Spirituality for Today – Summer 2018 – Volume 22, Issue 4

Election 2018

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A mid–term election typically is not an event that sparks great interest, but politics today is a different kind of animal – or is it? If we turn back to last century, we find George Bernard Shaw saying, "He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything; that points clearly to a political career." In addition, George Orwell said, "In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia." This all sounds eerily familiar. One wonders how the nation has survived this long. Perhaps, the Founding Fathers, dealing with their own chaotic situation, summoned a collective wisdom that established a system of governing bodies and an elective process that is able to function.

The question here concerns itself with the possibility of a radical change in the understanding of what it means to be a politician and the character of the electorate itself. Does anyone believe that, if one particular party has control of Congress and the Presidency, it makes for an effectual and harmonious governing mechanism? Is it possible that the two–party system has run its course? Has the majority of the electorate attained a level of political acumen that it expects something more authentic and more honest of the character of the candidate courting his vote? These questions may find an answer or, at least, an inference through an analysis of this year's election.

What of the voter? What can we deduce about the men and women who enter the booth to cast their ballots? From a cultural perspective, this may be the most important question of all. In the past, the philosophy of a political party might appeal to specific groups in our society representing commercial or social interests. Voting the Party Line was quite common. Today, one legitimately can question exactly what values or concerns a political party espouses. We recognize that the American voter is disgusted with "do nothing" Congresses and extremist gangs holding forth in the political arena. Many citizens either cannot discover viable candidates to address change or give up on the possibility of trusting elected officials to care about something other than being re–elected. Given that the quotations about politics at the top of this editorial are not from Americans, we might learn a lesson or two about human nature and the challenges within democracies. At this juncture, let us abjure any thoughts of the benefits of totalitarianism no matter what stresses exist within the democratic process.

Politics may be described as a sea fed from the confluence of competing ideas. Filled with compromise and conciliation, politics produces some glory and some ugliness. Although we often vent our frustrations at the ballot box, it is our responsibility to pray for the wisdom and understanding required for us to uncover the truth of a candidate's character from all of the vitriolic statements connected with political campaigns. The idea of a nation such as ours and the ideals hoped to be realized keeps us striving to create an authentic reality of government and to elect individuals worthy of our trust to attain them.

We are a flag waving people. We have a symbol that unites all of the peoples of the world that constitute the body of individuals we know to be our nation. In attempting to sum up the American voter and why we vote, I refer to a statement about our flag by the Supreme Court of Nebraska, "To the citizen it is an object of patriotic adoration, emblematic of all for which his country stands – her institutions, her achievements, her long roster of heroic dead, the story of her past, the promise of her future." We vote because we believe and because we hope.

For over two hundred years, the American experiment in democracy has made its way through many internal and external trials that truly tested our mettle. Through it all, it was the American voter who determined the course to follow. As a nation, we claim to trust in God. As long as we seek the enlightenment of God's grace in navigating the ship–of–state, this United States of America will thrive.