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Self-Government

June 26, 2016

US Capitol at dusk, Author Martin Falbisoner (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The ability of men and women to govern themselves was tested this week, not only in the United States but overseas.  One can argue that it passed muster.  But only by a razor thin margin.

Here are a few of the lessons we can learn:

Lesson 1:  We still need the three distinct branches of government our Founding Fathers crafted

“…For the Lord is our Judge, The Lord is our Lawgiver, The Lord is our King; He will save us…” (Isaiah 33: 22).

With a tie vote, the US Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to prevent expansion of two executive action programs, in effect prohibiting Pres. Barack Obama from selective enforcement of existing immigration law [1].  The programs in question were Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).

Both for humanitarian and political reasons, the President had attempted to shield some 4 million illegal immigrants (primarily Hispanics) from deportation.

While a sizable number of Americans are sympathetic to the plight of illegals, there is widespread agreement that immigration reform should be undertaken by the legislative branch of government.  Unfortunately, that has been stymied by those who view any path whatsoever to citizenship as unacceptable.

Lesson 2:  Even the US Supreme Court is not above party politics

What sorrow awaits the unjust judges and those who issue unfair laws. They deprive the poor of justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people. They prey on widows and take advantage of orphans” (Isaiah 10: 1-2).

As most Americans know, there is an opening on the Supreme Court.  This is what gave rise to the tie (above).  Democrats would like to appoint a liberal; Republicans, a conservative.  Since Republicans currently control both the House and Senate, a vote on our Democratic President’s nominee has been deferred in the hope a Republican President will shortly replace him.

The judges we elect and appoint are men and women as flawed as the rest of us.  We would do well to remember, however, that undermining the authority of the courts opens the door for the abuse of power by our executive and legislative branches.

If we want a wise judiciary, we must select wise judges.  We cannot politicize the selection process, then claim surprise at the results.

Lesson 3:  All three branches of government can be dysfunctional, simultaneously

The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God…He has said in his heart, ‘I shall not be moved; I shall never be in adversity.’  His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression…” (Ps. 10: 4, 6-7).

Led by long-time civil rights advocate, John Lewis, the Democrats held a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives [2][3].  The event was held both to force a House vote on gun control, in light of the Orlando nightclub shooting, and embarrass the Republicans for their allegiance to the NRA.  Within a week of the Orlando massacre, the Senate had shot down 4 separate measures to limit gun sales [4].

There could have been no more telling illustration of the inability of Congress to govern.  When dialog is seen as weakness and compromise as failure, the outcome is legislative paralysis.

Lesson 4:  The governed cannot be forever ignored

Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed…” (Ps. 10: 17-18).

The British people voted to leave the European Union (EU) [5].  The final tally was a narrow but decisive 48% to 51%.  It was prompted by a sluggish economy and fears about the European refugee crisis [6].

The decision came as a shock to pollsters, news agencies, government officials, and financial markets alike.  The drumbeat for globalization had been so loud, for so long, that those benefiting from it monetarily could not conceive of opposition.  What did it matter if wages fell or were stagnant, if jobs (or cultural values) were lost, so long as profits for the few continued to rise?

British voters were warned by experts that departure from the EU could have negative consequences.  They chose to take that risk, rather than be ignored any longer.

Self-governance is not easy.  Human beings can be obstinate creatures.  Democracy requires both conviction and commitment.  Too often a voter’s only choice is between bad and worse.  But the majority must hear the minority out.  The minority cannot simply pick up their ball and go home.

The image of functional democracy is not that of one man crushing another to death.  It is that of two men – men with competing interests and competing views – forever wrestling; two men, each alternately on top, yet never forgetting they are brothers.

For all its shortcomings, democracy remains the best form of government on earth [7].

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

–        Winston Churchill

[1]  Portal Em Dia, “Supreme Court rules on immigration decision on deportation” by Gustavo Bishop, 6/24/16, http://portalemdia.com/2016/06/24/supreme-court-rules-on-immigration-decision-on-deportation.html.

[2]  Fox News, “House gun control sit-in a media coup, but party gets a pass on disruption” by Howard Kurtz, 6/24/16, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/06/24/house-gun-control-sit-in-media-coup-but-party-gets-pass-on-disruption.html.

[3]  NY Times, “Three Separate, Equal and Dysfunctional Branches of Government” by Carl Hulse, 6/23/16, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/24/us/politics/three-separate-equal-and-dysfunctional-branches-of-government.html?_r=0.

[4]  Boing Boing, “Gun control defeated in Senate.  #Orlando means nothing if you’re paid by the NRA.” by Xeni Jardin, 6/20/16, https://boingboing.net/2016/06/20/gun-control-defeated-in-senate.html.

[5]  The Washington Post, “Britain shocks world:  breaks with European Union, British leader steps down” by Griff Witte, Karla Adam, and Dan Balz, 6/24/16,  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/britain-shocks-world-breaks-with-european-union-british-leader-steps-down/ar-AAhznhT.

[6] infoplease, “The 2015 Immigration Crisis” by Jennie Wood, http://www.infoplease.com/world/statistics/immigration-crisis.html.

[7]  As Christians, we have the added consolation that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18: 36).  Our true citizenship is, therefore, in heaven (Philippians 3: 20).

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

14 Comments
  1. “The governed cannot be forever ignored”–I like that a lot. Anna, I’m guessing you are familiar with David Barton, and his founding fathers Bible? This weekend he is guest speaker at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX–where I attend online–and I was thoroughly absorbed by his every word. I confess I was never good in History, not even interested in learning about our country’s roots and Constitution–but I was fascinated enough to put his Bible on my Amazon wish list. Wishing you all the Best–God bless you abundantly with His favor.

    • As you may have guessed, I’m a history buff. David Barton is attempting to counter the lie that Christians had little or nothing to do with the founding of this country. Unfortunately, that lie is now accepted as orthodoxy. May God bless you abundantly, too, Shadeau.

      • We can pray for further enlightenment to those who accept orthodoxy 🙂 What I especially got from Barton’s message was that, back in the day of the founding fathers, people knew the Bible well–they didn’t have to include chapter and verse when they spoke God’s Word, as “everyone” just knew it; it was taught in home, church and school. Today we have to include Bible references because as Barton says, most people are “Bible illiterate”. He noted that we are praised today when it’s apparent we know the Bible well, whereas “back then”, it was shameful to be ignorant. And best of all, he challenged us to read the Bible “cover to cover” in a year–something I had done faithfully in past years, but then lapsed. So I got out my “One Year Bible” and began again! Have a blessed week, Anna 🙂

      • Bravo, Shadeau. You set an example for others.

      • We’re on the winning side, Anna–and it’s exciting to catch revelation of God’s truth, and see how far we can fly 🙂 (and hopefully be an example to influence others…)

      • The war between good and evil was, Christians know, won at the cross. The battles though rage, and we all play our part. May God help us do right.

      • Indeed the battles wage daily, and it’s important for me to keep in the back of my mind that–with Jesus in the center, and fighting for us–we do have victory, even if we don’t see evidence of it today. I bog down, get depressed, if I don’t keep my focus on that ultimate victory. I join your prayers that God will help us to “do right” as we play our part–and I have confident faith…at least for today 🙂 God Bless You.

      • Keeping our focus on that ultimate victory is a challenge for all Christians.

      • Yep–if it were easy, we wouldn’t call it “faith” 🙂

  2. Excellent article Anna.

  3. Anna,
    What I find most interesting about the points you’ve made is that they all point to a general attitude of world-wide discontent. And it is no wonder when you think about it.For example,here in America when are we ever truly satisfied? Can any of us truthfully say we have enough?

    I would say the answer to these questions is a resounding “NO”.Pick the subject matter and there is a level of unhappiness or disagreement about it.This is a direct result of our fixation on the “now” vs. the hereafter, which has been brought about by our rejection of all things Godly in this nation.What is most tragic is that we have enjoyed a level of prosperity unparalleled in the history of the world,but now have fallen to the point where we cannot even agree on the simplest of things in order to protect our citizens.

    And as the gap ever widens between the “haves”(Western society) and the “have not’s”(everyone else)this discontent continues to boil and fester to the point that we are seeing unprecedented unrest on a world wide scale today.

    I am watching with great interest the events unfolding in Britain and the U.K. as well as how the EU responds.Clearly,this has struck a divisive alarm to them and may cause severe damage to the region.Most certainly, a weakened EU is something that Russia is in favor of as this gives them a potential avenue to exploit.

    While not one to join in with the prophecy pundits of today I will say that the world is inching ever closer to the establishment of the one world government foretold in the scriptures.For all we know,the EU is just a “trial run” for that which is to come.The departure of Britain from the EU will certainly allow them to gain the necessary experience in how to deal with “unruly” members who don’t want to follow the leader.

    For sure,dark days are ahead yet there is still One that will see us through no matter what happens all around us!

    • You are so right, Ron! But despite the chaos, our God remains in charge. Christians have the assurance that He is with us always, even to the end of the age.

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