Two days following the election, I rejoined a men’s Bible study at the parish church I attend. One of the other members is an interesting fellow I’ve known for many years. We both have law degrees, so I suppose our sense of camaraderie flows at least in part from the way we think about things. After we finished our discussion of this week’s Sunday scripture readings, he asked me a provocative question. During our closing prayers and petitions, I mentioned the hardships and losses of those still suffering from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy who are, as I am writing this, under another weather siege popularly referred to as a nor’easter. Many are still without heat or power, and the losses are almost incalculable.
The question my friend asked me was why did I think BHO won? Given my expression of great disappointment and emotional upset during our meeting, I knew he was not asking this from a political perspective. Rather, he was inquiring about a supernatural or spiritual perception. Naturally, I paused for an instant, somewhat astounded by the astute nature of his interrogatory.
I told him about a liberal acquaintance on Facebook who prayerfully asked on Election Day that God’s will be done and that He select the best candidate as our president for the next four years. I responded to her post by pointing out that it was not God’s will that would be expressed after the last vote was counted. Rather, I opined that the selection of the president would be an expression of the free will of those who cast their ballots either way. She thanked me for my opinion and stated that she hadn’t really thought about it in those terms.
It was not God’s will that the master of opaqueness was awarded another four-year term. That resulted from slightly more than fifty percent of those who voted and happened to be in the right states that tipped the electoral college in his direction. His take of ballot casters constituted just under three million more popular votes than Mr. Romney received. God’s hand was no more in the results of this election than it is when a psychopath enters a crowded movie theater armed to hilt and mows down scores of innocent film buffs. Sometimes circumstances collide in unexpected ways that result in a bloody massacre or, in the case of last Tuesday’s election, a horrid ending that has many, including myself, gravely concerned for the well being of this once great nation. For the first time ever, I use the adjective “once” to describe the state of our country.
As we left our meeting room, I continued to express my perception in an effort to provide some sort of answer to the question he initially posed. I want the reader to understand that I am not a far-right religious fanatic. Most Catholics are not, at least not the ones I know. Nevertheless, I told my friend that I think he won for a variety of reasons, some objective and some less so, the latter being steeped in questions of faith and personal beliefs. I mentioned the shredding of our moral fabric and the relativity of right and wrong that currently permeates our families, schools, and other public institutions along with new generations of citizens who expect something from others instead of deciphering what they might have to offer.
I thanked my friend for presenting his thought-provoking question and told him I was going to use it as a topic for my next article. Having given it additional thought and analysis, it is too easy to say that the people have spoken and leave it at that. There is much more to the story, as renowned radio commentator Paul Harvey used to remind us on a daily basis so many years ago.
From my perspective, the rest of the story can be summed up in two words – social evolution. I do not use evolution in the sense of positive adaptation to natural changes because the circumstances that have caused us to evolve socially and politically are not natural. Rather, they are the results of carefully orchestrated attacks and intrusions on what the offense has viewed an antiquated or inconvenient. We all know the party lines. I know I do as a reformed liberal myself. They are the slogans and familiar vernacular expressed in time-worn phrases like “do your own thing” or “whatever.”
The attitude that pervades so many quite simply stems from the unabashed shunning of authority and accountability. If someone engages in activities or behaviors that allegedly do not hurt someone else, we are told (and even I have said), no one has the right to tell that person to refrain. What so many fail to consider is that adherence to the rule of law does not stem from the right of someone else to judge and correct another’s actions. Instead, it flows from our implied or expressed conviction to respect ourselves and each other. Whether you like the Golden Rule’s succinct summation or you prefer more elaborate exhortations from religious books, it does not matter. What matters is an acknowledgment that we are responsible for ourselves and for each other.
This begs the question “what role does the government play?” Once upon an ancient time, the principles of organized government stemming from Aristotle to Rousseau taught us the simple premise that we need one another and as such are responsible for creating good political communities. Aristotle told us:
Since we see that every city-state is a sort of community and that every community is established for the sake of some good (for everyone does everything for the sake of what they believe to be good), it is clear that every community aims at some good, and the community which has the most authority of all and includes all the others aims highest, that is, at the good with the most authority. This is what is called the city-state or political community.
I cannot fault the liberal left for believing that their current body politic is firmly engaged in accomplishing “some good”. The standoff between us flows from what good we believe our government should be creating. When the notion of goodness become relative instead of absolute, the delegation of authority to anyone is convoluted and ambiguous.
So why did he win? Why does it matter anyway save for those in the GOP who are already casting dreams towards 2016. I’m not certain even God knows why, but I suspect it has something to do with the brilliant human characteristic He bestowed upon us that we call free will. In the words of that great philosopher/singer from the Greatest Generation, “what will be will be.”