October 5, 2007
We Need Idealism in Faith and Pragmatism in PoliticsBy Kyle-Anne Shiver
The way a lot of folks are getting all whipped up over the top-tier Republican candidates -- and their human frailties hung out to dry like soiled laundry -- one might be tempted to think that every great leader this Country has ever had was morally perfect. Now that's a hoot if I ever heard one.
George Washington didn't have to worry about the down-and-dirty politicking of a 2-Party system. But if he had, I don't doubt for a minute that an awful lot of stalwart Christian patriots -- even those who had fought under him -- would have gone for his political jugular over the slave-owning "issue." After all, Washington was a plantation owner from a Southern state, and the abolition movement was already picking up some pretty hot steam even prior to the Revolutionary War. Nevertheless, he was an honest man, a great leader, a unifier, and tough as nails. He saw our Country through some of her most fractious days, and oversaw the writing and ratification of our Constitution.
During the first uprising against the new federal government, the Whiskey Rebellion of 1792, he called up the militias of several states, and commanded them himself to defend the Constitution. Even though he expressed many private misgivings about slavery, he never spoke out against the institution publicly, fearing that it would split the fragile new Nation. Keeping this view to himself, he wrote a provision into his will that would free his slaves with the passing of his wife. As to his religion, he very much supported absolute freedom of religion, refused to discriminate against people of other religions in hiring workers, and even though he did attend Church services with his wife, he was said not to have partaken of Communion.
I don't think anyone would have called George Washington a Bible-thumper or even an Evangelist. That doesn't seem to have stopped God from using him in a mighty way to help start a mighty Country and lead us through some very perilous times.
Thomas Jefferson, our third President, was another man who wasn't completely rendered ineffective by a rather significant human frailty. He, too, was a slave owner, and the first President to be publicly besieged by front-page newspaper stories calling him to account for his relationship with an African-American woman who shared his plantation home. Legally, the woman was a slave; in reality she was more like a common-law wife. Jefferson, living as a bachelor in Washington, never even bothered to answer the accusations. He just went right along being a truly great leader, making the Louisiana Purchase for us, dealing with the Barbary Pirates, and working out treaties in our best interests. Would any American now living even dare to say that his "flaw" kept him from being one of our best Presidents? I don't think so.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a heavy smoker, drinker and philanderer. Nevertheless, he managed to steer us through WWII, pragmatically -- and wisely -- allying with the Russians, even though he despised and distrusted them. Were there some losing propositions in that deal? Certainly. But without the Russians, there was little hope that we could have defeated the Axis powers. And if we had not won, we would have been saluting Hitler instead of dealing with Stalin. A choice that absolutely had to be made. Thank the Good Lord for FDR's realism.
If only the saintly Jimmy Carter had been more pragmatic in foreign affairs, we might not be in half the mess we are now. That's beside the point of this piece, but I think you get the drift. Idealism is a perfect fit for matters of faith, but a very dangerous, ill-fitting sandal when it comes to walking in world affairs and politics.
Every now and then a Party gets a candidate, willing to throw his hat in the Presidential ring, who is a perfect fit with the Party's platform of issues. President Ronald Reagan was in a class by himself. Enough said.
George W. Bush also appeared to some to be an almost perfect-fit conservative candidate. First Lady Laura Bush has been, I think, the finest ever. On the campaign trail, both Bushes were fervent and outspoken Christians, not of the social-gospel-socialist variety, but the pro-life, pro-traditional-family, prayer-in-the-schools, strong-defense, and individual-responsibility kind of Christians. The perfect fit for socially conservative Protestants, Catholics and Jews. Not a bad fit for little-government libertarians too. Republicans the Country over were pretty fired up, flocked to the polls, and persuaded a lot of independents to jump on the wagon too.
That was then; this is now.
And on September 11, 2001 the Islamo-Fascists started a war with us by preemptively striking at our Heart, and killing more than 3,000 innocent men and women -- our Countrymen. The deck has been shuffled; our hand isn't looking so good. And we need a new leader.
When I search my primary ballot early next year, I'm not looking for a perfect man. I'm not looking for the best husband or father. I'm not looking for the candidate who knows the most Bible verses by heart, or does the best rendition of "How Great Thou Art." And I'm certainly not interested in the guy with the best hair. I'm looking for the most pragmatic, straight-shooter in the bunch.
The 2008 Presidential campaign is quickly boiling down to a race between whoever gets the Republican nomination -- and a lying, conniving, socialist female in sheep's clothing, whose only real government experience is 8 years of riding shotgun against a constant string of scandals, and perpetually running for office herself. Hillary Clinton cannot be said to be a good woman with a flaw or two. Her entire life has been riddled by dishonesty and corruption. Her vision of government's role in our lives is very much in the idealistic vein of Jimmy Carter; she believes in the Nanny State and sees herself as the Nanny-in-Chief.
This is no time for splitting hairs over human frailties, public and private sins. This is a time for gut-level pragmatism.
When we social conservatives think Presidential candidates, we need to remember that a man doesn't have to be perfect in order for God to use him. Anyone remember King David and his affair with Bathsheba? King David even went so far as to send the lady's husband into a battle where he was almost certain to die -- and he did. I doubt God was pleased, but He certainly used King David to bring several decades of prosperity to Israel anyhow.
Polling companies make a bundle telling us and their bosses, the political candidates, what we think. But as I used to lecture my children, the only poll that counts in America is the one you manage to get yourself to on the actual election day. When we all get ourselves to those polls during our State's primaries, I hope and pray we remember that the one quality that may count the most in 2008 is knowing the enemy we face and being willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Because if we don't, our children and grandchildren may be "praying" five times a day with their little hand-held GPS's pointed towards Mecca. If The-War-Is-Lost Harry Reid, and We-Don't-Do-Torture Hillary Clinton, have their way, that is exactly what will happen. Our enemies are more organized, serious and focused on victory for it to be otherwise.