I thought I might be watching Fox News. Or Jon Stewart. You know, when the people who represent us – in Washington, in our state capitals – don’t answer the critical questions, but merely repeat the text provided to them by party leaders. With the power of the Roman Empire at stake, there was no time or place for meaningful discourse; the chief priests and elders felt they had to strike; they had to win. Again, the parallels are uncomfortable. The Republicans, believing themselves anointed by the electorate in 2010, seem to feel compelled to strike now at all they despise about a government that serves any interests but their own. They sense the power structure from which they derive their identity, their status, their fortunes, their meaning, may be at risk; and rather than entertain any new paradigm, any new ideas, any shared, collaborative solutions to the enormous challenges we are confronting, they crucify it all with a simple-minded mantra like “We’ve got to live within our means.” If they lose their grasp on power (and history says they will), it won’t be because their political strategy failed; rather, it will be because our fragile economy, relentless joblessness, endangered environment, huge debt, intractable poverty, flawed educational system, broken health care system, growing chasm between the rich and the poor, the specter of injustice, and wars on multiple fronts require more than frenzied crowds and simple sound-bites, more than politics as usual.
As depressing as these thoughts were, coming to me as they did in church, where I might have hoped to derive some peace, I drew some comfort from the fact that our politics today are not singularly polemical and misguided; it may have always been thus. On the other hand, if, over the course of 2000 years we have learned nothing about fruitful political discourse, well, then, that’s not very Good News at all.comments powered by Disqus