A warhawk calls for unity
I was a little appalled when my Twitter feed lit up the other day with affirmation for George W. Bush after the former president and warmonger called for an end to pandemic partisanship. In many ways, I appreciate the sentiment (I offered a similar one last week, actually), but I couldn’t help but see the hypocrisy in the president’s statements. Some people say the man has changed (and maybe he has, painting cats could be his expression of repentance, I suppose), but I still recall how that man waged evil wars, allowed torture, and nearly took my faith from me.
Bush made his whole legacy by saying you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists. He’s a liar and a hypocrite for calling for non-partisan unity.
— Jonny Rashid ✝️ 🕊 🍞 (@Jonnyrashid) May 3, 2020
Bush has no business calling for unity when he was one of the most polarizing and divisive presidents of our time (and I really didn’t think it would get worse than him), but I find myself sympathetic to the people looking for comfort from our leaders, even heinous ones like Bush, because Trump is so transparently terrible.
Fairly hot take: Trump has disrupted American civil religion so much because he’s so transparently evil, that former critics of George W. Bush are ready to exonerate him in order to give the U.S. state apparatus its holy place in their lives.
— Jonny Rashid ✝️ 🕊 🍞 (@Jonnyrashid) May 4, 2020
Trump tempts us to believe his opponent is our savior
What’s more, I’m not just sympathetic, I find myself guilty of the same sort of civil religion. I succumb to the temptation that the state apparatus, notably the Democratic one, will save me every time we approach an important election. I don’t think that’s a person-problem that I have, though. I think the system itself is successful because it is trying to convince that it is the key to our salvation.
Obviously, most people don’t openly say, “the state will save me.” But I do think people look to the state to offer them what I think God only can. We want freedom, we want liberty, we want security. The state promises us that, and the United States does in its founding documents (in its sacred texts you might say), and so it’s not surprising that many people think that the president will too.
I admit, I thought that Bernie Sanders was going to, and I quickly shifted to Joe Biden when he became the presumptive nominee. I actually thought Joe Biden was going to save me from the horror of Trump. And maybe he will defeat Trump (my bet’s on that, by the way), but politics isn’t about salvation, it’s about power.
I warn against Christian participation in the state regularly (here’s what I wrote when I was worried about Bloomberg getting the nomination), and sometimes I do think it is a necessary thing (a follow-up to that spicy post), but I think it’s even more important to put the state in its right place and understand its limitations (and also its philosophical place in our lives).
Biden’s moral failings show us the state’s limits
I got jolted back into the reality that Jesus is my Lord when it became apparent that the Democrats were not interested in moral leadership, but just winning an election. And I’m ashamed I ever was tempted differently. Tara Reade has a corroborated story of Joe Biden sexually assaulting her (and the Democrats are ready to gaslight her for it). The Democrats famously fought against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court because of the accusations that Christine Blasey-Ford made against him, but when it comes to Biden they are silent. Nancy Pelosi says she’s satisfied with Biden’s denial. They weren’t so satisfied with Kavanaugh’s. And that is not a defense of Kavanaugh, but rather a demonstration that when it comes to believing women, politicians care more about their power than justice. If Kavanaugh was on the right side of the aisle for Democrats, I wonder how loudly they would have protested his nomination. The Democratic hypocrisy on Biden’s assault allegations shows us that they are not interested in morality or higher matters. It just tells us once again, politics is all about power.
Democrats are going to have an opportunity to demonstrate whether or not their #MeToo solidarity when it came to the GOP's misdeeds was just grandstanding or if it was sincere with how they act around Biden's assault allegations. (1/2)
— Jonny Rashid ✝️ 🕊 🍞 (@Jonnyrashid) March 27, 2020
I don’t even mean to assign meaning to that power here, but it has a functional difference than the church or our Lord does and we should never conflate the two. America is not God’s country and democracy is not God’s system, and while liberalism has some virtue on its own, it’s not fundamentally virtuous. I’m not “cancelling” America when I say this, I’m simply stating that it can’t take the place of Jesus in any way and that should we participate we should do so with caution and trepidation.
A main job for Christians on the earth is to alleviate suffering, and unfortunately, participating in a flawed system and electing flawed leaders is part of that. But they miss me with the idea that Democrats are morally superior—they are demonstrably morally superior to Trump—but they don’t corner the market on it because morality isn’t their main aspiration. Once again, power is.
Politics is about power, fundamentally. And when you vote you are deciding to empower someone to do the right thing. Obviously, there are circumstances when you vote for a bad person in order not to empower a worse one. Biden, in this case. (1/3)
— Jonny Rashid ✝️ 🕊 🍞 (@Jonnyrashid) April 28, 2020
And so while I plan on voting for Biden, I do so as the best option among bad options. Someone recently told me voting is like taking the bus that will get you closest to where you want to go (or furthest form where you are, in this case). I think that seeing it as a matter of harm reduction is important, but let’s not blame anyone, women in particular, for not voting for Biden. We needn’t compel people to vote even if there is a practical reason for doing so. After all, Democrats vilified conservatives when they did the same thing with Kavanaugh.
God holds the monopoly on morality, not a party
What this whole moral failure of the party demonstrates to me is the limitations of electoral politics—we knew it all along, but it is particularly flagrant at this juncture. Democrats might make things better, but they are limited in their moral leadership and in the material difference they can make.
Furthermore, what this also shows me is that when it comes to politics, there is a very limited utility in assigning one party moral superiority. Now, I don’t want to mince words: the Democrats and the Republicans who oppose Trump are morally superior to him. But the amorality of the Democrats when it comes to Biden shows that they hardly hold a monopoly on morality. When we think that a single political party is “moral” and our allegiance to them is because we are moral, I think we’ve been duped.
Ultimately though, and I know I sound like I always have, but the political parties won’t save us, neither will the office of the president. They can certainly make things better for us, but the Democrats have demonstrated their moral limitations and the limitations of the office itself (and their flagrant hypocrisy) by turning a blind eye to Joe Biden and his assault allegations.
Believing women results in believing in the resurrection
It is a distressing reality that the powerful only believe women when it’s convenient for them. We need another way. And I think the church has an opportunity to be prophetic in this moment. But it has a lot of work to do this in this regard. In this season of resurrection, let us remember it was women who first witnessed Jesus’ resurrection, and believing them changed the world.