So yesterday I ran across a rumor that Pope Benedict was resigning because he was about to be busted over child sex stuff. In one sense that is not the least bit surprising, virtually everything conceivable qualifies as an internet rumor these days, and about 10% of the population believes that Elvis is alive. (That’s an old stat I am quoting that many no longer hold true, he’d be such an old man now that I would hope some of the hold outs would be giving up.) When I first encountered the rumor I intended to write about the lack of respect for religious institutions reflected in such false accusation.
But then yesterday Obama’s posturing on the sequester became the big news of the day. It is an old and tired routine at this point – “Congress need to fix the problem and they are not.” Yet another false accusation – that this is Congress’s sole responsibility. Sadly; however, this is more than blame shifting, this is political technique.
It is a technique I have seen many a protestant pastor use to deflect leaders in their church that have a pet peeve that is really not important enough to demand the attention and resources of the church proper. They tell the leader to “go for it” knowing that they hold enough power to keep the leader from getting very far. In the meantime, the pastor concentrates on what they perceive to be the most important agenda items. In this case, Obama does not want to be burdened by things like a budget, nor is he concerned about the military. Nope he has to be concerned about overturning the will of the people, expressed overtly in a vote, on gay marriage in California.
If what Obama is doing can be called leadership, it is subversive at best, Think about it. It is a means to passing an unstated agenda that is at least controversial, if not unpopular, while at the same time accumulating power and weakening the other power centers in the government. After all, at its heart this technique seeks to avoid the nuisance of having to work with Congress. Or when you do it has them backed so far in the corner that they concede on the Obama agenda in the hopes of getting something, anything, on the stuff that matters.
This technique has it’s limits however. It only works when the chief executive is popular and more or less untouchable. Unfortunately in this situation, I do not know how to bring those limitations into play. That I hesitate to say why is testament to how difficult the situation is. Obama is untouchable due to his race. Any action we take to undermine his perceived popularity will simply be reflected onto us as racism. I have no doubt that there is a significant number of people that will accuse me of racism simply on the basis of having written this entirely analytical paragraph.
There are only two ways out of this conundrum that I can see. One would be a to find and tilt up a figure with higher levels of popularity than Obama. (I think this is the game that Marco Rubio is currently trying to play. Much as I respect Rubio, if I am right his actions trouble me deeply. This would be a huge mistake. It one, feeds the errant value structure that got us into this mess and two, the such would serve to further unbalance the constitution.
The other alternative to hang on. Such subversive power accumulation is always a house of cards. Due to its reliance on lies, deception and subversion it always eventually falls apart. I think most of us are morose because we thought the 2012 election would be its undoing. We worry because unlike the last time this sort of thing happened (FDR’s re-election in middle of a depression that he only worsened) we fear the cards may not fall in a way that will allow us to readily rebuild.
Frankly, I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do know two things.
We cannot allow the false accusations to destroy our confidence. In other words we must cling to the truth about our ideas and ourselves. The second thing I know flows directly from this.
We cannot allow our personal values to shift. When it falls, and it will fall, if we have not preserved our values, rebuilding will be impossible. Germany is now essentially a secular state because the church largely went along for the ride with the Nazis. When that catastrophe ended, there was nothing to rebuild. Am I promoting a form of political martyrdom? That could happen, but I don’t think it will.
You see, I think that if we just stand tall and true and committed, the fact that what we have is better will be come apparent. Ronald Reagan borrowed from religion and called us a city on a hill. That’s not a weapon – it’s just a light. If shine brightly, people will flock to us.