Column for 12 October, 2008

God and Man on Wall Street


“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.  Amen.”

                                                                                                            –Romans 1:25


            Of all the strange political marriages of convenience in recent history, by far the most bizarre and long-lasting has been the nearly thirty year long alliance between Christian evangelicals and the Republic Party.  Put aside for the moment that the relationship has been totally one-sided; while Christians have dutifully turned out in droves for the GOP (and were pretty much singularly responsible for George W. Bush’s re-election), their devotion has been unrequited.  Republicans have dominated the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court for the last quarter-century, and all evangelicals have to show for it is lip service.  Abortion and pornography remain legal, while religious indoctrination in the public schools is still barred and homosexuals are allowed to marry (or the equivalent) with impunity in at least a couple of states.  The one-sided nature of the relationship, though, is not what makes this the strangest of strange bedfellows.  No, what makes it bizarre is that the Republic Party stands for a philosophy that is completely and unalterably opposed to a basic fundamental tenet of Christianity.  Like dreaded secular humanism, modern Republicanism is based on the fallacious belief that, deep down, people are basically good.  If left to their own devices and not interfered with by nosy bureaucrats, they will do the right thing.  Christians know better.  Christians know, in the immortal words of my old history professor, that deep down people are no damn good.  Left to their own devices, people will lie, cheat, steal and murder.  That’s not cynicism; it’s original sin.  People are damned and just as they must have God for salvation, they must be governed by laws to prevent chaos and anarchy.  The Founders understood that; as James Madison put it, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”  Unfortunately, the GOP does not get it and applies their anti-Christian philosophy to governance.  As Marxists believe you can invest all power in a “dictatorship of the proletariat” because the proletariat will do the right thing, so the Republicans believe in investing all power in what Theodore Roosevelt described as the “malefactors of great wealth” because the magic hand of Adam Smith will ensure they do the right thing.  This is a form of social Darwinism, survival of the richest, the kind of blasphemous “wealth gospel” peddled by the GOP’s pet tele-Pharisees every Sunday.  God loves rich people; that’s why He made them rich.  As a direct result of this blasphemous philosophy, you and I and everyone else in America are now on the hook for $700 billion in welfare for Wall Street, to which the rational free-marketeers of AIG responded with a round of pedicures and rub-downs for all.  Only the heroic stand of Republican House freshmen made this monstrosity slightly less abominable than it was before.  At least the Republicans were standing on ideological principle; the Democrats, as usual, were motivated by fear, fear that Wall Street will refuse to finance their campaigns unless they vote to pay financial blackmail with our money.  As usual in modern politics, money talks.  If you want to know just how loud, note that both major presidential candidates supported the bailout, even though voting against it would have been a guaranteed vote-getter as the voters believe, rightly, that they are getting hosed.  Republicans love to rail against socialism (or communism; it’s all basically the same to them: any policy that benefits anyone who is not a major Republican donor), yet the bailout is the worst kind of socialism, socialism for the rich.  Privatized profit and socialized loss.  The wildest hyperbole of bailout opponents was not too severe.  This act really does strike at the very foundation of capitalism: you pays your money and you takes your chance.  That’s how it’s supposed to work.  Risk your money and you might lose everything, but then again you might hit the big time.  Only now, we have decided to reward rank stupidity and incompetence.  Banks loaned billions of dollars in home loans to people they knew were never ever going to be able to pay those loans off.  Then they compounded the stupidity by trading these insanely bad debts on a global scale, which is why the entire world economy is being drug down along with ours.  If you are a small business owner however, you are out of luck.  Only the spectacularly stupid—stupid to the tone of billions—need apply for such handouts.  The more I learn about Barack Obama, the more I am convinced that he is not the radical liberals yearn for and Republicans fear with an increasing apocalyptic dread—rather, his basic nature (if not his politics) seems to be cautious and conservative.  That makes me concerned that he is another NAFTA New Democrat in the mold of Bill Clinton, unable or unwilling to fight against a dominant political culture besotted with money and utterly beholden to the corporations that are making a killing by systematically looting the American economy.  Unlike most Democrats outside the South, however, he is comfortable discussing his faith.  If, as it seems increasingly likely, he becomes the next president, will his faith give him the strength to overcome the cult of Mammon?  For the sake of the country’s future, we must hope so.

Published in: on October 13, 2008 at 12:47 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. <>

    This is very true. I was just thinking the other day about how I know so many Republicans who are willing to turn a blind eye to the reckless deficit-spending of their supposedly “fiscally conservative” party, not to mention any other number of egregious and decidedly un-conservative abuses of power, as long as the party and/or their particular candidate claims to be “Pro-Life.” Which is all the more bizarre because very few elected Republicans, in spite of their blustery rhetoric, have really tried to ban abortion, and more than a few have publically admitted that they believe Roe v. Wade is and will remain the law of the land.


    I’m not so sure about this point. Some Republicans undoubtedly believe that, but many more subscribe to the same Christian view you are advocating here: that humans are inherently sinful and bad. Certainly that is the view of most cultural conservatives in the GOP, who believe that government must ban all manner of sinful temptations (drugs, pornography, homosexual marriages, etc.) What I think you are referring to is the economic view most Republicans espouse that people can be trusted to spend their money more wisely than the government can (ironic, considering the spending habits of this administration). This really goes back to the insights of both Adam Smith (i.e., that economic system is best which appeals to people’s inherent self-interest) and James Madison (i.e., that political system is best which acknowledges the self-interested nature of human beings and attempts to combat it with a government of dispersed and divided powers).

  2. Hmm… why don’t the cut-and-pastes I made from your original message show up in mine? Odd.

    This is the greatest outrage in the history of humanity!

  3. “This is the greatest outrage in the history of humanity!”

    The social contract is broken! And yes I agree that most Christian conservatives do believe in original sin and the fallen nature of man; they merely choose to ignore it in their support of a political party that pretends it doesn’t exist.

  4. Well yes, Christian conservatives choose to ignore a great MANY things in their blind, unquestioning support for the GOP. As long as a candidate says he is “pro-life,” he has carte blanche to do almost anything–no matter how destructive to our nation, its Consitution, or almost anything and anyone else, including the air we breathe and water we drink; in one perversely ironic word, actual LIFE–as long as it does not explicitly endorse abortion.

  5. In the immortal words of Barney Frank, Republicans only care about life from conception to birth.

  6. Cristoforo Columbo-lousy navigator, pirate, slaver, torturer, mass murderer & crook.

    …but a snappy dresser.

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