How Much Confidence Do You Have in America’s Political Process?
Seventy-one percent of Americans are unhappy with the country’s direction. People are frustrated, and their frustration is revealing itself on the political scene.
It wasn’t even a year ago—November last year—when Republicans scored a historic election victory. They gained control of the Senate; they increased their majority in the House to its largest since 1928; they even picked up two governors’ seats. Many viewed that result as dissatisfaction over President Barack Obama’s unpopular policies. Republicans were jubilant, confident in their power to begin reversing the nation’s direction. Sen. Mitch McConnell called it “a chance to begin to save this country.”
So much for that.
Republicans promised to defund Obamacare or repeal it. They promised to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and stand up to unlawful executive orders. They promised to reduce trillion-dollar deficits and to check America’s runaway debt.
They have done none of these things. Republican control of Congress has done virtually nothing to stop or even slow the Obama administration from doing whatever it wants.
And it’s not just that the president will do anything necessary, even outside the law, to fulfill his agenda. Congressional Republicans have shown a stunning lack of will. They are not using even those tools they do have to stop him. The most recent stunner was their failure to mount any real opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, what Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry called “the worst foreign policy deal ever made by America.”
All the optimism surrounding last year’s election has proved completely ill founded.
Now we are in the midst of another presidential election cycle—and it is wild. In many ways it reflects Americans’ frustration.
The top Republican contender is a man who would likely never be considered a serious candidate under normal circumstances. But people appreciate him because he is everything that the Republican establishment is not. He presents himself as a tough negotiator. He says he can’t be bought. He won’t be walked on—if you attack him, he attacks you back. He’s not politically correct. He puts the media in their place. And he continually talks about the fact that he’s a winner. He sells optimism, and leads people to think he can actually get things done. When he says he will strengthen the military, build a wall, make America a respected nation again—it doesn’t sound like mere political rhetoric: People believe it. And they are so disenchanted with politics as usual that they’re willing to overlook this man’s considerable flaws—his arrogance, his narcissism, his public, petty, childish insults.
The next top two Republican candidates are also political outsiders—a brain surgeon and a former business executive. After two elections lost by middle-of-the-road, mainstream Republican establishment candidates, voters are clearly fed up.
On the Democrat side, the top two candidates are a woman whom a large majority of Americans don’t trust—thanks to years of scandals and a current fbi investigation—and an avowed socialist. The Wall Street Journal did an analysis of this man’s proposals—government-run health care for every American; large sums to rebuild roads and bridges; expanded Social Security; free tuition at public colleges—and found that they would cost $18 trillion in government spending.
How confident are you that the person who emerges from this next presidential election will actually be able to solve the problems plaguing the United States?
I watched a fair amount of the Republican debate a few weeks back: 11 people on stage, all trying to make a witty comment, giving the sound bite that will bump up their poll numbers a few points, jabbing at and accusing each other, boasting about themselves, contradicting each other over supposed facts. cnn was in the middle, goading the candidates into arguments with questions like, What did you think when he said you couldn’t be elected with a face like yours?
It was a bizarre mix of arrogance and distractions and nonsense. And cnn snagged the biggest ratings in its history. That is what cnn cares about—not about whether the event truly reveals the candidates’ leadership credentials.
This is supposed to help us know who will make the best president?
I find some of these individuals impressive in some ways. But judging by the shifts in poll numbers after the debate, my personal opinion about what might benefit the country differed considerably from what apparently impressed many other people.
Do Americans really know how to elect a leader?
“An election is not a popularity contest, or an award for showmanship,” Thomas Sowell recently wrote. “If you want to fulfill your duty as a citizen, then you need to become an informed voter. And if you are not informed, then the most patriotic thing you can do on election day is stay home. Otherwise your vote, based on whims or emotions, is playing Russian roulette with the fate of this nation.”
Here’s an important question: Are the qualities that cause someone to stand out among a sea of other candidates really the same qualities that qualify someone to lead? How important, for example, is the ability to deliver a solid one-liner attacking an opponent?
Are arrogance and narcissism good qualities in a leader? I would argue that we have tremendous evidence to the contrary in America’s government today. Yet the polls suggest that many Americans still believe it is a tremendous political virtue.
How much do Americans really know about the candidates?
Two presidential elections ago, Americans chose a man whom Tom Brokaw admitted the media hadn’t really vetted. People bought into an idea of what they thought or hoped he would be, while ignoring several realities. For example, seven in 10 Americans thought he would improve race relations in the U.S. Was that belief based on truth?
How confident are you that you know the truth about these current candidates? The political process is distorted by lies peddled by the candidates about themselves and about each other. It is distorted by money, which brings candidates to the front who have it and steamrolls those who don’t, regardless of their qualifications. It is also heavily distorted by media reporting.
And in the end, even if you do get the victories you think will benefit the country, you may still end up with a feckless Congress like the one America has now.
In his book The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this: “[T]oo often what we find is selfish, greedy men of excessive vanity, ambitious in their lust for rule, scheming to get their hands on the throttle of power for personal aggrandizement and monetary gain. We find secret deals, graft, immorality, deception, dishonesty, running rampant in high places.
“Governments promise peace—but bring wars. They promise benefits for the people, and then extract from the people the cost of the benefits plus excessive costs of government. Government promises are empty. The people are the pawns who fork over the money, in order to get a part of it back. We fail to find in human government any knowledge of life’s purpose, or dissemination of the true values.”
How much confidence do you have in America’s political process?
America’s form of government is doubtless among the best, if not the best, on Earth. It is unparalleled in its design to constrain tyranny, to protect against corruption, to prevent leaders from becoming too authoritarian, to preserve accountability to the people. And its political process is far better than those under which the vast majority of people on Earth live. Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote, “If there be a country in the world where the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people can be fairly appreciated … and where its dangers and its advantages may be judged, that country is assuredly America.”
However, recent years have witnessed more and more abuses of power that undermine the benefits of America’s government, including the trampling of constitutionally prescribed checks on power, and rank lawlessness by the judiciary and the executive branch. In many ways, the election process itself is being hijacked by factors that undermine its effectiveness and turn it into a farce.
In a recent Key of David program, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry talked about the curse revealed in Leviticus 26:19: “I will break the pride of your power.” That America is suffering from that curse today is evident in its collapse in the Iran deal, its economic problems that undermine its standing in world, its feckless foreign policy that emboldens foreign enemies and tyrants.
But as he brought out, God doesn’t blame the leaders.He says the real problem is with the people. It is our sins that brought these curses!
This is a crucial point. Americans want to blame all our problems on the politicians—but the fact is, we put them in office.
The boilerplate campaign refrain is, If we can just get these bums out, we’ll solve everything! When will we acknowledge that the problems are bigger than that?
And when will we accept responsibility for our part in the problems?
America is suffering from a host of curses: a broken will, lack of competent statesmen, lawless leaders, social breakdown, racial strife, economic problems. These are curses that God is bringing upon us—not because we haven’t exploited the full potential of our wonderful political process well enough, but because we have turned our backs on Him.
How well do you suppose a politician today would fare who brought a message like that?