Excerpt from “Quench” 2015 (page 24)
These are the two topics my father warned me never to discuss at a cocktail party or on Facebook. Of course, my dad died before social media took over as the agglutinate of politics and religion. Blithely ignoring his warning, I predict we are on the verge of a seismic political shift in this country, even as I acknowledge there are as many opinions about what this political shift might look like as there are people with a microphone.
It seems clear to me, however, that many Christian Conservatives are beginning to question whether their alliance to the Republican Party, which took hold in the 1980s, is truly serving the values of Christ. It all started in 1968, when Richard Nixon made a backroom deal with southern Christian leaders. The goal of the Southern Strategy was to strengthen the respective influence on American politics of both Country Club Republicans and southern white Dixiecrat segregationists. In exchange for political influence, Christian evangelicals cleverly co mingled the teachings of Christ to fit the conservative agenda, and vice versa. In no time, this hybrid ideology became synonymous with Christianity. Now, challenging conservative values is an act of heresy. Once Christianity became entrenched in governmental politics it could then be used as a wedge against anyone who disagreed with the “moral majority.” It has become a banner to justify any policy, no matter how corrupt or ill-conceived, to further the political aims of the Republican Party, which in my mind, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The bible tells us that no one, not even those calling themselves Christians, are immune from the corrupting influence of money and power. That’s why our founders wisely separated church and state.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. Romans 16:17
The bad marriage between country club Republicans and the extremely dogmatic, intolerant Tea Party (now the alt right), is causing deep rifts within the Republican Party. Many Christians have begun quietly searching for a political party that is truly fair to everyone, not just the super-rich. Fiscal conservatives are beginning to ask themselves whether unbridled, survival-of-the-fittest capitalism, truly reflects their Christian values, like loving your neighbor as yourself and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Is corporate welfare and the buildup of the military industrial complex, while stripping programs to protect the least of these, really in line with the teachings of Christ?
Many are beginning to see that Democracy is faltering and economic disparity is growing as a result of overzealous deregulation and the removal of reasonable restraints on corporate self-interests. The underlying reason is simple: the direct interests of corporations are not served by providing public service, which include infrastructure, police and fire protection, education, fair access to utilities and drinkable water. These are among the many services we all depend on to fulfill the social contract. There simply is no profit-motive in taking care of veterans, the elderly, providing adequate healthcare, fair housing, safe roads, a basic education, etc. A corporation’s chief goal is to make money; by definition, there is no long-term social perspective. Even corporate philanthropy is really about improving the company’s public image, while utilizing tax incentives. When private enterprise has gotten the chance to turn public services into profit centers, such as they have done with the prison system, charter schools, even the military, people on the low end of the economic ladder tend to suffer most.
A civil society, however, one in line with actual Christian values, is called to take care of the least of these. Charities and private enterprise simply cannot address the immensity of the need, despite what many well intended conservatives would like us to believe to the contrary. Capitalism is not a form of government; it is an economic system. It was never intended to operate unimpeded because our founders realized there is no end to corporate greed.
I predict Social Democrats, currently led by Bernie Sanders and supported philosophically by Pope Francis, are going to win the hearts of both fiscal conservatives and progressive Democrats. Once conservatives and progressives realize how much they actually have in common, the shift will happen quickly. To be sure, Social Democrats are not proposing we do away with capitalism; Sanders and others are actually urging us to get back to our true conservative values, which until recent years were to ensure that Government create equal opportunities for all, while preserving liberty.
Social Democrats don’t believe in free handouts, but programs and policies that allow people, no matter where they happen to be born, or in whatever circumstances they live, to have the same opportunities to better themselves that those born into wealth can afford to take for granted. Social Democrats believe people should be able to fail or succeed based solely on the “content of their character,” rather than the contents of their wallet. Social Democrats acknowledge that Capitalism is here to stay. That is why I’m suggesting the fiscal conservative will find common ground with this growing movement, which has been in place throughout Europe for years. The Social Democrats believe that lifting up the least of these is not only the compassionate, morally correct thing to do. It is also fiscally responsible. Social Democrats, who may or may not be Christians, are ardently seeking ways to make the system more humane and fair, more in harmony with the true teachings of Christ. I also predict Social Conservatives, whose primary goals are in protecting the rights of the unborn, the sanctity of marriage and gun rights, will eventually be addressed more effectively by the Social Democrats, whose focus is on creating equal justice for all. It is my prayer that once the ungodly alliance between the GOP and Christianity is severed we will be able to find humane, common sense solutions to our most volatile societal issues. We will finally reconcile the rights and needs of every individual, including the unborn, with those of society as a whole.