Posted On March 29, 2022
This is part confession of what I have been guilty of in the past. I was set free from it awhile ago and I’m grateful for that. Some clarification might help for this post. It’s ok to be a member of a political party. There are good reasons to do that. The problem becomes when we so equate our identity with a political party that we forget or are blinded to who we really are. When we can’t imagine leaving our party because it is so tied to who we are, then we have a problem. And we have a serious problem in this country right now with this very thing.
Partisanship is a weird thing. It’s a part of politics, but not the whole part. And not even the most important part. The most important parts of politics are the public policy, how decisions are made, how we do things that benefit the whole. Yet partisanship ends up being the part most people think of and pay attention to when they think about politics. Why is that?
To say that politics = partisanship would be equal to saying that food = Brussel Sprouts. Yes, Brussel Sprouts are a type of food, but food goes way beyond Brussel Sprouts. Thank goodness. I think I would starve otherwise.
In our current time partisanship is at both an all time high and low. Fewer people than ever identify with a political party or are registered with a political party. And at the same time, partisan identity has become so very important for so many people – finding out someone’s political leanings leads to breaking of relationships, fights, blocking people, verbal violence, leaving churches, boycotting businesses, and more. Purity of belief has become the idol that we worship. And we suffer the consequence as a result. When correct belief or correct thought becomes more important than the inherent value of people, then it makes sense that violence and hatred and force become normalized. We have become blind to seeing the image of God in others, and even ourselves. We have shut our eyes from seeing God. We worship our golden calf and inflict our own punishment on each other. We create our own version of hell.
The idea of partisanship is “interesting” to say the least. We’re supposed to set aside our identity as Americans, fellow human beings, even our religious identification, along with other things that we identify with, and give our loyalty to something that exists for the sole purpose of winning elections for office. Do you hear that? Winning is the purpose of partisanship. When winning is the most important thing, beware. Winning at all costs is part of a creed and a doctrine. The larger creed also believes that the ends justify the means, that only the strong survive, and that might makes right.
The parties do not offer the public any services, goods, or anything that could be considered a public benefit. They literally exist in order to get their candidates elected to office, to raise money for the party and its candidates, and to try to convince people to vote for their candidates. They are experts at scapegoating and creating enemies to fight against. They are well experienced at ways of getting irrational responses to most anything. They are very good at getting people to part with their money for the stated purpose of offering a form of salvation to the members.
Granted, parties often try to present policy proposals and if they are really good, a vision for the future, but those things are rare in recent years. The parties seem too busy attacking people and figures in the other party. Too busy creating us vs. them scenarios. Too busy making purity tests that people have to pass. To busy following conspiracy theories that change in a whim and are devoid of reality or sanity.
Why we willingly attach ourselves to something that will not last, have been replaced in the past, and doesn’t care about its members beyond getting their vote or or their money seems rather mind boggling to me. Is our value so cheap that we not only give our loyalty to a political party for free, but we also willingly pay money and attention to them, parrot their rhetoric, and promote their ever shifting arguments sacrificing the people we always claimed to love and care about in the process. And for what? A political victory that we will only experience vicariously through some elected official who doesn’t know you or care about you beyond how you help them gain power?
No political party will be there at your funeral, mourning your death, comforting you loved ones. No political party will be there at important life moments. No political party will be there when you are in most need. No political party will be there for you when you are hungry, or alone, or a stranger, or sick, or in bondage. No political party will save you. They won’t even try. Because you’re just not that important to them – beyond your vote or your money. Political parties don’t see humans or the image of God in people. They see donors and potential voters – determining how many are us and how many are them.
Is it really worth it?