|The Great 'Now What?'|
Thoughts on the Election
November 03, 2010
I confess: I'm a political junkie. And I don't know about you, but I'm pooped. I was up very late watching the election returns, doing radio interviews, chatting on line with visitors to the Colson Center website.
Major events are always fascinating to watch-and last night was no exception. It signaled a major sea change in the mood of the American people. They are tired of the government spending money like a drunken sailor. They are tired of government getting its hooks into every area of national life.
But whether you are sweeping up after the celebration or drying your tear-soaked pillow, we Christians ought to be asking ourselves: Now what?
Well, let's put first things first. I will be on my knees, begging God to have mercy on this country and on His Church. And we should pray for our newly elected representatives and senators. Indeed, today is a good day to remember the words of the apostle Paul: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1Tim 2:1-3).
And heaven knows our leaders will need our prayers. That's because the fiscal crisis before us is positively staggering. A few months ago, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson warned that America's soaring debt has placed the country's preeminence, power and global prestige at the "edge of chaos."
The threat Ferguson pointed to should be obvious to everyone. Unfortunately, what's even more obvious is that our political system seems incapable of doing anything to avert this calamity.
If you are hoping that yesterday's election results will make that much of a difference, you hope in vain. The Republicans certainly don't have the votes to enact any massive government spending cuts: their program would almost certainly be filibustered in the Senate or vetoed by the president.
And, besides, neither they nor the Democrats are leveling with the American people about what is needed to get our fiscal house in order. Two-thirds of the federal budget is mandatory spending: entitlements and service on the debt. More than half of the remaining one-third goes to defense.
The remaining fourteen percent is what the average person thinks of as "federal spending." But even if you got rid of the whole thing-homeland security, food inspectors, the national parks, the FBI, etc.-we would still add nearly five trillion dollars to the debt over the next ten years.
And a divided government will not be able make the very painful decisions that need to be made. This sets us up for two more years of political battles leading up to the next presidential election. Well, that might be good for the folks who write the ads, and it might be good for the talking heads and for the political junkies, but as for the rest of it, I think most Americans are pretty well tired.
But if the government continues to be deadlocked as I suspect it will be, then all the more must the Church bear witness to the truth, to love and care for our neighbors and those in need, to speak out on behalf of human life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom. In other words, this is the time for the Church to rise up and really be the Church.