From the Psalms:
Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath, *
even those of low estate cannot be trusted.
On the scales they are lighter than a breath, *
all of them together.
Put no trust in extortion;
in robbery take no empty pride; *
though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Psalm 32:10-12, BCP versification – July 31, 2012)
WARNING: I reveal my politics in this post. If you don’t want to read about them, don’t continue!
There are no words that can adequately convey how thoroughly disgusted I am with the tone and content of political discourse in the United States of America as we approach the November 2012 elections. I make no bones of the fact that I am a liberal or a “progressive” as the Left now calls itself. My favorite senator is Bernie Sanders of Vermont. If there were a functioning Socialist Party in the US, I’d probably be a member. As it is, I’m an independent who tends to vote for Democrats, but frequently I find myself not voting for any standing candidate.
I am not one of those who goes in for the false equivalency of saying, “Both sides do it.” Yes, there are some on the Left who go overboard in their rhetoric, but in my estimation and opinion it is the Right, the Republican Party and the so-called Tea Party, who engage in the worst of the political nonsense. Much of what one finds on the internet coming from those quarters is racist and inflammatory; it is ill-informed; it is downright false and untrue. The words of our president or other Democrats are taken out of context and twisted completely away from their original meanings . . . the gullible, party-faithful fall for it and parrot it back without ever checking the facts. Statistics are distorted and history is ignored. It’s shameful!
But the worst of it all is the constant barrage of bombast in favor of continuing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans on the grounds that they are “job creators”! They are not! Money put into the pockets of people who already have plenty of money does not make its way into the marketplace. Money in the pockets of business owners does not encourage them to hire people. It is only money given to those who actually spend it, to the middle-class consumers who create product demand, that creates jobs. This is simple economics which our politicians are simply ignoring.
Which brings me to the admonitions of today’s Psalm: “Though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it.” Increasing the wealth of those of “high degree” who are “but a fleeting breath” is not the way to increase the prosperity of the people. It accomplishes none of the good we are to accomplish under the Law of Moses or the mandate of the Gospel! It does not further love of God nor of our neighbor. It does not feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe the naked, nor heal the sick; it does not increase care of the widow or the orphan or the stranger who is in our land. It accomplishes nothing, not a shred of those things the Bible commends society to do. So long as our political discourse focuses only on questions of wealth and its increase, it serves no good purpose, whether it is the bombast of the Right or the bluster of the Left.
There are no words that can adequately convey how thoroughly disgusted I am with the tone and content of political discourse in the United States of America as we approach the November 2012 elections, but these will have to do: our political discourse does not honor God; it does not honor our neighbor; it does not honor our country. It is an embarrassment.
Father Funston in the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.