We had some guests over the weekend in our home and Sunday I sat on the patio I picked up my reading from the Psalms. Soon others came to join me, so I read it out loud. I happened to be reading from Psalm 43, an this is how it begins:
Vindicate me, my God,
and plead my cause
against an unfaithful nation.
Rescue me from those who are
deceitful and wicked.
When I finished, I made the observation that I used to read Scriptures like that and immediately thought of Russia or other Communist countries who at the time wanted to force their views on the entire world. That morning, however, my mind had gone first to Washington, DC, and how unfaithful and deceitful our “ruling class” has become. (Someone else soon added, “Sacramento” as well, since our state politics is perhaps even more corrupt than our federal government.)
This led to an interesting discussion as to whether or not any of us could cite an historic example of those who gained power and advantage over others and did not end up using it for their own privilege and in doing ended up oppressing others. We could think of none that lasted any length of time. Perhaps this is why God never wanted some people to hold power over others. The advantages of power and wealth seems to always corrupt those in its clutches and their never-ending quest for more.
I wrote a few months ago about the unholy alliances that have usurped government by the people and only manipulate the anxiety of the masses to build their own power base. Where are the people of character and concern who will put the common good above their own personal gain? If we don’t find them we are surely in the waning days of the American experiment.
It does not delight me to talk about our state or national leaders in such terms. When I was younger I had great hope in the ideals of America. I never expected a democratic republic to be perfect, but I at least had hope that those in national service really wanted to do what was best for the country. I don’t know if I was more easily scammed then or if things really have gotten worse, but no one even pretends anymore to work for the common good. We are splintered into two political parties who fight over their own power, not the good of the country. And while they feign disgust at the other party, they seem content to trade the seats of power from time to time, since nothing substantively changes in the direction of our government and its relentless need to control every detail of our lives.
It seems to be that while they have us focused on liberal v. conservative politics and foment a class war between those who pay taxes and those who receive entitlements, they blind us to the real class warfare between an ever-more entrenched ruling elite who act for their own gain at the expense of normal people. They exempt themselves from laws that govern us, use “public service” to line their own pockets, and then retire from government service either with ridiculous pensions, or high-paying lobbyist jobs in the private sector.
As the first of two political conventions begin this week I found myself agreeing with the Psalmist, asking God to rescue us from deceitful and wicked leaders. I guess that prayer is in hopes that there are men and women of character somewhere who can stand in the gap of the excesses of power and ultimately do what is right and just for the people of this nation, and the world. But I don’t see them on the horizon at this point and certainly neither of our major political parties even give lip service to that ideal anymore.
It behooves us all in this country to think even beyond this election and stop playing into the hands of those who manipulate our political system to their own advantage. Don’t get caught up in the rhetoric of accusation and hatred for those you might disagree with. Don’t fall for negative campaign ads that hide the truth rather than illuminate it. And, demand better of your representatives than to just tow the party line when it only benefits the party and not the country.