September 22, 2014

Senator Lugar’s Lament

Veteran Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar, known for his bipartisan spirit and statesmanship, lost his primary race Tuesday to a strident Tea Party candidate after a bitterly contested campaign.

In Lugar’s concession speech, he summarized his fears for a nation in which partisan groups at both ends of the spectrum are “dominating the political debate in our country,” and are working “to make it as difficult as possible for a legislator of either party to hold independent views or engage in constructive compromise.”

 

Too often bipartisanship is equated with centrism or deal cutting. Bipartisanship is not the opposite of principle. One can be very conservative or very liberal and still have a bipartisan mindset. Such a mindset acknowledges that the other party is also patriotic and may have some good ideas. It acknowledges that national unity is important, and that aggressive partisanship deepens cynicism, sharpens political vendettas, and depletes the national reserve of good will that is critical to our survival in hard times….

I don’t remember a time when so many topics have become politically unmentionable in one party or the other. Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change. Republican members are now expected to take pledges against any tax increases. For two consecutive Presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc. Similarly, most Democrats are constrained when talking about such issues as entitlement cuts, tort reform, and trade agreements. Our political system is losing its ability to even explore alternatives. If fealty to these pledges continues to expand, legislators may pledge their way into irrelevance. Voters will be electing a slate of inflexible positions rather than a leader. (emphasis mine)

By the way…

I think Senator Lugar’s words may have a message for the Church in our day as well.

Comments

  1. Another prince falls.

    And the republic continues to crumble…slowly…but surely.

    Thanks be to God that we don’t put our hope in this place.

  2. Mr. Poet says:

    I’m a staunch conservative and always vote Republican.

    (The recent time I considered voting Democrat, but could not because I did not live in the city where he was running for mayor, it was my state’s former governor, who was hailed as a fiscal conservative, who balanced the state’s budget without raising taxes years and years ago. But after he won the election, he…raised the city’s meal tax. Now I have to pay 11% tax on a meal in the city.)

    Where I work, I have a customer who is a staunch liberal, and he always votes Democrat (as far as I know). We love to bust each other’s chops about politics whenever we see each other. Just for fun. Nothing meanspirited. As time goes on, though, he is slowly coming around to my ultimate view, which is: it doesn’t really matter who he or I vote for. The pols tend to do what they want to do, no matter what their constituents want. Our country is going broke, borrowing more money faster than any tax scheme can ever hope to recover.

    It’s kind of sad, really. We trade jibes about how horrid the other side is, while really, we both know the country is screwed, and there’s nothing he or I can do about it. Well…we can pray…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It’s kind of sad, really. We trade jibes about how horrid the other side is, while really, we both know the country is screwed, and there’s nothing he or I can do about it

      At least until the first Coup.

      • Mr. Poet says:

        If Europe is any indicator, the victors of the first coup will want to spend even more money.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That’s what the second Coup is for.

          And the third…

          And the fourth…

          Until a Napoleon comes in to clean up the mess by decree, sword in one hand and mop in the other.

  3. Amen on too many levels to count,

  4. Careful here – bipartisanship often means that both parties agree on how to screw the people.

  5. In defense of inflexible positions, they do allow voters to know what they’re voting for. Too often, unprincipled politicians fail to deliver on their campaign promises, citing the exigencies of horse-trading (“bipartisanship” and “national unity” in Lugar’s parlance).

    • David L says:

      Absurd promises made during a campaign need to be repudiated. Decreasing taxes without cutting spending by similar amounts with a $15 trillion debt doesn’t work. Increasing taxes while increasing spending faster also doesn’t work. At some point the people need to be told they’ve elected politicians with no clothes and that the politicians have to visit a tailor even if they promised they would not do so.

  6. JoanieD says:

    Maine’s Senator Olympia Snowe has said similar things and has sadly chosen not to run again. I understand her position. I couldn’t work within the political system at all myself. I would get too frustrated. This two party system has some major problems, but I don’t have the answers either.

  7. Lugar didn’t even have a residence in Indiana. He had become a creature of D.C. He seems like a gentleman and who can say something ugly about an 80 year old man, but being “nice” and aged doesn’t entitle one to another term.

    The reason our politics at the national level are so vicious is because the issues are so divisive. We can poo-poo and lament the culture war all we want to on this site, but the reality is that when you start talking about changing a persons’ culture they will become very strident.

    For example, I’m a lower-middle class family (the pay for a school teacher and bi-vocational priest is not high). I sometimes see the point in some (a few) Democrat economic policies and heck, after living in a state that has been ran by Republicans for several terms and our public schools suffering due to cut after cut and furlough days, and the Republicans taking our tenure rights, I might be willing to vote for a Democrat, but…..

    Democrats at the national level are insane. I don’t want to do anyting that might advance their radical agenda, and the reality of it is that strong state Parties can help national candidates. So if I vote for a Democratic State Senator or Rep, that state Democratic Party get’s stronger and the next time a national election rolls around that group will be better able to help whatever pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-illegal immigration candidate they chose to run.

    • Josh in FW says:

      You’re the imonk that usually makes the political point that I want to make, but in a more articulate manner. I think incumbency was as much (or more) of an issue than ideology in this particular election. I’m often perplexed about why the Dem party embraces so many extreme social positions.

      • Josh,

        I know that if the Dem party would moderate some of their extreme social positions they would get a lot of support from a lot of friends of mine.

        I don’t know what part of the country you live in, but around here (Georgia) the Dem party has fallen so fast and so far that many times they will not even field candidates in local elections. And this is an area where there used to be nothing but Dems.

        If I was not in the ministry I’ve often thougth I might give some effort to running as a very conservative local Democrat. Alas, church planters should not be delving into politics (I’ve even stopped writing letters to the editor which I did often years back).

        • Donalbain says:

          Only in America could the Democrats be described as “extreme”

          • If that is true then I pray I never have to live anywhere else:)

          • David L says:

            Extreme to me is when a group of like thinkers making up 30% or less of the population claims to have the answer for everyone. Just now this applies to both side in my opinion. And the vote are flipping based on which extreme has teed off the middle the most just before the vote.

        • David Cornwell says:

          “Our age knows nothing but reaction, and leaps from one extreme to another.”
          Reinhold Niebuhr

        • Josh in FW says:

          FW = Fort Worth, TX

          Politically I consider myself a moderate, but then I meet someone from out of State and they quickly tell me that I’m far right which leaves me confused because I no longer have a way to describe the people I consider far right.

          • David L says:

            Texas is indeed a different kind of place. :)

            Of this I know a bit. Grew up in KY. Lived in PA, CT, and NC with business travel all over. But my wife’s sister has lived there for over 30 years and my wife commutes to Dallas during the week for work. From NC. :)

  8. CM, I hear what you are saying, but I am not sure that lack of cooperation between the parties is such a bad thing.

    I can only speak from my own perspective (like everyone else!) but IMHO the split started in the 1960′s with the advent of LBJ’s “Great Society”. In an effort to assist the poor and sick (a worthy cause), the snowball ran downhill and started to replace assistance with entitlement. This, combined with the other social shake-ups of the 60′s and early 70′s brought us to a “brave new world” of fatherless families, a focus on “ME-ME-ME”, and liberation theology. By the time Roe-v-Wade was decided, many Americans no longer recognized their own country, and the communal values seemed to be on the dung-heap of “modern” America.

    So, hard-working Democrats with conservative values drifted away, while the Dem Leadership embraced more and more pathology and called it “diversity”. That soon left the Dem party with wealthy liberals with lots of guilt, union workers, and those who had realized that they could (as De Tocqueville predicted) vote themselves money from the public purse. Social support from the government lacked the compassion, insight, and discernment that support and charity from churches and civic organizations provided in their largess.

    Therefore, the GOP, long painted as the party of the rich (ironic when you think about the entertainers and their money who are 99% Democrats today…..and many who inherited all their wealth, such as the Kennedy’s) found itself the voice of middle America. People who felt that they had “played by the rules” of education, marriage, childbearing, and civic duty felt that they had been abandoned by the Dem’s……so they went to the only other political party.

    The economic downturn, combined with the growing chasm between middle America and Democrat leadership has recently reached critical mass. I am only one of millions who are concerned about the future of this country and the primacy of the Constitution. I see basic (and non-relgious) American ideas such as hard work, caring freely for one’s neighbor (but not the deliberatly slothful), civic pride, and the primacy of the family being challenged in more and more perverse ways by the Dem’s today.

    So of COURSE I want those I elect to oppose those ideas and laws that go counter to these concepts. Add in the recent attempt to strip away religous freedoms in favor of the state, and sparks will fly. There are just too many moral issues that cannot be compromized on…starting with the value of human life and liverty.

    • Pattie, I would say (and this is probably all I will say on this post) that the problem is not Republican or Democrat. The problem is Washington. All you have to do is look at what happened when “conservative” President Bush got the chance to govern with a Republican majority. Spend, spend, spend. Bush created the largest government bureaucracy ever — Homeland Security — never vetoed a single spending bill, deeply cut government revenues at the same time, did not ask Americans to sacrifice one iota to pay for going to war, and presided over a financial collapse which he himself tried to fix with government bailouts. Even my father, a staunch Republican, was ready to call for his impeachment, and President Obama was elected by one of the largest majorities ever.

      I wish I knew what the answers are.

      I do know that here in Indiana, people are fed up enough to vote for a guy in the Republican primary with no experience and a poor record of fiscal responsibility over a senator who has been a proven conservative and has benefited our state immensely with jobs and investment, especially in our public universities, just because he could shout his “conservative” ideas louder and besmirch the record of a man who has been one of our greatest statesmen. No matter who gets elected from Indiana now, we’ll be playing an untested, naive rookie, rather than a wise voice of reason and effectiveness.

      I certainly don’t think those kinds of politics are the answer either.

      Also, one of my points no one has picked up on yet, is that I fear this same spirit has infected our churches. We are attached to ideas not people, and when our ideas aren’t represented perfectly, we cast out good and capable leaders or leave and go to another church because younger, more strident voices can shout louder. Jesus never said, “Love your ideas with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your values as yourself.” I can handle having convictions. What I can’t accept is despising others with different ideas. I don’t believe in playing “hardball,” no matter what the venue.

      • I agree CM. Living here in DC is like living in a bubble. I know many people hurting in other parts of the country and know many people who moved here to avoid the economic difficulties of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, etc…

        Washington is too polemic. And yet the problem is with leadership, I do know a number of government employees through friendships who I admire and respect. They are not the problem either. It’s frustrating to watch one party demonize civil service to score brownie points with some constituincy in Texas.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Living here in DC is like living in a bubble.

          Is that anything like living in the Megachurch Pastor’s bubble?

          Or the Christianese Culture bubble?

        • What’s the definition of Wash. D.C.? 63 sq. miles surronded by reality or something like that?

          T

      • Radagast says:

        I’d also say the problem is media, twisting and inflaming on both sides of the politcal aisle. Case in point – activities of political candidates in their high school years and how we can judge their integrity from these early experiences and events. Poppycock! I don’t care what pranks Romney pulled off in his youth, I don’t care if Obama inhaled frequently. Heck, if anyone judged me on my resume of activities during that time period they would come to a vastly different conclusion of who I am as opposed to someone who looked at me over even the last 20 years.

        Most of us are not who we were in high school … maybe if journalists went back to actually reporting news…

    • Josh in FW says:

      well said

  9. Yup….I hear it. The rabid Tea Partier who defeated Lugar can almost be a Hyper-Calvinist in so many ways.

    I was kind of thinking about this when I was eating breakfast this morning. Funny you posted this… Where can one turn….? Assuming one can work through their doubts…what are the options?

    1. Maybe this is just my jaded thinking after a long time of reading John Piper and other reformed folk. But you have the mainstreams which are compromised, watered down who in some cases really stand for nothing.
    2. You have the Catholic…which I grew up with and can relate though I have a few theological concerns.
    3. You have the Liturgical, and other orthodox which to me seems almost like an acquired taste (not trying to be offensive here…but its kind of like drinking Pabst)
    4. You have evangelicalism which is subject to fads, prosperity theology and the “name it and claim it” crowd. (sigh….)
    5. Then you have your Hyper-Calvinists…who because of their “Islamic” leanings will tie, and sacrifice you on the altar of “doctrine” while they scream “Allah Akbar”. This is after you have signed a membership covenant, be John Piper/Mark Driscoll’s lap dog and worship the ALMIGHTY ESV as every other Bible version is inferior.

    So where does one go? Why do we have to live in an age of extremes? Where is a middle ground? Why does Christianity have to struggle with polar extremes? (scratches head…)

  10. Everything will be better after this next election cycle…
    Right…
    Way back when I turned 18 and was an idealistic young American, I voted Republican. Of course I was blinded by the ignorance of youth. Then Bill Clinton got into office, Newt Gingrich became speaker of the House, and it seemed that all the Republicans were doing was belly aching and doing everything possible to get Clinton out of the White House. (Sound familiar?)
    So, I’ve stopped voting for that party because of its particular mean-spirited view of everyone that doesn’t agree with them. To me, this was exacerbated by the “moral majority” where Christianity (or that particular flavor) seemed became all about condemnation of those that didn’t share their views and didn’t voted for the party of their choice. Mind you, I was a new Christian at that time and those years have influenced my view of organized religion.
    I’m still recovering.
    I think our Founding Fathers meant well when they set up our republic form of government but, as we have seen, the republic has been manipulated to the point where democracy is a sham. Our participation in the way our country is run has become an illusion.
    Both sides are fighting to make the government a one party system. When that happens, we all lose.
    Where’s a big asteroid when you need it?

    • humanslug says:

      I don’t know about a big asteroid, but I am expecting Caesar to show his face any day now, tossing out coins and free bread to the masses and enforcing political unity with an iron fist.

      • That will probably happen before we get hit with a extinction event sized rock from space.

      • panem et circuses

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I keep hearing more and more often about how a dictator would be the best thing for this country — “Then we’ll have someone Who Gets Things Done!”

        Some of them are looking forward to the Coup.

  11. cermak_rd says:

    I am a Dem. Always have been. I mean demographically I’m a woman, who is Jewish, and a convert to it at that, who resides in Cook County. There may be a Republican or two who have those characteristics, but I’m not her.

    However, I tend to welcome the Blue Dogs in my party if they’re from districts where the median voter is more conservative. I don’t expect Democrats from non-metropolitan areas to be all that liberal. OTOH, I do expect for the Rep to represent the median voter, so a Blue Dog in a metropolitan area is kind of out of place and a liberal in West Virginia is out of place.

    Horse trading is important to the political process. If I as a Rep from an agricultural state want something, and my distinguished colleague from an urban area wants something else, then we should be able to debate and hammer something out that pleases us both. If we can’t, because we’re both inflexible curmudgeons, and if the Leg branch starts getting full of inflexible curmudgeons then over time things start to break down legislatively, and, unfortunately, when the Leg doesn’t work, the Presidency becomes all critical and can start to resemble a monarchy as s/he tries desperately to make things work by bypassing the non-functional piece.

  12. Our system of government is built on compromise. It isn’t always pretty (like the 3/5 Compromise prior to the Civil War) but it is how things have always operated. In the United States, if you want to get things done politically, you must compromise or you must find a way to dominate. The first option may be painful, but the final option is terrifying . . . no matter who wins. From those who would rule the world, O Lord, save us!!

    The Scripture is filled with stories of unyeilding refusals to compromise. We admire the courage of Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego for their refusal to bow to King Nebuchadnezzar’s image. Peter and John inform the council that they must obey God rather than men. But there are also stories that go beyond compromise to the remarkable act of yielding of control. The controversy of the Hebrew and Grecian widows in Acts by giving total control of the distribution to men with Greek names. Lot was given first choice of land by his senior, Abraham.
    It would seem that in the family of faith, utter steadfastness is required at times, compromise at other tmes, and a forfeiture of all control on other occassions. I suppose we need wisdom to know when to apply which virtue.

    • Oops! The controversy of the Hebrew and Grecian widows in Acts — is solved — by giving total control of the distribution to men with Greek names.

  13. Richard Hershberger says:

    I am left wondering who are the unnamed liberals unwilling to compromise. Such liberals exist, of course. They were the ones advancing the cause of war in the Middle East by supporting Ralph Nader. But this faction doesn’t hold any significant power within the Democratic Party today.

    • Come to California, and try to negotiate a public employee pension system that the state can afford.

    • David L says:

      They decry an R budget in the house but refuse to put forward one themselves. Of course if they were in the majority there they’d put forward a budget that the R’s would decry while themselves refusing to put forward any alternatives.

      After the 2008 elections Pelosi basically said she had a mandate to do liberal things and no one was going to stop her or the D’s from doing what they wanted. So in 2010 we switched. And will likely switch again soon. Maybe not in 2012 as the stats are against it but soon. And with each switch the winner declares a mandate and the looser refuses to talk to them.

      I personally feel a lot of this started in 94 with Newt’s big win. And I don’t specifically blame him on this (but he does do so much that makes me grind my teeth). Since the 30s through 94 the D’s had a majority in the House except for 2 years. Compromise consisted of recruiting enough R’s to replace recalcitrant D’s to pass a bill or R’s jumping on an inevitable train they could agree to ride on. Neither party had any institutional knowledge of how to operate in a situation where D’s were not in charge. And then the universe changed in 94. (Of course the D’s had gotten so used to being in power they eventually got caught with their pants down.) The D’s then got their noses out of joint because no one had to listen to them while the R’s got revenge for decades of slights. All at once. And now that seems to be the permanent mold. And we will not go back to the way things were as many (most?) of those southern conservative D’s that made that history possible are now R’s. It is no longer true that you have to register as a D to have a vote in local elections in the south as it still was when I started voting in 72. Back then there was usually no R even running except for governor or national offices. Things have now changed so much that as one commenter mentioned there are often no D’s even running for local offices.

      And why did this occur. One big reason is the civil war. It only took 130 years for the south to get over that Lincoln was an R and decide to vote differently every now an again.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        “They decry an R budget in the house but refuse to put forward one themselves.”

        It’s all in the details. Fortunately, in this case the detail is pretty simple: who “they” are. There is a budgetary process laid out by statute. You can read a description of the process here: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=155. The first step is the President’s budget request, which is due in early February. This request was submitted in a timely fashion. You can read about it, or if you are truly masochistic you can read it verbatim, here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget. This budget has not, of course, been adopted by Congress. So who is this “they” that have a responsibility to put forward a different budget? No one, of course. The Democratic proposal was made months ago. The idea that those nefarious Democrats are stalling by not proposing a budget is an outright lie. You have been the victim of bearers of false witness.

        • David L says:

          Give me a break. My point is the house passed a budget. And yes it wasn’t O’s. The house rarely ever passes the budget submitted by the Pres. So that’s not new. But the D’s decry the budget passed by the R but refuse to specify how to change it to make it better except in nebulous terms.

          But this isn’t about how the R’s and/or D’s are right and/or wrong in this case. Because both parties do the same thing. It’s just the roles they play in the nonsense depends on which one is in the majority and which in the minority.

          Both are great a telling everyone how wrong the other guys stuff is why doing their best to avoid putting out a concrete alternative. Either as a press release or proposed legislation.

          Continuing resolutions, and fights over them, on budget issues have been around for decades. To blame the R’s in the house is ignoring history. And fairly recent history at that.

  14. Phil M. says:

    This reminds me of a bit from the Simpsons from like 18 years ago or something in which they talking about replacing DJs at a radio station with a machine:

    Boss: This is the DJ 3000. It plays CDs automatically, and it has three distinct varieties of inane chatter [presses a button]
    DJ 3000: [stilted] Hey, hey. How about that weather out there?
    Woah! _That_ was the caller from hell.
    Well, hot dog! We have a wiener.
    Bill: Man, that thing’s great!
    Marty: _Don’t_ praise the machine!
    Boss: If you don’t get that kid an elephant by tomorrow, the DJ 3000 gets y
    our job. [Marty punches it]
    DJ 3000: Those clowns in congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns.
    Bill: [laughs] How does it keep up with the news like that?

    I’m not saying the current congress isn’t more partisan than previous ones, but these things are somewhat cyclical. One party gets power, over-reaches, the people don’t like it, and toss them out. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

    • Agreed. In the past Congressman Brooks beat Senator Sumner with a cane in the Senate chamber over a speech he gave. But people forget about how contentions American politics have always been. For years I have been hearing about the “unprecedented” level of partisanship in politics today. When I hear that it always reminds me of the line in the Princess Bride where Vizzini keeps using the word “inconceivable” to describe things that are happening right in front of him until final Inigo says, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” The current Congress may be a little more partisan than other recent Congresses, but in the long view this is nothing new at all.

  15. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Voters will be electing a slate of inflexible positions rather than a leader.

    It’s called PURITY OF IDEOLOGY.

    And it’s Normal when you have an Idealist generation (like the Baby Boomers) in ascendance in the halls of Power. The Republique of Perfect Virtue (and Pure Ideology) once more beckons on the horizon, once all the Heretics and Infidels are crushed. What could possibly go wrong? (Except that EVERY Idealist faction is thinking the same thing…)

    • Ah yes, the Age of Aquarius, and all of THAT rubbish! I happen to be a former member of that group and I have to say that what we are seeing is BOTH sides trying to hew to a “Utopian” goal for the country, although it is the left side of the equation that I fear most, the side that would proscribe my personal behavior, health and choice of activities. This side is ruled my emotions, the kind that say “How can we better mankind, how can we change their hearts so that we can all be as one?”. They also believe that their intentions are good because they “mean well”.

      Lord, please save of from Utopians, whoever they may be, and help us usher in your Kingdom rather than the counterfeit kingdom of man. Amen!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Here’s a comment I made last February, based on the Strauss-Howe cycle of generational attitudes in American history:

        Problem is, the way the generations are arranged right now with an Idealist Generation (Baby Boomers) ascendant, any revolution WILL resemble the French more than the American. Idealist gens are into Purity of Ideology and Eyes constantly gazing towards The Perfect Utopia beckoning on the horizon. Unfortunately, they are not into the same Ideologies (only the Perfect Purity of their own), so they usually split into factions going at each other’s throats To The Death For The Cause. This lasts until the Reactive Generation below them (the Gen-Xers) ages to the point they come into enough power and influence to act as damper rods in the melting-down core. But for now, The Republique of Perfect Virtue beckons, and the Perfect Utopian Omelet justifies breaking more and more eggs. Whether that Perfect Utopia is the Perfect Socialist State or a Reconstructed CHRISTIAN America.

        • Sounds like William Strauss’s book, Generations, which back in the 1980′s reviewed generational arrangements (he called them cohorts) throughout American history. He noted that whenever the cohort was arranged in a certain pattern, with an ideal generation in leadership, we have had national crises. He was anticipating trouble when the Boomers came to power.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            That’s where I first heard the idea. According to the Strauss-Howe Cycle, right now is the worst time to have a major crisis — with the present generational cohort (Idealists/Baby Boomers dominant), we’re looking at a French Revolution or American Civil War situation — Our Ideology prevails no matter what the body count. If it holds off until after 2020, the Reactive/Gen-Xers will have risen enough to provide the damper rods between the melting-down Idealist factions and we’ll have a World War Two Zeitgeist — the best possible cohort for weathering a major crisis and actually coming out stronger. Starting around 2020.

            For the purposes of their study, Strauss & Howe defined a generation as 22 years. Taking that as a figure, 2012 should have a similar Zeitgeist as 1924 (Roaring Twenties, five years before the Great Depression cut loose) or 1858 (between Dred Scott & Harpers’ Ferry, just before the American Civil War went down). Factor in the “blur”, and we’re somewhere between 1914 and 1934 — or 1853 and 1863

      • Suzanne says:

        Funny, I now fear the right way more than the left. I guess a bout of unemployment in middle age will do that when you see CEOs that make multi-millions praised as gods of capitalism and you wonder how you will ever save enough to retire since your earnings have just been cut in half. All the while those on the right are calling you lazy for not getting a job and trying to cut any unemployment you have out from under you. And then you see the likes of Michelle Bachmann moan and groan about the evils of socialized medicine and the wrongness of gay marriage only to discover that she doesn’t have a problem being a citizen of a country that has government run healthcare and recognizes same sex partnerships.

        I’m moving left.

  16. When I was younger, I can remember sneering at old people who held inflexible positions because of the “slippery slope” theory: give ‘em an inch, and they’ll take a mile. I thought they were making it all up in their heads.
    This year will mark my 9th presidential election, and I’ve seen the slippery slope happen again and again. I think that the polarization and charges of inflexibility against conservatives (in politics and church) are attempts to place a line in the sand.
    Further, those in recent decades who’ve gained from the slippery slope know that it can work in the other direction too, so they know (from the defeats of their opponents) how important it is to not allow compromise.

  17. David Cornwell says:

    So-called “standing on principle” really means a person has never really learned how to think things through. And, instead of thinking, rote memorization comes spouting of the mouth (not the brain). Compromise is the true art of governing. That’s what “balance” in government means. People like Lugar, while far from perfect, understand this. Perfection can never happen because we as human beings are basically flawed. We are self concerned, and greedy. Then we wrap a certain kind of political theory around those flaws, and call it principle. This set of belief mostly protects our own position.

    Lugar and other old fashioned Republicans are going down the tubes rather quickly. Very few of our present crop ever vote against the “leadership.” One feels they might strain the brain by doing so. Men and women who led from another kind of principle– Eisenhower, Ford, the first Bush, Rockefeller, and many more– were different kind of people. They could work with the other party in control of Congress or opposition. For the most part they did not try to ram the other guys. And it also worked the other way around. Yet we made great progress, on many fronts, with these people running our country. None of these men or women were ideological purists. But they worked within the constraints of limits mandated by the separation of powers.

    Democracy is messy. It isn’t pure in any form. It is tainted with self interest, greed, pride, and power. At its’s best it is capable of doing good things for the people. But the good that is achieved is always tainted and stained. It is never pure white. And the purist of tea is probably poison.

    • “Democracy is the worst system of governance…except for all the others.”

      (paraphrase of W.C.)

      I grew up in Phoenix, AZ as a Cactus Conservative. I voted the first time as an 18 yr. old (in the first batch of 18 yr old voters) for Tricky Dick. I began to regret it after having to register with Selective Service. I haven’t voted for a Rep. presidential candidate since King George Bush I, and I hadn’t voted for a Dem. president until O ran–and that I did out of disgust for the 8 yrs. of the second King George, the arrogance of Reps. and because O could actually speak in complete sentences.

      In this two party system to vote for either is a vote for The Establishment. So, pick your flavor and enjoy.

      T

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      So-called “standing on principle” really means a person has never really learned how to think things through. And, instead of thinking, rote memorization comes spouting of the mouth (not the brain).

      Duckspeak. When the Party Line is recited without engaging any neuron above the brainstem. Stimulus –> Response.

      doubleplusgoodthink INGSOC, doubleplusduckspeak INGSOC.

  18. Then the issue is, in the words of Keith Drury, which beliefs do we write in pencil (knowing they may be erased), which do we write in pen, and which do we write in blood (willing to die for)?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I mean demographically I’m a woman, who is Jewish, and a convert to it at that, who resides in Cook County.

      Cook County is Chicago, isn’t it? Where they vote the graveyards?

      EVERYBODY in Cook County becomes straight-ticket Daley Dem after they die.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      …and which do we write in blood (willing to die for)?

      Young Earth Creationism and Pre-Trib Secret Rapture?

      • I would hope that when people really consider their essential beliefs, those two would not fall into the blood section.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Check the “Creation Wars” and “Eschatology” threads on this post.

          All too often, they DO.

        • David L says:

          So would I. But more and more churches are making these points a requirement. Or at least a requirement that you not publicly talk against them.

  19. Caustic, toxic and impotent; God forbid that atmosphere gains the lead in our churches. I can’t watch 30 seconds of Fox News and I’m a republican. If that atmosphere takes strong root in my church I’ll fight it tooth and nail and if unsuccessful I’ll be sure not to let the door hit me on the way out.

  20. Mike, to your point about leadership in church: when Paul was battling for the hearts and minds of the Corinthians (2 Cor. 10-13), he appealed to them not merely on the basis of his theological positions, but on the personal cost of the investment he had made in their lives.
    Toward the end of Paul’s life, his opponents did him great harm, and all had deserted him, but the Lord stood by him and gave him strength to proclaim the gospel (1 Tim. 3:9-18). He sounds like a loser in the world’s eyes, but with the benefit of hindsight, we can see how this kind of servant leadership played out in the course of church history.

  21. Mr. Poet says:

    If you want to parallel government leadership with church leadership, then consider taxation and church budgets. When times are good, churches tell us to give more because we can afford it. When times are bad, churches tell us we need to give more, now more than ever, because the need is greater than it ever was!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And some even invoke Ananias & Sapphira, i.e. “TITHE! TITHE! TITHE! OR GOD WILL KILL YOU!”

  22. Clay Knick says:

    Lugar is an adult. Many in Congress are not.

    Could the same be said for the Church? Are people spiritually mature enough to listen to our brothers & sisters and work along with them despite our differences? Right now I don’t think so. It is all or nothing for many on the left and the right.

  23. Ichabod says:

    This week we’ve seen a former candidate for the Republican nomination blithely announce she became a dual Swiss citizen. And the next day, announce she no longer wanted to be one. And by the way, this was a woman biblically forbidden to act as head of her home, or impose her will over men in church. But complementarians were absolutely giddy with excitement over her possibility as Wife-in-Chief. And the other day, an unwed mother, slit-skirt dancing celebrity, and highly-paid lecturer on the morals of pre-marital abstinence scolded President Obama for wrecking thousands of years of thinking about marriage. Shortly before those episodes we saw Dr. Dobson wetting himself over a Santorum presidency. Now a half century ago, Billy Graham, his father-in-law L. Nelson Bell and Harold J. Ockenga did everything possible to let evangelicals know John F. Kennedy’s loyalty to the Pontiff was a menace to American democracy. Just read a Christianity Today from back then. And now there’s the Mormon. There seems to be plenty of compromise/accomodation here in these few examples – perhaps not so much political as religious. In so many words, hypocrisy. Depending on the biblical ambiguity or clarity needed in a given situation, evangelicals can either relativize the absolute or absolutize the relative. So I don’t see ‘evangelicals’ as the Republican Party at prayer so much as having fealty to the deeper ideology of the United States of Jesus and using Realpolitik to grasp it. I’d call that ideology out as Constantinianism.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Welcome to South Park, everybody.

      P.S. Ichabod, I am sick of eight-syllable words ending in “-ism”.

      After a while, they all sound like Marxspeak, duckspeak rhythm and all: “Reactionary Capitalist-Imperialist Bourgeoise falling before The Proletariat in the Inevitable Marxist-Leninist Dialectic of History…”

  24. CM: The problem is Washington.

    I think the problem is rather bigger than that, as your trailing remark about the church suggests. The Splitters are everywhere driving out the Lumpers. We choose not to remember that all are created in God’s image, and therefore our differences are trivial compared with our similarities. It used to be “I against my brother; my brother and I against the neighbors; (etc)”, but it’s getting to where we can’t get past “I against my brother”, no holds barred.

    I don’t know where it started, but ironically perhaps it’s being fueled by so fantastically improved communication, such as this marvelous internet thing. All the intermediate boundaries are broken down and there’s nothing between individuals and everything; total individuality and complete homogenization. Toynbee said that once an empire conquers its entire world, the end is near.

    Not a coup; disintegration.

  25. The gridlock of the last 4 years was intentional, decided upon as a tactic by one party (Lugar’s). And it’s a big reason why there’s so much uncertainty, which in turn makes for higher risk, which in turn causes small/medium companies to hesitate in hiring, which extends the recession. A decision has to be made to say, ‘No, we won’t make the country wait and suffer until we’re in charge; we won’t insist on everything our way.’

    America’s too important for this.

    • David L says:

      I’m sorry but both parties have a “my way or the highway” attitude just now.

      • humanslug says:

        Yes, and both parties are acting a lot like a married couple going through a nasty divorce but still living in the same house. Both seem to be more interested in spiting or inflicting a wound or claiming even the most petty victory over the other than they are in moving the country in a positive direction. And both are dead set on grabbing the whole tamale — house, cars, savings, exclusive custody of the kids — at any cost and through any means necessary.
        All the while, we — the disillusioned and disenfranchised middle children of America — are pretending to sleep with our hands over our ears and our pillows over our heads, wishing real hard that we could trade in our parents for some more agreeable couple.

  26. Several prominent scholars and politicians have recently made the same point as Lugar, including ourillustrious former governator Schwarzenegger. The Republican tent is definitely getting small. Statesmen are being replaced with ideologues and the nation will not be well served by it.

    Evantelicalism tracks with this trend politically also, being overwhelmingly conservative/republican. But some sectors extend the small tent to issues of Christian doctrine and practice.These factors are a big part of why I’m not going to church at the moment. I’m socially and politically relatively liberal while being theologically and ethically centrist to conservative, and there’s no place for that, or even for reasoned conversation about it and other viewpoings, in the vast majority of churches that I can access locally.

  27. humanslug says:

    Whether in politics or religion, maintaining a base of extreme views requires intentionally sifting and limiting information — basically keeping the faults and shortcomings of your side obscured while shining a white hot spotlight on everything bad about the other side. It also requires controlling the conversation, so as to keep people’s emotions inflamed and their thoughts running along predictable paths. What bothers me most is that it requires the intentional distortion of reality, a value system that regards a narrow set of interests as more important than the whole. and a belief system in which fact and truth are either embraced or disregarded depending on who stands to gain and who stands to lose.
    It all boils down to specific groups or parties working overtime to recreate reality in the image of their own opinions, likes, dislikes, and interests.

  28. Jack Heron says:

    It’s axis thinking again – remember when we were talking a couple of weeks ago about ‘slippery slopes’? To some people, only the extremes are seen as stable – every inch towards the “opposite position” is inevitably going to lead to embracing it. I put “opposite position” in quotation marks because its inherent assumption regarding one spectrum of opinions is totally absurd.

    It’s an old saw (though entirely true to a certain extent) that some places are, on the whole, so far to the left or right of other places that what is left-wing in one is right-wing in another. But it’s also true that Position A might be simultaneously *both* more right and left wing in Country X than in Country Y because of the issues being seen entirely differently. I, for instance, know British conservatives who consider President Obama both too left-wing and too right-wing for their taste. Further, there are whole new axes, planes and regions of opinion than ‘left’ and ‘right’ – I can’t speak for America (though no doubt you have your own local examples), but ‘Eurosceptic vs. Europhile’, ‘Devolution vs. Centralism’, ‘Pro-Business Conservative vs. Anti-Corporate Conservative’ are some that jump to mind here. They have their own particular tendencies towards one wing or another, but there’s still very much more to it that Us Versus Them.

  29. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Something I recently noticed about Dante’s Inferno:

    When Dante makes his trek through Hell, the only thing the damned he recognizes ever want to talk to him about is POLITICS, POLITICS, POLITICS. All the Juicy Political Gossip of Renaissance Italian City-States and nothing else.

    I think there’s a lesson in that.

  30. I once heard a Blue Dog Democrat member of Congress from Texas referring to “bipartisanship”:

    “There are only two things you find in the middle of the road – dead skunks and yellow stripes.”