Anyone who has read my blog posts for any amount of time, or who has talked to me about political issues, knows that I have a very dim view of politics and its practitioners. I am convinced that each party wants nothing more than the power that comes from being in office and in control of the political affairs of the nation, and it doesn’t matter what they have to do or promise in order to gain that power. Overall, politicians will not hesitate to lie, deceive, and mislead the American people and the world in order to gain a political advantage over their enemies—the other party. They will also launch vicious smear campaigns against the members of the other party. If you want to get the truth about one of the candidates for a federal office, it’s useless to ask the politician himself or to ask his opponent; you will get two very different answers, neither of which will be the truth.
For a long time, stemming from my childhood, I had it in mind that these political games were a recent development in American politics, maybe from the previous 50 years or so. I have since learned differently.
This evening I was watching a series of short documentaries on the presidents of the USA. John Quincy Adams was our sixth president, beating out Andrew Jackson in 1824 in a vicious and very divided and controversial race. His presidency, according to the History Channel documentary, could be characterized by many failed proposals due to the number of Jackson supporters in Congress that were determined to undermine Adams at every possible turn. He accomplished very little because of these political games.
I remember that in my youth I naively believed that people in positions of federal power were there because they had the best interests of the country and its people at heart. I have since come to understand that I was foolish in my beliefs. This angers me. Not that I was naive, but that the lives of people are being used as pawns in this game played by the card-carrying political upper class. The nation is not being run by people who can run it most effectively. The political process that controls us is run, in my opinion, by out-of-touch wealthy aristocrats that see it all as a game that they get to play without having to suffer the consequences of their decisions apart from the political damage that they may cause themselves or their parties. But even then, when their part in the game is over, they get to retire with a very nice pension.
In my brief and imperfect studies of other nations throughout the history of the world, I’ve discovered that this pattern is always the case. Even from the first kingdoms and empires from thousands of years ago, this pattern bears out.
So, what’s the answer? What conclusions can be drawn from this that might lead us to something that can break this cycle of greed and corruption that characterizes and destroys civilizations of mankind? I came to the same conclusion that I’d come to in the past when pondering this: mankind is simply incapable of governing itself well for any length of time. Greed and corruption will always enter into the picture at some point, usually sooner than later. The reason for this is that it’s in our nature as human beings. As the saying goes, power corrupts. The only way for a civilization to avoid this is to have a completely selfless, benevolent, loving, and just individual to govern a people. The problem with this conclusion is that no human being that we can elect as president encompasses these qualities.
I think Malcolm Muggeridge, the British journalist, sums up the only suitable conclusion that remains.
We look back upon history, and what do we see? Empires rising and falling. Revolutions and Counterrevolutions. Wealth accumulated and wealth disbursed. Shakespeare has written of the rise and fall of great ones, that ebb and flow with the moon. I look back upon my own fellow countrymen, once upon a time dominating a quarter of the world, most of them convinced, in the words of what is still a popular song, that the God who made them mighty, shall make them mightier yet.
I’ve heard a crazed, cracked Austrian announce to the world the establishment of a Reich that would last a thousand years. I have seen an Italian clown say he was going to stop and restart the calendar with his own ascension to power. I’ve heard a murderous Georgian brigand in the Kremlin, acclaimed by the intellectual elite of the world as wiser than Solomon, more humane than Marcus Aurelius, more enlightened than Ashoka.
I have seen America, wealthier and in terms of military weaponry, more powerful than the rest of the world put together, so that had the American people so desired, they could have outdone a Caesar, or an Alexander in the range and scale of their conquests.
All in one lifetime, all in one lifetime, all gone. Gone with the wind. England part of a tiny island off the coast of Europe, threatened with dismemberment and even bankruptcy. Hitler and Mussolini dead, remembered only in infamy. Stalin a forbidden name in the regime he helped found and dominate for some three decades. America haunted by fears of running our of those precious fluids that keeps their motorways roaring, and the smog settling, with troubled memories of a disastrous campaign in Vietnam, and the victories of the Don Quixotes of the media as they charged the windmills of Watergate. All in one lifetime, all in one lifetime, all gone. Gone with the wind.
Behind the debris of these solemn supermen, and self-styled imperial diplomatists, there stands the gigantic figure of one, because of whom, by whom, in whom and through whom alone, mankind may still have peace: The person of Jesus Christ. I present him as the way, the truth, and the life.
Originally posted July 4, 2009 by Jono Martin