“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey? Does it growl in its den when it has caught nothing?Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground when no bait is there? Does a trap spring up from the ground if it has not caught anything?When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?” – Amos 3:3-6
It was one heck of a week on the political front. The Democratic National Convention closed with what, by most accounts, was a well delivered but otherwise weak speech from president Obama. The following morning, the jobs report came out and was (according to Mish, who is one of the best in the business) an absolute catastrophe. The spin continues from both sides and surely will through the election and beyond.
Earlier in the week I caught an article in which Debra Lee, CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET), claimed that Republicans were pandering to women and minorities. Now, we’ll leave aside the historical definition of a “pander” (which is the equivalent of a pimp) and go with the modern connotation of “to flatter or cajole people, to cater or appeal to their emotions/worries/prejudices/expectations for one’s own gain; to engage in demagoguery.” In this context, essentially telling folks what they want to hear, even if you don’t really believe it, in order to procure their political support.
On the face of it, I don’t think I disagree. Republicans, like Democrats, are politicians (at least the ones at the conventions are). They tell people what they want to hear in order to get votes. All we need to extend to Miss Lee’s position is to hold that most women and most minorities do not support (in aggregate) typical Republican platform ideologies, and favor instead (in aggregate) Democrat platform ideologies. But we hardly need any study to prove this though, we have election returns and exit polls. That’s not to say that there aren’t conservative women (there are a lot) or minorities (there are a lot – though fewer), but the majority of women and minorities tend to side with the liberal leaning Democrat platform.
It’s an interesting thought in light of what happened at the DNC earlier this week. On Tuesday the Democrats chose to remove any mention of God from the party platform. This was a first. When the story broke the DNC quickly realized they were in trouble. It’s not a good idea in a country where 80% self-identify as Christian to remove any mention of God from the party platform. (Side note: I make decisions based on policy – so this is a non-issue for me.) So, they decided to put God back into the platform. What happened next was the stuff of legend.
OK. So, here you have the Democrats moving to add some verbiage back into the platform, one to recognize God, and the other to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (For those keeping score, Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel. The whole Jerusalem debate is another post.) Some notes:
First, the person making the motion to reinstate the language is Ted Strickland, the former governor of Ohio, and the Chairman of the Platform Drafting Committee. So, the exclusion of God from the platform was not at all a surprise to him. His move to put it back in was clearly a response to political pressure – he realized that they had screwed up the first time.
Next there is the council chair, held by Mayor Villagarosa of Los Angeles, who was a deer caught in the headlights. He knew the drill, and was caught off guard when the first voice vote didn’t come down with a clear 2/3 majority. At this point, he did the stand-up thing, he asked for another vote … you know, just to make sure. The second vote was even more clearly not a 2/3 majority in the affirmative. You can see the honesty in his eyes at this point. He is about to call it off. “Well, I guess …” and then the over-rule. Someone emerges and is caught telling Villagarosa that “they’re going to do what they’re going to do.” Villagarosa soldiers up, asks for another vote, gets the same non-2/3 vote, and forces the motion through anyway.
(Because the motion carried both God and Jerusalem, I’ll give the arm-waving delegates a pass. I suspect they were more upset about the Jerusalem thing.)
So, what word shall we ascribe to this political chicanery, and how shall we describe it? Well, if BET CEO Debra Lee is to be believed, then I’d say what we have here is a clear-cut case of pandering. A majority of Christians tend to lean in a more conservative direction politically. That’s not to say that Christians like all that there is about Republicanism, or that there aren’t Christians who lean the other direction (I’ll leave that one largely untouched for now). But a majority of Christians will lean away from the Democrats – because of their policies. Now we have the Democratic Party re-instating “God” and “Jerusalem” to their platform. That sounds an awful lot like telling people what they want to hear in order to get their vote regardless of whether you actually have policies and positions that they support … or pandering.
It’s OK guys – you’re politicians. Pandering is what you do.
In this two-party system of a representative democracy, this is what we’re left with. The political parties are “sausage” of sorts. People who disagree with each other on any number of issues come together because they hold that in unison they can each achieve their individual ends, even if they have to tolerate the ends of the others in the process.
That’s not to say that you have to participate. A protest vote (or non-vote) is fine. A statement of “neither party is good enough to get my vote, but I’m willing to be swayed if a party wants to change in a better direction.” But, if you’re going to choose to vote for one of these parties, you’re going to have to stomach some nonsense.
I’m sure there were southern black Christians in the room who were appalled at the room’s attempt to shut out God (or Jerusalem), but will vote Democrat anyway. Just as I can assure you there are right-leaning Christians who are appalled by Republican handling of government finances and immigration (the Bible has a TON to say about being kind and just toward “aliens in the land”), but they’ll likely vote Republican anyway.
As I’ve said before, I make voting decisions based on policy, not pandering. I’m not voting Democrat – and it has nothing to do with the inclusion or exclusion of God from this platform. But, as a Christian, I have to say this is a bit of a scary moment. There are people screaming and shouting against the inclusion of God – something as simple as “God-given potential” – in the platform. Is this really a party that’s going to get the backing of 1/2 of the country? I’m flabbergasted. It was a chilling moment.
Now, on to the lighter side of chilling moments … check out this rather humorous commercial of the president using the same talking points in 2008 and 2012. Maybe the teleprompter was stuck on repeat. (Hey, even Milli Vanilli got the tape stuck on repeat in concert.)