Owning the Political Circus

political-circusDo not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29

A recent article in our local paper revealed that there are hundreds of local elected offices in Minnesota that currently have no one running for them. Along with these vacant ballot slots 60 percent of all local offices in Minnesota have only a single candidate running unopposed. [1]

In regards to the upcoming presidential election the comment that I hear most often is, “I can’t wait until it’s over.” We are tired of the petty bickering, blaming and name-calling. Recent debates have sounded more like a middle school playground brawl. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say “I wish we had better candidates to choose from” I would find myself in a whole new tax bracket.

What I have not heard is any ownership of our part in creating this messy political circus. I have been appalled by the base level of demeaning and sometimes vicious commentary leveled not just at a politician’s position on an issue but against their personhood – and much of this from people who claim to be followers of the way of Jesus.

I do not believe that our public discourse is primarily a reflection of the candidates; I believe that our candidates are primarily reflecting our public discourse. And I cannot help but think that the drought of potential candidates is a reflection of people’s unwillingness to step into public service knowing that no amount of security will be able to protect them from the brutal character assassination that is so common on social media and in our public discourse.

The notion that things will somehow get better when the election is over is perhaps true only in that our mailboxes and television screens will no longer be filled with political attack ads. We are not merely victims of the current political climate. We are participants and perhaps even creators. Vigorously debate the issues? Powerfully disagree with a candidate’s position? Absolutely! But until we put civility back into our civil discourse I fear that we will only perpetuate the very thing we claim to hate.

What part of the political circus do you own?

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

 

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