A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Washington DC to the American People: "We Control Everything" and "You're On Your Own"

The latest editorial from Peggy Noonan is quite insightful and worth consideration (which doesn't necessarily mean that she is right).

In her article Noonan argues that there is something legitimate to the growing alienation that a large segment of the American population feel toward the federal government. She writes,

None of this happened overnight. It is, most recently, the result of two wars that were supposed to be cakewalks, Katrina, the crash, and the phenomenon of a federal government that seemed less and less competent attempting to do more and more by passing bigger and bigger laws.

Add to this states on the verge of bankruptcy, the looming debt crisis of the federal government, and the likelihood of ever-rising taxes. Shake it all together, and you have the makings of the big alienation. Alienation is often followed by full-blown antagonism, and antagonism by breakage.

...Arizona is moving forward because the government in Washington has completely abdicated its responsibility. For 10 years—at least—through two administrations, Washington deliberately did nothing to ease the crisis on the borders because politicians calculated that an air of mounting crisis would spur mounting support for what Washington thought was appropriate reform—i.e., reform that would help the Democratic and Republican parties.

But while the Democrats worry about the prospects of the Democrats and the Republicans about the well-being of the Republicans, who worries about America?

What do you think? Is Noonan right? Is she wrong? A little bit of both?

I welcome all to comment. Please read the entire editorial first. Feel free to make your point passionately, but in civility... and no ad hominem arguments... substance only please.

I invite all to join the discussion. These matters are important.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Yeah, I think she's essentially right. Though she certainly comes at it more from a right (versus left) perspective.

In my view America is unwilling to live as community, giving up some for the good of all. Any society bent on individual rights to the exclusion of other is of little merit in light of God's kingdom come in Jesus.

So we as the people of God in Jesus need to be aware that we are called to counter this in how we live, the values we have. But we're too American to do so well, it seems to me, generally speaking.

Ted M. Gossard said...

....let me add this, though. I think the ideologies of both parties are played out in presidencies and in congress. Of course there are power grabs and positionings unfortunately. But both Bush and Obama move from clear ideological positions.

PamBG said...

In my view America is unwilling to live as community, giving up some for the good of all. Any society bent on individual rights to the exclusion of other is of little merit in light of God's kingdom come in Jesus.

I'm totally on this page with Ted and I couldn't agree more.

Michael said...

While I agree in principle with Ted's assesment, I think the idea that more and more Americans - including American Christians - are grabbing for themselves is precisely because Democrats and Republicans are gathering only for themselves. Noonan asks: who is looking out for Americans? Answer within this context: individual Americans are looking out for themselves because there is no one looking out for them.

It is in this sense of frustration with Washington that Arizona has reacted as it has. It's border-control problem is unique to those states which border Mexico, and Washington - even within the realm of national security - seems oblivious or, worse still, unconcerned.

It has been pointed out throughout history, however, that alienation and dissatisfaction become more acute when unemployment is high because Washington seems unconcerned even with this massive problem. The bigger picture, for the sake of the Democrats or the Republicans, is to simply manipulate numbers to suit their own ends or pass such as "health care reform" which sounds good in the title but whose substance is still yet to be fully determined.

Maybe Noonan is coming from the right, but I think "bigger and bigger laws" is the majority party trying to make government bigger than it needs to be (though they are not uniquely at fault), trying to be all things to all people and solve everyone's problems but essentially being nothing but a problem unto itself.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I can't speak for him, but I think the problem in Allan's mind is that the kingdoms of this world have no calling from God to shepherd the people (kings known as shepherds in the ANE) as the theocracy in Israel did. And whatever carryover of that today is to the church. I agree as to where the locus of God's kingdom is, and its outworking: in no less than the community of God's people in Jesus who is King and Shepherd.

But the powers still hold sway in this world under God to be sure, so that I am now of the persuasion that we should seek to bring to bear the values of God's kingdom in Jesus on them. And call out that (even if in our country's foundation) which is not in line, and even in opposition to God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven. But I think we need to become known as those who live out those values in a way that is very much involved in the world, without being a part of "the world."

Country Parson said...

Whatever her politics, Noonan is a gifted writer capable of turning the perfect phrase. In this case, I agree with her quotes as an accuarate statement of what many think about government in general and the federal government in specific, and for good reason. I, speaking only for myself, believe that the current administration is as committed to the well being of the nation as one could expect, and that they are capable, realistic political leaders. I cannot say the same for Congressional leadership in either party, but there are a few bright lights. With that in mind, I could not care less about whether we are a Christian nation in any sense of the word. But I do care very much that we Christians need to be more diligent in following the teachings of Christ when we enter the political arena.

Allan R. Bevere said...

I do believe that the nations have a responsibility to act justly. What I question is how Christians on both political sides throw their support behind the politics of the nation as if that is where the central focus should be.

I do believe that Noonan is right that nations have an obligation to secure their borders. I disagree with her on her withholding judgment on whether or not the Arizona law is a bad one. I do not like it. It does resemble the kind of action a police state would take, although apparently, the governor has now signed amendments into law that explicitly prohibit racial profiling. But I still do not like the idea. It's one of those actions that gives me a real bad feeling.

But I do agree with her that Arizona has become desperate for something to be done and neither political party in Washington has been concerned enough to do something about it. Instead they have played re-election football with an important matter. So now, the state has acted. The only problem is that often when one acts in desperation, bad decisions are made.

Noonan is also right in that until there is a secure Mexican/American border, there will be no comprehensive immigration reform. And that is quite unfortunate because we need conmprehensive immigration reform

Here's my prediction-- In spite of what Arizona has done, Washington DC will still do nothing and more border states will enact similar legislation. They only way that Congress will finally act on behalf of the states as if there is a major disaster as a direct result of the border situation.

It will be up for the courts to decide whether what Arizona has done is constitutional. And if they decide against the states, they will be left hanging out to dry while the Democrats and Republicans in our nation's capital continue their sad and not very funny portrayal of the Keystone Cops.

I do not like what Arizona has done, but they truly feel that Washington has left them to fend for themselves. They're feelings are justified.