Sunday, November 11, 2012

After the Electoral Apocalypse

I try to avoid writing about secular politics here, for reasons which long time readers may have already puzzled out. I emphatically reject the mantle of prophecy which way too many people in my church don when they talk about politics. It's all too obvious that they speak, much of the time, for man, and not for God. Thus, in the Episcopal Church we get the conservative blogs repeating neocon talking points, while liberals proclaim the Gospel According to Al Gore (with Adam Savage [shudder] serving as a sort of deuterocanon). Don't get me wrong: fiscal responsibility, in the abstract, is a good thing; so is environmentalism and conservation. But economics and climatology are not our fields of expertise.

That doesn't mean that anyone else agrees with me, and naturally there has been a lot of commentary on the consequences of the recent presidential election. Now a think a rational person would interpret a re-election as a continuation, not as a radical change. Also, a rational person might look at the rejection of a series of marginal to hopeless candidates in favor of the very moneyed establishment Romney as not reflecting favorably on either the process or the will of those who drove it. But apparently either my standards for rationality are way too high, or much of the conservative world has lost its senses. The trope of the last week has been that in (re-)electing Obama, we've driven off some sort of cliff, that we've been faced with some sort of stark moral choice.

I don't see it. Yes, on some issues I would prefer the supposed principles of the Republicans, but on others, I think they suffer their own deficiencies. In particular they need to step away from shilling for the powerful rich; I also can't take seriously their promises about reducing the public debt considering that every time they've held the presidency in the last thirty years, they've run huge deficits. In any case, this was not a contest of moral absolutes, but of two men who both, to my mind, left a lot to be desired.

But I also see another message: the churches have pretty much reduced themselves to utter irrelevance in the political arena. Sure, some of them can get a lot of their members to vote as they advocate, but they have no sway over anyone else. The churches are instead being judged as to whether they hold the Right Positions on the Issues of the Day. And that leaves them, and us, overripe for corruption as tools of the various secular political factions.

For a couple of more sensible responses, I would commend Bryan Owens's thoughts on the overreaction and its peril to our souls, and Matt Marino's commendation to stay the course and continue the work of the church, come what may at the polls.

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