“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” I Timothy 6:10, NIV
As the television and radio ads of candidates for office have become more frequent during the past two weeks, sometimes running back to back to back at particular times of the day, the messages sort of blend together. Listening to the radio on the way home tonight, a talk station that does a fair job of balancing both sides of the political spectrum, it was easy to hear the messages. This is a fight between two philosophies directly related to acquiring, accumulating and hoarding wealth, plain and simple.
One philosophy wants to push the limits of borrowing from the future, seeing this as an unlimited supply of cash to spend on whatever we want to spend it on. The theory that the government can stimulate the economy out of a recession has been tested before, with some limited success. But this has been more like the goose which laid the golden egg. Not being patient enough to wait for the results, the goose’s keeper decided to get all the eggs at one time, at quite a high price. Any credible economist will tell you that the stimulus bill pushed by the President kept unemployment from going higher than it did, perhaps as high as 16% without it. But they will also tell you that there’s a point at which the size of the expenditures negate the benefits. The government can’t spend that kind of money without consequences, among them, the waste that comes when those who have their fingers in a lot of pies have access to lots of government cash with little government supervision.
On the other side, the Republicans have dropped all pretense of being the “value voters party” and are advertising themselves as the path back to prosperity. The enticement is personal gain, the general goal of putting them back in power in Washington is to increase your own shot at prosperity. They are banking on the fact that memories are short, and that the slow, painful economic recovery will have made enough enemies for their opponents for voters to turn around and put them back in power, in spite of the fact that the policies they now advocate are largely responsible for causing the recession in the first place.
But the point here is that we are seeing a clear demonstration of the accuracy of the scripture passage that I quoted at the beginning. These campaigns, where candidates rip into their opponents, charge forward with personal attacks, and run television and radio ads full of claims they know are false, in other words, blatant lying, are all about getting elected to an office where they will have some say in pushing their personal view of handling money. From a personal perspective, a candidate who launches personal attacks against another candidate, rather than attempting to run on their own record, or on a set of positions on the issues, loses a lot of respect. Even if they win, they are tainted by the caustic, critical way they handled themselves during the campaign. They lose the respect of many of the people who were on the opposing side and when they assume office, it weakens their effectiveness. The end result is that nothing is accomplished on behalf of the people who elected them. Again.
It is clear that the intensity of this political season is causing a lot of people to set aside their values and behave in a way that causes their faith to be called into question. We’ve forgotten what it means to vehemently disagree with someone politically, but still respect and value them as a person. We think that, because they don’t agree with our view, they are to be hated and treated with derision. That’s distorted thinking caused by greed, which the Bible calls sin. If we were as enthusiastic in our opposition to gossip and greed as we were to homosexuality, we’d be making a real difference. But I think the American Christian community is too prosperous to have such a complete understanding of the scriptures.