Is Democracy Done? The Road after Kavanaugh

Is Democracy Done? The Road after Kavanaugh October 16, 2018

No, it’s not done. But that’s the right question. It means that unlike many Americans, you no longer take democracy for granted. Democracy can only be maintained by vigilance and we have been headed down the road to unfreedom for some time.

Democracy?The Kavanaugh appointment was a failure for our democracy on so many levels.

The Senate failed to fully vet a lifetime appointment with a faux FBI investigation of sexual assault charges and a refusal to release millions of pertinent documents about Kavanaugh’s record.

Why the subterfuge? This court represents the long sought after end game of conservatives who have been chomping at the bit to undermine minority rights and let corporate greed run amok. These undemocratic forces have been at work in the court for some time. Supreme Court rulings since the ‘80s made schools more segregated now that they were in the seventies. Voting rights and labor rights have been gutted more recently. Kavanaugh’s appointment will mean more power and wealth concentrated in the hands of a few.

How do we respond to such a cataclysmic event? Psalm 82 evokes a cosmic scene like that of our own Supreme Court. An outraged and disbelieving God sits among the judges and asks:  “How long will you defend evil people? How long will you show greater kindness to the wicked? Defend the weak and the orphans; Defend the rights of the poor and suffering.”

Note the repetition. First: How long, how long, HOW LONG! Some of us are in mourning. Take time to grieve. But note what comes next. DEFEND! Lament drives the psalmist to action.

No doubt Trump would have accused the God too of trying to incite a mob for disrupting this assembly.

The evildoers in this psalm are dubbed puny “gods.” They cause people to wander around in darkness rather than rescue the weak and needy.

We can relate the the psalmist’s horror. Today our elected leaders have made gods of greed. Every decision they are making benefits the top .1% of the wealthy rather than the majority. America is an oligarchy, with wealthy individuals hoarding often ill-gotten or inherited gains that enable them to buy elections and politicians.

Today, our elected leaders worship false gods to amass their personal and party power. They look the other way for their own political gain while our president praises tyrants, and white supremacists, locks children in cages, mocks sexual abuse survivors, and exploits his office to enrich his own family at great cost to global peace and security.

The Republican Party has embraced a Nietzschean worldview that promotes dignity for a few rather than dignity for all. It is a party that promotes survival of the fittest rather than love of neighbor. It fosters fear rather than unity.

This is a dangerous values proposition and we as people of faith must counter it with a loud, public, theological voice.

Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court is not the end of democracy. It must be the beginning of a renewed commitment to our democracy. Kavanaugh is nothing new, but should inspire new resistance. Like Civil Rights and anti-apartheid movement leaders, we too must organize to achieve what looks to be impossible.

About Rev. Jennifer Butler
Rev. Jennifer Butler is the founder and CEO of Faith in Public Life and the former chair of the White House Council on Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships. You can read more about the author here.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Scott

    When I read posts, such as the one you just wrote, I’m bothered by the tone and the obvious lack of critical thinking skills. By your bio I can see that you are a pastor and so what you write carries more weight than the average person, in my opinion. Your post is filled with so much hyperbole that it’s difficult to know where to begin. I’m frustrated that I see that ideology has become the new religion in the US. It’s even shaping peoples theology. A Progressive Christian is someone who modifies a noun that needs no modification. Their progressivism shapes their theology instead of the other way around. It’s unfortunate but you are part of the problem and not part of the solution. It’s obvious that you position is that progressivism is good and conservatism is bad. It’s such a binary world view.

    “Today our elected leaders have made gods of greed. Every decision they are making benefits the top .1% of the wealthy rather than the majority.” This is pure hyperbole with no ability to be proven. It’s tribal mentality. These are repetitive talking points of the democratic party, which is the first clue that someone has an ideological agenda.

    “The Republican Party has embraced a Nietzschean worldview that promotes dignity for a few rather than dignity for all. It is a party that promotes survival of the fittest rather than love of neighbor. It fosters fear rather than unity.” More hyperbole. “Supreme Court rulings since the ‘80s made schools more segregated now that they were in the seventies.” This is a completely false statement. Schools are no more segregated than they were in the 80’s and the pockets of the country that have seen an increase in school segregation have nothing to do with Supreme Court rulings. It has everything to do with changing demographics and the country is becoming less white. There is really good science and data on this.

    My main point is that your post is an ideological post. We need less ideologues in the country these days, not more. And we certainly don’t need ideology wrapped in a facade of theology.

  • Obscurely

    This pastor agrees there was some gratuitous hyperbole and unvetted political talking points in this post that were unbecoming to the writer’s ministry. But (with respect) if you’re suggesting faith shouldn’t have a large role in a Christian’s political views, you might want to go back and study the New Testament more closely?

    By the way here’s an interesting recent article on the subject, with the views of a number of pastors and theologians from different Christian traditions …

    https://www.christiancentury.org/article/opinion/do-politics-belong-church

  • Obscurely

    Here’s an excellent recent article summarizing the views of a number of pastors and theologians from different Christian traditions on the subject of politics in the church …

    https://www.christiancentury.org/article/opinion/do-politics-belong-church

  • Scott

    “But (with respect) if you’re suggesting faith shouldn’t have a large role in a Christian’s political views, you might want to go back and study the New Testament more closely?”
    I completely agree with you. The problem, as I see it, is that a person’s political views are impacting their faith instead of the other way around. A conservative Christian is a conservative first and a Christian second, as with progressives. As I’ve written so many times, it’s a modification of a noun that needs no modification. And what usually happens is the modifier eventually takes precedent.

  • Obscurely

    There’s no doubt the relationship between one’s personal faith and their politics can be a vexing ‘chicken-or-egg’ problem! and it doesn’t help that many ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’ Christians don’t even consider each other ‘real’ Christians — hence the necessity of their qualifying adjectives?

    That’s why I keep urging my congregation to go back and study the Bible for themselves (and especially the teachings of Jesus) as to which political views scripture justifies or condemns. When this is done honestly and rigorously, both progressives and conservatives will find some of their most cherished “Christian” views don’t hold up to biblical scrutiny.

  • Scott

    Amen!