Here are a few thoughts (sorta rants) on politics this year. Largely just preaching to myself. Feel free to chime in in the comments.
The ratio between the attention we spend on Federal politics and the attention we spend on local politics is far to heavily weighted towards the Federal side. Yes, it is important. But you are much more likely to be able to influence local politics than Federal. So, spend more time paying attention to State, County, and City politics.
We put far to much hope and expectation on the President. Article 2 Sections 2 and 3 lay out what the President is supposed to do. If the order those duties are listed in matters, then it goes something like this:
- Lead the Military as Commander in Chief.
- Pay attention to what is going on in the various government departments.
- Grant leniency to for Offences against the USA.
- Deal with foreign diplomacy, with the caveat that treaties require 2/3rds of the Senate agree with him.
- Appoint ambassadors and other public ministers.
- Nominate judges and other positions that require legislative approval.
- Make recess appointments.
- Lobby Congress to pass bills.
- Force Congress to get together when it is really needed.
- Force Congress to adjourn if Congress is locked in disagreement.
- Receive foreign diplomats.
- Make sure Laws are properly executed.
- Commission officers of the USA.
From that, the President can only execute the law, and act as a super lobbyist. He cannot make law. His power only allows him to do what Congress tells him to do when they pass laws.
So, why do we expect the President to fulfill all the many campaign promises he makes when campaigning? He can only do so if Congress agrees with him. President Obama promised to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison, he has yet to do so. Donald Trump promises to build a wall on the Mexican border. Considering how Congress has failed to do anything resembling real immigration reform, do you really think they'll let him? And so on.
Ultimately, the President just does not have the power we act like he does. Nor, if you really stop to think about it, should he. If he did, he'd be a tyrant.
Presidential Elections have turned into celebrity reality TV shows. Seriously, why in the world do we pick the candidates who have the most media attention and money? I find the "debates" especially annoying. How does a moderated, time limited, debate demonstrate anything related to the duties the Constitution assigns the President? Why does messing up in a debate result in so many solid candidates loosing?
I believe that the reason politicians never make any real difference, is that we keep electing them out of fear. It boils down to this: "If I don't vote for Side A's candidate, Side Apple will win. If Side Apple wins, it's end of the world." Thus, all Side A has to do is convince us that Side Apple is more evil than we may think Side A is. Even if we feel like pinching our noses in disgust as we cast our ballot.
The incentive, then, is for politicians to never risk rocking the boat enough that they might not be able to convince us of the other sides evilness.
We can see this in how the Republican party gained a majority in Congress in 2014 (or 2012). They had promised to do something about the Executive orders President Obama made regarding immigration. As far as my, rather limited, Google, research shows, all they've done is sued the Obama Administration. That's just odd. Why not just pass a law repealing Obama's executive orders? Sure, it'd get vetoed, but why not at lest try to get enough votes to override a veto? Why not try passing actual reform bills? Why just a lawsuit?
The answer is political theater. All they are doing is making enough waves that their constituents will keep voting for them.
Another example is the 2013 Government Shutdown. The Republican's had every right to insist that the Democrats actually work with them on a budget. But, instead of making the Shutdown about how the Democrats refused to negotiate, they made it about the PPACA. And, when the Democrats acted like bullies, the Republicans eventually just surrendered and gave the Democrats everything they wanted. Ultimately, all the Republicans were doing was trying to look pretty so they could win elections. They didn't actually want to win.
I believe the solution to ending political theater, is for us to start only voting FOR people, instead of AGAINST "Side Apple". Yes, chances are that this will cripple our side. But, well, so what? It's not like our side is really all that effective now. If we demonstrate that we're willing to back politicians who risk capsizing the vote because they follow their convictions instead of just playing political theater, and willing to hold politicians accountable, eventually we'll either replace all the actors, or the actors will retire.
A note to my fellow Christians. God is in complete control of all of this. See Romans 13:1. Even when the side we think is against God wins. That means that no matter who you vote for, God will choose the person He wants to win. All we need to do is make sure we vote the way God leads us to vote. Even if everyone tells us a vote for a "third-party" candidate is a vote for the "evil" side. Or even if we have to pinch our noses when voting for the person God tells us to vote for. It's ultimately up to God, so vote out of FAITH, not FEAR.