“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
FAREWELL ADDRESS | SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1796
George Washington cared about America. I honestly believe that differentiates him from just about everyone in a position of power in Washington DC today.
I include in that assessment the Congress, which is so enthralled with loyalty to political parties and personal ambition that they consistently put America last. They have abrogated their duties to author, debate and vote on legislation and by doing so they have created a presidency which is, right in front of our eyes, an elected dictatorship.
The American people themselves have become so devoted to their political party — and it does not matter which one it is — that many of them are willing to toss aside everything else they say they believe to follow these parties.
Christians toss Christian teaching in the trash to follow their party. Catholics attack the Pope because he says that some of the “teachings” of their political party are antithetical to following Christ.
The party in power — again, it does not matter which one it is — demands loyalty from its followers in a “fight” with the “other” side; a “side” which they tell us is nothing less than the spawn of satan. The party out of power — again, it does not matter which one it is — inspires almost hysterical loyalty from its followers in order to “fight” the evils of their “other” side, which, of course, they say is the spawn of satan.
Both parties claim the moral high road. Both parties say that the other is evil incarnate. Both parties tend to tell the truth when they talk about the other party. Both parties lie, lie and lie when they talk about themselves.
I began writing Public Catholic because I understand politics. I see through things that most other people don’t even really see. I wanted to use this hard-learned knowledge to equip Christians to be more effective for Christ in the political sphere.
But I no longer believe that I have anything to offer that will be heard. My first message, and the one which I just don’t think can get through, is that Jesus has to be first. If you are unable to be around politics without becoming a slave to political forces, then you should stay away from it. Your vocation lies elsewhere.
The most important thing anyone has to do if they want to be effective for Christ in the political sphere is to follow Christ without question. You must follow Him even when it’s unpopular, even when it’s lonely, even when it’s the flat-out and obviously stupid thing to do.
Following Jesus means you follow Jesus.
It does not mean that you pull out lines in Canon law that you think exempt you from following Him. It does not mean that you parse and split the Gospels until you grind them down into some little masticated something that will allow you to ignore His commandments because you have adapted them to fit your political party’s cant.
Following Jesus means you follow Jesus.
You cannot blindly follow your political party and follow Jesus.
You cannot blindly raise up some political demagogue and make him lord of your conscience and follow Jesus.
If you want to follow Jesus, you have to follow Jesus.
Just … follow.
You cannot serve two masters.
If the master of your conscience, if that which informs your understanding of right and wrong, and tells you what to think and do is your political party, then you are not serving God.
There are many other sayings of Jesus I could use, but that one is enough for now. To be honest, I would like to quit doing this. I don’t think I’m getting through. But for now, it seems that this is my calling. To say what won’t be heard.
Wise George said it all when he told us that political parties would become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
He was prescient with that statement. We are watching it unfold in real time, right in front of us.
In the midst of this chaos and the deeper chaos that is coming, there is only one Way to turn that offers sanity, hope and a future. That is the Way of Christ.
But that Way requires that we stop giving over our thinking capacities to these two political parties. We absolutely must stop drinking down the mind-bending poisons of lies and propaganda that emanate from them and start thinking for ourselves.
If we do that, we will not all agree. Even Christians, who have the same principles on which they build their actions, will have different ideas about the best way to do things. That is the strength of human beings, that we are each original and that we each one think differently from everyone else. It is healthy, it is holy, for us to be the individuals we are.
It is democracy when we think together about things and work out our differences in open discussion and debate and then settle on a single best solution that is a pastiche, a compromise, of all our ideas. That is the power of the great engine that is our minds.
The blind loyalty to political parties, which are never acting for our good, unless it is by accident, cancels out both our own individual thinking powers, and the enormous power for good that is all of us, thinking together about how we can do what is best for everyone.
Blindly following a political party is offering up your greatest power, which is your individuality and ability to think, on the altar of nothing much. This little g god is like all other little g gods, in that it does not care about you.
When I first got cancer, I put an affirmation in my phone and scheduled it to come up every morning. Change or die. That was what it said. Every morning I reminded myself that the way I had been living was, in reality, a way of dying.
America is at just such a pass right now. We are tearing our country apart over partisan loyalties. I’ve actually had people come on this blog’s comboxes and flat out say that they didn’t care what happened to the country, they only wanted to get the other side in the political wars.
There is so much hatred in our political world right now that it is scalding to behold. It saddens me more than I can say that so many Christians have given themselves over to this partisan hatred, that they behave as if their country doesn’t matter, as if the common good doesn’t matter, as if the Gospels don’t matter, just so long as they can get even with the other side of these political wars.
It doesn’t matter much which political party you belong to — and I know I’m going to get speeches here about how terrible I am for saying that — but it does not matter. What matters is what you do.
Follow Christ and Him crucified.
Stop following the little g gods of political parties and political demagogues.
Then you can be effective for Christ in the political sphere.
But so long as you blindly follow these little g gods of politics, you will be nothing more than a tool for the power brokers who own these parties. You will be a thing they use to help themselves.
You cannot serve two masters.
Think about it.