How to make political choices this year

Uh oh, here they come. Are you ready?

 

The two major political party conventions are about to begin.

 

The Democrats go first this time, from August 17 to 20. Then the Republicans follow from August 24 to 27.

 

You’ve been warned. What a great way to ruin most of two weeks…

 

If the Virus That Shall Not Be Named hasn’t gotten you down, and then somehow the protests and periodic violence in cities across America doesn’t have you questioning society today, the two major party conventions may certainly make you rip off your mask and yell in frustration. But don’t do that within six feet…

 

And this year’s conventions will be like none other before them – could that somehow be a GOOD thing?

 

No big gatherings of course, they’ll mainly be all virtual. Most everything online for safety. How the parties will actually conduct their official business will be interesting.

 

You remember this, yes? To officially choose a candidate for President the roll call goes around a cavernous indoor facility state by state, usually in alphabetical order. And someone who is overexcited or perhaps beforehand visited a watering hole down the street will grab the microphone for their state and blare out something like…

 

“The great state of Pennsylvania, home to the Liberty Bell and the cradle of independence, of William Penn and Ben Franklin, who turned the tide of the Civil War at the Battle of Gettysburg, who offers the oldest brewery in America and the best chocolate from Hershey, from the mighty three rivers of western PA to the port of Philadelphia and every town in-between, pledges ALL of its votes to that great American, the lion of the nation, the champion of democracy, the defender of freedom, the supporter of the common man and woman everywhere, and we love him so dearly, the next President of the United States…….JOHN DOE!”

 

And that’s followed by raucous applause and cheers, although by the time the call gets to the letter P and Pennsylvania a lot of the air has left the balloon, the cheers are pretty ragged and many delegates are probably on their way back to the watering hole.

 

Actually without a crowd this year it may be interesting. Perhaps the two parties will do like a lot of sports leagues have done without actual crowds – piping in fake crowd noise to make it SEEM like a crowd is there. Anything to spice up television.

 

But watch out – when the audio guy misses his cue and there’s several seconds of dead silence before the “crowd” yells and cheers…

 

It’s going to be a long two weeks.

 

And for what? We already know who the Presidential choices will be. We should know their vice presidential selections before the hoopla even starts. The so-called platforms for each party will be known beforehand, no real suspense there either.

 

And the big Presidential nominating speech at the end? It’s always been one line delivered, then 30 seconds of cheering, then another line, then another 30 seconds of cheering, et al. Probably a 10 minute speech becomes a 60 minute marathon. Yawwwwnnnn…

 

All this to determine who will fight to be the next authority figure in American life.

 

It’s interesting what determines who controls authority in any particular group. Is it fame? Is it money? Is it the loudest voice? The one who makes the most promises? Doles out the most favors? Flexes their political party muscles? Makes the most threats, overt or otherwise? Gets the most laughs or makes more fun of the opponent?

 

Is THAT leadership?

 

These souls, some of them rather pompous or self serving, on both sides of the political aisle, could surely learn some things from the Bible on the ideas of authority and leadership…

 

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:42-45 NIV

 

Or…

 

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

 

Are there ANY leaders out there like that anymore? At any level of government?

 

You don’t hear the term “public servant” anymore in normal discourse. Instead we see them whisked away in limousines, raking in big money from special interest groups, making loud speeches in person or on TV or online, people fawning over them for autographs, and these days using social media to ridicule their opponent with always a huge number of obnoxious sycophants ready with their likes, cheers and rants.

 

A rather depressing year gets a little more depressing.

 

But there is hope…

 

Christ’s famous Sermon on the Mount is detailed in Matthew. Jesus preached to thousands that day, thousands looking for true leadership, guidance to live their lives, some beacon of belief for the future.

 

The last story that Jesus told the crowd is one we all know…and it’s one that many vote seeking politicians would be wise to heed…

 

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27 NIV

 

There will be a lot of political houses that will fall with a great crash in about three months. We won’t make predictions here, that’s not our place. But in the tumult that is 2020, how many so-called leaders will even take the time to build their political house on a rock, serving the people, refraining from name calling attacks and speaking from authority? Yes, BOTH sides…

 

“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” – Matthew 7:28-29 NIV

 

THAT’S what we desperately need today. Someone with a clear vision for the future, not simply following the same old game plan, acting for political motives, backed up by selfish or vengeful interests looking to build power and influence for themselves.

 

As in the 2016 major election year, do we even have such people to choose from? How do we know?

 

Here’s what to look for, from the venerable Book of Proverbs…

 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23 NIV

 

As citizens we need to do our best to watch the heart, of any candidate and those around them. Take the time to examine, read, listen, check multiple sources. Toss out the obviously biased ones, and they’ll be obvious.

 

Talk to others, gauge their opinions, and not just ones that always agree with yours. Challenge yourself – seek those who disagree with you, find out why, ask questions. Be prepared to defend your views, you may be right, but be ready to realize that maybe your views need some sprucing.

 

But the loudest voice isn’t the authority – they’re just the loudest, usually an attempt to shout down someone else. The one who speaks last isn’t always the “winner.”

 

Working together let us hope to find the truth this fall, and that truth may indeed set us free.

 

From George Churchgoer