted. Since this brokenness has not been healed by the secular model, neither has the attendant social deprivations.
But I would suggest that all political models (and politicians) fail because those in power tend to serve themselves. When the world was ruled by nobility, it was fine when they understood their rule at coming from God and therefore the leaders understood that they too were servants of both God and their charge. (This may well have been honored more in the breach than in the main.) We see that by the time of Henry VIII or Louis XVI things could be altogether different. Even the remarkable Magna Carta was an attempt at limiting the power of the monarch’s self indulgence. So the Monarchies tended to become constitutional monarchies and Parliaments became the effective rulers of countries. Again they took on their own sense of self-serving. The ruling classes changed to that of the merchant rather than landed nobility. The merchant is concerned with the ledger books and accounts, with profit and loss. Soon, because he is running Parliament (or Congress here in the US), things become focused on his own profit. At least the nobility had to keep some care of those who cared for his manor and tilled his fields. The political progressives or none better than the mercantile representatives. They speak of serving the great masses through programs and then it is revealed how well they have been serving their own interests all along.
It strikes me that the only correction to this is for the electorate to select individuals whose desire is actually to serve rather than to be served, who desire to live under authority rather than to wield power. As an aside, this seems also to be one of the greatest faults of the theological progressive as well.
And here we might say that the modern secular state is very much part of the problem because its propaganda promotes each individual’s satiation. It does not seek to model true service and promote service and humility. (The modeling part is not insignificant, after all how many vacations and entertainment events can one President have within a summer? I find it scandalous.) Consider television programs and movies. They all present the great assumption that the purpose of life is to fulfill one’s fantasies, desires and passions. If one is not happy, then something is wrong. Here is the contaminant that stands at the root of the failure of all political systems and the scandals within the Church. So long as one is his own  definition of rectitude, rather than a transcendent and objective Truth, then we shall only continue to spiral deeper into the morass.
This is also the view of Plato, who was not particularly a theist, for his God was not a personal being but a theoretical perfection. The myth of the cave illustrates this nicely. And, of course, in this regard perhaps the greatest flaws of modern secularism is the subjection of all values to the relativism of those in power. Indeed it works well for the powerful because they are only reaping what they desire, which is only right as they see it. Meanwhile, in this secular world, the drain is open and pulling the rest of us down into its spiraling grasp.

Why does Cincinnatus stay on his farm in our hour of need? Where is his modern day counterpart? Hurry, Cincinnatus, we are in need of you again to save us from destruction through your self-abdicating service, leadership and virtue.

[If you are unaware of who Cincinnatus was and would like to know a little bit about him, see this:]

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