Won’t Get Fooled Again (July Synchroblog – God’s Politics)

Filed under:being jesus, community, faith, justice, politics, power, redemption, subversive, synchroblog — posted by Sonja on July 22, 2008 @ 8:16 am

Won’t Get Fooled Again … The Who

first recorded 1971, the above was filmed in 1978, lyrics below:

We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they were all flown in the last war

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
No, no!

I’ll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Though I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?

Yeah!

There’s nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
No, no!

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Well, by now you’re thinking that the old girl’s finally done it … she’s gone completely off her rocker.  Left her last marble far behind.  What on earth does this classic rock song have to do with politics and God and the election of 2008?  For me … everything.  It’s the refrain echoing in the air, just out of hearing, every time I hear a person of faith speak about politics these days.

Here’s a short course in US politics.  This country is not democracy.  We have a republic.  That is, we elect representatives to enact our (the people’s) will in terms of laws and spending.   In a true democracy, we would all come together to do this ourselves.  We would all vote directly on every single piece of legislation that Congress currently votes on.  So we have what is known as representative government.  See how easy that is?  We speak through our representatives.  At the federal level, this means our Congressional representatives (based on state population) and our Senators (2 from each state).  The congressional representatives (legislative branch) are up for election every 2 years, the senators every six.  In the mean time, we also elect a president (the executive branch of the government) every four years.  Now, to complete the system of checks and balances, our Founders threw in the judicial branch of the government; the Supreme Court.  The justices are appointed by a sitting president and serve for life and/or until retirement … whichever comes first.  The Supreme Court oversees the laws enacted by the legislative and executive branches to ensure that those laws are within the scope of the Constitution.  Likewise each of the other branches have veto power over the other two.  No one branch of the government has enough power to run things on their own.  All three must get along with each other in order for our government to continue functioning.  They all three simultaneously hold a carrot and a stick for each other.

If you look around you, you will see a similar pattern echoed in your state and local governments as well.  Three branches (executive, legislative and judicial) each simultaneously holding a carrot and a stick for the other two.  They will have different names at different levels, but you look; they’re there.  This is because our founding parents (don’t fool yourselves, the wives had a lot of influence on the men), were profoundly persuaded of the notion that humans need governance of themselves and of their worst inclinations in order to provide space and the ability to bring out their best inclinations.  In other words, if one could curb the greed for power with a system of checks and balances it might be possible to allow the best side human nature to blossom.

So that’s the short course on political systems in our country.  I hold a bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies and have been fascinated by study of politics from a young age.  I’ve been intrigued by politics and movements the way some people watch soap operas.  What will happen next and the speculation is a source of endless enchantment for me.

I’ve begun seeing posts here and there lately which encourage Christians especially those attempting to find a new way in the world to think about not voting in the coming election.  This is cloaked in language which helps those people feel subversive, powerful in meekness, and even Biblical.  Here’s the thing though … it’s none of those things.  Not voting is losing your voice and it’s playing right into the hands of the empire.  Here are my thoughts on why Christians should vote and vote carefully in each election.

My first thoughts are that all Christians need to take a course in critical thinking.  This is critical.  As an adult convert (at the age of 30) who went to a regular liberal arts college and learned the art of critical thinking and discourse, I have been regularly appalled at the lack of critical thinking that I see amongst the brethren and sistren.   It is why so many are now so bitterly disillusioned with President Bush.  Those of us who are critical thinkers saw him for who he was back in 1999; a charlatan.  But most Christians only heard what they wanted to hear in 2000 and again in 2004.  Having done that, and been so badly burned they seem unwilling to trust any politician again.

They need to listen for themselves and read for themselves what the candidates are saying.  Do not rely on the media reports … do not rely on Fox News or CNN or anyone else.  The internet is rife with the ability to get the speeches whole cloth.  Do this for yourself.  All you have to do is get one or two of the whole speeches and you will have enough to have the tenor of the candidate.  For instance,hen the story broke about Barak Obama’s pastor (Dr. Wright), I searched YouTube until I found his entire sermon and found the little bitty clips in context.  They meant something then and were not nearly as offensive.  If you know anything about the African-American church in this country, then you can understand where they came from.  If you don’t, then shame on you.  You have some homework to do.

Christians also need to understand the political process in such a way as to get beyond a single issue or even two issues.  Politicians, especially at the national level, must be more nuanced than that.  However, those same politicians are not above using and abusing naive voter blocks who may be lead around by the nose with a few well-chosen words.  We also need to understand the milieu in which we live.  We need to understand the vast difference between Israel of 4000 years ago and the United States of now.  There are some similarities, but we are NOT God’s chosen people.  Nor is this God’s chosen country.  It is different.

Here is the point I’d like to make the strongest.  We are not electing a king.  Ever since the time of Samuel (1Samuel 8:4-8) the people have been asking for a king.  When Jesus came as Messiah no one recognized him because they were looking for royalty and He was a peasant.  Now today in our country even those not in the church are still trying to elect a king every four years.  We try … every time … we keep looking for that savior who will make the country right again.  This time, this vote, is going to set us on the right path.  And it never happens.  It never will.  We are eternally disenchanted.  Every four years we keep waiting for a coronation, but we have an inauguration and we’re let down once again.  Because we do not have a king.

That’s a good thing.  We have checks and balances on aristocratic power and authority.  We, the people, have a voice.  As Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“Governments, wherein the will of every one has a just influence… has its evils,… the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem. [I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.] Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. ME 6:64″

“… nourishes a general attention to the public affairs.”  You see that’s the most important part of the quote.  In order for our republic to function, it requires a general attention to public affairs.  That means more than voting.  We cannot simply vote and walk away from the process, thinking our job is done.  Even so look at the statistics from the last presidential election:

In the presidential election of November 2004, the 64 percent of voting-age citizens who voted was higher than the 60 percent who turned out in 2000 (Table A).2 This was the highest turnout in a presidential election year since 1992, when 68 percent of voting-age citizens voted.3 The overall number of people who voted in the November 2004 election was 126 million, a record high for a presidential election year. Voter turnout increased by 15 million voters from the election in 2000. During this same 4-year period, the voting-age citizen population increased by 11 million
people.

The registration rate of the voting-age citizen population, 72 percent, was higher than the 70 percent registered in the 2000 election. The last presidential election year to have a higher registration rate was 1992, when 75 percent of voting-age citizens were registered to vote. Total registration in the November 2004 election was 142 million citizens, an increase of 12.5 million registered citizens since the 2000 election.

That’s pitiful.  Not even 2/3’s of the voting population in 2004.  And if you read the full report the breakdown of the statistics is even worse.  When you begin looking at age, education, and race the numbers are incredulous.  Those who use their voice in our country are white, rich, well-educated … and old.

It’s a self-selecting voice though.  We all have this voice.  Every single one of us.  Every race.  Every gender.  Education level doesn’t matter.  Hell, you don’t even have to be able to read.  The empire is hoping that these trends will continue.  Evil despises change.  And if Christians bow out now we will allow evil to have it’s way.

The really subversive and Biblical thing to do?

  1.   Read the report I linked to above; here it is again called Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004  
  2. Pay special attention to portions devoted to who did NOT vote.
  3. Get involved in voter registration drives for the other (that would be uneducated folks, hispanics, african-americans, anyone who doesn’t look like you)
  4. Help someone get to the polls on election day … maybe help more than one

These are the ways that we work against getting fooled again. Just bowing out of the system or not thinking about it ensures that evil wins … again. And the new boss will be the same as the old boss. Like or not, we do owe a few pennies to Ceasar as well as some to Jesus.

UPDATE:  The discussion here got far too personal and filled with ugly slurs that are not becoming for those who claim to follow or be disciples of Jesus Christ.  Because those who were participating in the conversation cannot seem to restrain themselves, I’ve closed comments.  7:30 EST July 23, 2008

*****************************************************************************

This is a synchroblog … here is a list of others who wrote about this fascinating subject today

Phil Wyman at Phil Wyman’s Square No More
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
Jonathan Brink enters The Political Fray
Adam Gonnerman explains The Living Christ’s Present Reign
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian
Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Steve Hayes on God’s Politics
Matthew Stone at Matt Stone Journeys in Between
Steve Hollinghurst at On Earth as in Heaven
KW Leslie tells us about God’s Politics
Julie Clawson is Singing the Songs of Zion in Babylon
Dan Stone at The Tense Before
Alan Knox asks Is God Red, Blue, or Purple?
Beth Patterson at The Virtual Teahouse
Erin Word discusses Hanging Chad Theology

8 comments

  1. Learners inheriting the earth: the politics of God…

    In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully…

    Trackback by Beth Patterson — July 22, 2008 @ 8:49 am

  2. :-)

    Comment by Sally — July 22, 2008 @ 11:51 am

  3. [...] The Political Fray Adam Gonnerman explains The Living Christ’s Present Reign Sonja Andrews Won’t Get Fooled Again Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes Steve Hayes on God’s [...]

    Pingback by Headspace » Questioning the Citizen Diety: July Synchroblog — July 22, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

  4. [...] on July 22, 2008 at 6:28 am2 Ravine of Light » Won’t Get Fooled Again (July Synchroblog – God’s Politics) [...]

    Pingback by The Political Fray « Missio Dei — July 22, 2008 @ 1:26 pm

  5. [...] The Political FrayAdam Gonnerman explains The Living Christ’s Present ReignSonja Andrews Won’t Get Fooled AgainMike Bursell at Mike’s MusingsSally Coleman at Eternal EchoesSteve Hayes on God’s [...]

    Pingback by The Rivers Shall Open for the Righteous- Synchroblog July 2008 « Before the Tense — July 22, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

  6. Great post–goes beyond the “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain” idea!

    Comment by kievasfargo — July 22, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  7. Sonja,

    Rock on! Thanks for the lesson, and the encouragement. This was a great post.

    Comment by Phil Wyman — July 22, 2008 @ 10:13 pm

  8. This post was just the kick in the arse that I needed! I’ve been really feeling so disillusioned lately and was heading down a not-so-good path in this area of my thinking. Thanks for taking the time to write it!

    Comment by Tracy Simmons — July 23, 2008 @ 7:51 am

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