The Balkanization of American Politicians

Contrary to those who have something to sell, God is just as interested in politics as He is in  religion because good government serves the people who are then freer to serve God and each other as opposed to governments which strip their citizens of money and therefore opportunity. It is quite impossible to separate God and religion from politics and national policy because both are based on a belief system.

Since mid-20th century American politics became divided into small, only partially effective single groups, rendering much of the Democrat Party weak and undermining Republican ranks as well. To balkanize is to split into so many pieces as to make ineffective, i.e. to divide and conquer from wildly gerrymandered districts.

It began after World War II when the career ladder of the Democrat Party had been blocked for 16 years.  FDR’s refusal to leave office pushed talented people into the professions, science, industry, banking and law. But Roosevelt had then what we do not have now – a backlog of groups who had genuine interest in the nation’s good and were effective in their prewar day – the early labor unions, the social services groups, and demands for financial reform.  Like all too-long-in-office people he went beyond his own strengths and mandates to which we are now heirs.

The numbers and quality of candidates started to inch downward especially after Kennedy.  You can hardly name a President from that time until Reagan that was able to unify the country despite the legacy of World War II. Lyndon Johnson was a well-disguised crook, Jimmy Carter snoozed, Richard Nixon was paranoid, and nice-guy Gerald Ford finished last. Al these leaders did good things in their time but could not bring people together.

The same thing was happening in some states.  In North Carolina (which I know well) good leaders, and this state is dominated by its Legislature, were steadily replaced by mediocre and then poor ones, leaving the state’s finances in great turmoil.  The State’s FDR was Gov. Jim Hunt who served for 16 years and spent money as though it was other people’s, spawning multiple NGOs which slopped at the public trough and were little more than political action committees financed by state funds. The federal government is also enslaved to this cycle of tax-payer financed interest groups all demanding increases for every budget cycle.  They were legislative creations and only legislatures can get rid of them.

Clinton marked the nadir of talent for governance.  But he did what his base required – he gave the appearance of doing right by all these splinter groups but actually very little, only responding to a political crisis when he could no longer avoid it.  I think of Welfare reform.  Otherwise he did what the God of politics demands – stay in office.  Republicans in contrast have at least had some solid ideas to motivate them and hold them together.

Both parties are increasingly afraid of huge bills in this next election cycle.  Candidates side-step party unity to pick up the strings-attached cash from lobbyists who finance incumbents first.

Good government depends on creating consensus.  If everyone is out for himself demanding campaign cash no long term agreement will be possible and even those thin unions made in one Congress are likely to be mauled in the next one.  We have no one on the legislative scene to unify the country.  Without some major shifts in politics the first 10 years of the 21st century produced insecure leaders, tyrannical taxes, out-of-sight spending and self-absorbed leaders.

But America is moving Right. The newest voters are registering more as independents, avoiding partisanship if they can, and young people repeatedly endorse such old-timey notions as one-marriage, abstinence before marriage, patriotism and moderating of abortion laws. As a teacher I worked with teens and many of them were far more serious minded than the pampered Baby Boomers. Mexicans for all their being wooed by Democrats do not identify with black victimization.

Our military loves FOX news – that will shift even more power to cable news  – and they are even now returning home with facts about the true state of affairs in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen and our international role.  This influence cannot be overstated.  Today’s military leaders will be those who move into major leadership roles in government and industry. And most urgently, voters in 2008, 2010 and 2012 who have been lied to repeatedly will be hard to win back when the facts are finally exposed.  So there is hope.

The scriptures require us to pray for our country – for very selfish reasons.  If our neighbors are happy, healthy and prosperous, we are more likely to be as well, and the burdens of the poor are lessened. When there are enough jobs of a good variety for all kinds of talents and interests everyone benefits. You can look forward to a worldwide religious revival as prosperity inches through the world economy and people are optimistic again.

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