Republican presidential candidates pose for a photo at the start of the South Carolina Republican presidential candidate debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday, Jan. 16, 2012.
Do we seriously expect the poisoned, propagandized primary/caucus system we’re currently enduring to select the Republican best equipped to lead the United States?
It seems to me it’s presenting us with a line-up of power-grabbing, greedy, grandiose grinches whose pandering pants ought to be permanently on fire.
Why do we Americans put up with a system seemingly designed by scoundrels to sell bad news to uneducated simpletons?
Especially when we no longer have to.
As a person who is a fan of Jesus, but not of organized religion, I have been mightily heartened by the Why-I-Hate-Religion-But-Love-Jesus YouTube phenomenon. Jefferson Bethke, a graduate of the ‘Just Do It’ School of Evangelism, bypassed the church and all its tentacles and took his message directly – and effectively – to us. He proved you don’t need an organization and millions of dollars to get eighteen million people to take your point.
The church was, in the main, not pleased that Mr. Bethke was able to spread his message so effectively without using any of its established communication channels. Anyone else think back to the Martin Luther flap of 1517?
The e-evangelist recently said something on NPR that I think is as relevant to politics as it is to religion:
Going back to the poisonous primary/caucus system.
The problem, it seems to me, is that the current money-driven system perpetuates a concentration of wealth and power among the already wealthy and powerful. The price of running for office forces our politicians into bed with moguls and magnates; and moguls and magnates appears to want one thing: to secure (and increase) their wealth and power. Dress it up as reining in Big Government, job creation, ending foreign oil dependence, saving the family – it’s still about the rich and powerful buying candidates.
The super rich support their own interests. What this means is that, in our current money-fueled system, we’re not going to get a chance to support a presidential candidate who supports us; who has the slightest desire to understand what it’s really like to walk around in our shoes. If he/she’s ever been in our shoes, she/he has managed to get out of them and plans on staying out.
Back to Mr. Bethke and his anti-establishment YouTube video. What can he teach us about politics and culture?
Has perhaps the image of American presidential candidates duking it out on the hustings has outlived its age? Has perhaps such low-technology politics has priced itself out of relevance in a democracy and into relevance only in an oligarchy? Perhaps it’s time for a candidate to go on YouTube with a video called “Because I Love America, I Won’t Participate In Big Money Politics?”
Perhaps it’s time for a candidate to try running a campaign with a hundred-dollar ceiling on donations. Such a campaign would rely heavily on the internet, supplemented with speaking appearances on college campuses and in town halls. The candidate would still participate in debates, be covered in newscasts, but otherwise he/she would communicate with us the way Jefferson Bethke did: through the internet.
It seems to me that the only guaranteed way for a candidate to stay un-bought is to run a campaign that doesn’t need a lot of money. And I am not nearly cynical enough to think that there aren’t viable presidential candidates who really do want only to be of service to America.
Sure, such a small money voice could get easily drowned out. But as Bethke showed us on the spiritual side, sometimes the little guy can win.
Martha’s note: This essay is a feature of Faith Unboxed, an ongoing, civil, respectful conversation about faith I invite you to participate by sharing your own ideas and experiences (either here or on the Web site), rather than by denigrating the ideas and experiences of others.