The last few weeks have brought to light the limited abilities and powers of politicians; no government seems to have fully anticipated the financial turmoil. For years the markets have been given a free hand, resulting in common sense being thrown out the window in the name of greed. Politicians passed laws that enabled and at times drove lenders to give money to people, who really had no business to get into debt. Banks took the cues and drove up the debts to unimaginable proportions.
Where does greed come in? Well, it all had to do with showing an ever increasing profit on paper, driving stock prices and managers’ bonuses ever higher. Finally the system broke. Unlike the familiar sign in the knick-knack shop, “You Break It – You Own It”, our current motto is: They Break It – We (the tax payers) Own It. It has already happened in the U.S., Europe is next and Canada may not be far behind.
So will a new president make a difference? What about a new Prime Minister in Canada?
One of the lessons from the recent crisis is that when push comes to shove it is the unelected leaders who make the difference. In the financial crisis it is the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke and the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson. The trillion dollar bailout (700 billion plus the previous bailouts last month) that effects, not only the US economy, but the whole world is their brainchild. Meanwhile President Bush, Congress and the presidential nominees were virtual by-standers as the bailout was introduced. It appeared the politicians were as much at a loss to what was coming next as the rest of us. Whatever the recommendations from the financial experts (the ones who got us into this mess) left the lawmakers with little to add. After all, this was a crisis. Immediate action was needed. Politicians pretended to have the answer, but they were basically left waiting for Paulson and Bernanke to call for the next move.
All this leads me to another thought. How much power does a President or prime minister really yield? For a number of elections now we evangelicals have been told that if we just voted for the right party our votes would have an influence on the moral issues of the day, most notably the reduction in abortions and gay “marriages”.
I was a great admirer of pro-life President Ronald Reagan. But sad to say, neither Reagan nor the current pro-life occupant of the White House, have had any measurable influence on these issues. Arguably there hasn’t been one less abortion, regardless of who occupies the White House. Currently we hear the same posturing, talk of the critical need to appoint Supreme Court Justices to overturn Roe v. Wade in the United States. In Canada similar thoughts are expressed, though the Canadian family values agenda is less in the news. The Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, is pro-life, but will that make any difference? How much power do politician really have? When it comes to issues of war, the power is obvious as we have seen in the United States and in Canada. But on the moral and social issues the influence of elected politicians is rather small.
The Scripture declares, some trust in horses and chariots but we trust in the name of the Lord. We could paraphrase, some trust in politicians and economists but we trust in the Jesus as our source, provider and guide for morality. Yes, a new president and a new prime minister will make some difference, but don’t look to politicians for moral and social guidance. Arguably the church´s best days were under Roman authority in the 1st century. No help from politicians back then, just believers “turning the world upside down” by preaching “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”.
Love to hear your thoughts whether you agree or disagree. Keep blogging.