I was talking the other day to a friend who is full of love for God, and he was lamenting the lack of — to be absolutely charitable — virtue in those who have risen to the leadership level both here in the state and at the national level. “Their refusal to be like Christ in any way is frustrating,” he said, noting the popularity of leaning heavily on fear and shying wholly from love and compassion.
I’d remarked that it’s an odd time to be a parent, or to spend time teaching kids in any capacity. How in good faith can we tell children not to be bullies when they realize doing so has been an effective pathway to the Blaine House, and most recently to the White House? When stripping health care from 22 million people can be, straight-faced by competent leaders, written off as a choice by people in need to not buy what they won’t have access to. You can say to take the higher ground, but we are presently in a moment in which those who do not, who lead with ego and hyperbole and bullying, maintain an upper hand of governance.
All in the name, it should be noted, of maintaining policies that are bad for working people, though sold under the pretense of providing economic freedom — whatever that means. The freedom to buy something you could never afford in the first place, particularly as cost of living increases, health care costs increase, subsidies for access to insurance are being slashed as a means of removing the tax burden for the wealthy, and the jobs these leaders promised to help retain don’t materialize. But hey. You’ll have the freedom to not access health care, and so the market ideologues win.
They win despite how unfounded the policies are. In Kansas, the GOP was forced to reconcile the fact that Gov. Sam Brownback’s nearly anarchist stripping of government resulted in total failure and — in a shocking move for modern Republicans — they reversed anti-government policies. The Kansas approach was going to be hailed as a win for the country, but it fell to pieces. But, despite the model proving these approaches to be fundamentally flawed and against the livelihood of working people, the national GOP keeps hammering away at redistributing the fruits of government upward to those who need the least help and already have more choice than any of us.
The Jesus I fell in love with growing up, the one who had contempt for those who celebrated their wealth and power — who operated on an agenda of love and compassion — would find little value in these sexually predatory presidents or combative-for-combat’s sake governors. Those who play chicken with their political adversaries at the expense of people who work. Those who want to strip access to insurance because it is too expensive for the monied classes.
I should note, by the way, that I launched my business thanks to partners who could come on board thanks to the insurance access created by the Affordable Care Act. Jesus wasn’t a Small Business Administration guy, so I’m sure that’s a detail he wouldn’t have cared about, but this contempt for working people will also come at the expense of new businesses and ideas making their way to market. With no safety net, fewer people take the risk entrepreneurism requires.
I am not a theologist, but I can’t imagine Jesus would have looked at leaders who make teaching our children virtue a complicated task with a lot of love.
It’s not to say he would not have recognized them. Agents of the state claiming to act in the best interest would have looked more than familiar to him. The corrupt and contemptible, those trying to steal every dollar for themselves and their class, have been around since the time of Christ and before. It was, in fact, politicians who met these descriptions, buckling to the will of worked up and frustrated masses, who were responsible for his execution. They wouldn’t have looked new at all.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was a teenager. He’s an owner-partner of a Portland-based content production company and lives with his family, dogs and garden in Cornish.