An addendum to the immediately preceding entry:
I’m a republican. (Note the small “r.”) Which is to say that I believe in a very limited government and a free people, and that political leadership, while important, is only a small part of life — and generally nowhere near the most important.
Thus, I really object when people — and especially free people in a republic — confer messianic or quasi-messianic epithets and attributes upon any politician, whether s/he is on the Left or on the Right. It’s a moral duty to mock such things — think of the ridiculous titles attached to the late and unlamented Kim Jong Il — because servility is a crime against humanity and human dignity.
I won’t be party to an American Führer-cult. Not for a liberal, and, for that matter, not for a conservative.
I was assigned as a missionary to German-speaking Switzerland.
There are many, many things that I love about Switzerland. One of them is its decentralized, republican form of government.
I’ve been told that Edward Gibbon considered doing a history of Switzerland before he finally settled on chronicling The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire instead. And Friedrich Schiller’s play Wilhelm Tell was a hymn to freedom, a declaration of heroic independence from tyranny.
Shortly after I had arrived in the country, in the latter half of 1972, I asked a good, solid, bright Swiss bürger who the country’s president was. He thought for a while and said that he believed that the president’s name was Nello Celio, and that he was an Italian-Swiss from the canton of Ticino. Or maybe the name was Celio Nello. He wasn’t really sure.
I loved it.
That seemed to me to shrink the size of the political sphere down to just about where I would like it to be.
I don’t object to religious language and religious attitudes for religious subjects. I venerate the apostles and prophets of my church. I don’t even object, too much, to the apotheosis of certain dead political leaders. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, for example, may actually deserve it, in my judgment.
But to bring religious language and religious attitudes into secular politics, to acquiesce in the quasi-deification of a living politician (and, especially, in the particular case of Barack Obama, of one who has proven, thus far, rather mediocre at best), is, for me, a step too far down the road to serfdom.