Politics as usual

When I wrote my one sentence blog last week, I wanted to wait to see what might develop in the wake of the recent election. The answer seems to be, absolutely nothing.

Republican leadership has been demanding that Obama step up and be a leader. By the end of this week they made it clear they intended to refuse to cooperate with the President on the key element of a plan on which he campaigned—raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. In short, they expect Obama to lead but he can't expect them to follow.

Once again Republicans remind me how far we have strayed from the Christian ideal.

I am not claiming that Democrats are any more Christian than Republicans. In fact, we should never forget that faith and politics have little to do with each other. Jesus repeatedly stressed to the world and his followers that his kingdom was not earthly and was never intended to be,

The idea of a “Christian nation” is about as far from Christianity as the idea that a secular leader will save the world. Any secular leader.

Democrats, however, lay no claim to Christianity. I don't mean Democrats aren't Christians, I mean that Democrats refuse to wrap themselves in the pages of the Bible even though I find their policies more closely align with the teachings of Jesus (even expressed literally) than Republicans.

Republicans do claim to be Christ's authorities on earth. Not all of them, of course, but by embracing the Christian Right most are proclaiming themselves as the party of Jesus (de facto). Nor do they distance themselves from the most extreme Christian elements.

As a consequence, I find the Republican leadership's in-your-face politics even more ironic. Jesus was first and foremost about accepting responsibility. Republicans (the Christian Right Republicans, anyway) accept responsibility for nothing, as the most recent election has proved.

More moderate Republicans have admitted they misjudged voters and practiced an exclusionary brand of politics that is bound to fail. The Christian Right Republicans and their Tea Party adjuncts blame the failure of the election on everything from hurricanes to voter fraud to bribery.

(The hurricane excuse I find not just ironic, but funny. After all, if hurricanes struck Florida during the convention and New York during the election, they must have been sent by God. That would mean, of course, that either God wanted Obama to win, or the Republicans couldn't win in spite of God's disapproval of Obama—depending on how you spin the hurricanes.)

Now they are back to their same combative strategies, even though Jesus preached non-combat. If we are to listen to Jesus, Republicans should respond by turning the other cheek and submitting on tax breaks for the wealthy (Matt. 5: “If your neighbor asks for your coat…”).

Jesus believed in meekness and humility. The Republican resistance to the electoral will is bombastic and arrogant. The fact that they lost the election does not seem to them to be a sign of the people's will, but a sign that they should dig in until the people give in.

Listening to the last two weeks of Republican rhetoric, it is clear they want this country to return to the days before the Civil War, indeed the days before Jackson, when women and minorities had no say nor did white men who didn't hold property. In short, they long for the country before the original Republicans made it the inclusive nation is has become.

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