With Tuesday’s US Presidential Election having been conducted, we have an opportunity to reflect on the rhetoric and hubris of the politics of the 21st century. Keep in mind that I am a political science major, I am passionate about political theory, and I love investigating the cross section of religion and politics. I like politics. I just think it needs to be placed into perspective. Lets consider some recent political rhetoric.
Obama’s campaign slogan in 2008: “Change we can believe in.” Perhaps. If by change he meant committing to place his nation further into crippling debt then, yes. Change. Perhaps not the kind “we can believe in.” Depends upon where you stand, I suppose.
Rudd’s 2007 campaign: “Kevin 07.” John Howard was the bogey man, and after the election, some second class rapper wrote a song along the lines of “The King is dead.” I think that gives Howard far more credit than he deserves. Rudd also; Rudd did not slay a King. He won what now amounts to a glorified popularity contest.
Fast forward to Romney 2012. In the third presidential, Romney says that America is the great hope of mankind, or something to that effect. His reasoning was along the lines of: because America is the last, best hope for mankind, you should vote for me because I’ll keep it that way.
Rewind 2500 years, and Plato dreams of the perfect ruler: the Philosopher King. It seems that Plato deemed himself to be the last best hope of mankind.
These sentiments are astray, to say the least. As Christians we should be actively involved in the political process at various points, depending on our capacities. We should be working for godly change in society, godly influence on governance, and we should seek to see Jesus honoured in the public square. To that extent we should hope to see certain things occur in the political realm. But what actually occurs in our societies is that we place our soteriological and eschatological hope in a sinful politician. We look to be saved and finally delivered by a person who is at the bottom of it, mired in the filth of their sin. Barack Obama is as lost as we are.
Many conservatives were gunning for a Romney victory on Tuesday. Local Christian social commentator Bill Muehlenberg has written a helpful post on the wash up from the election, and it includes these wise sentiments: “[Even] if Romney had gotten in, it would not have been the beginning of the new heavens and the new earth. It would in many ways have been business as usual. A Romney administration would not and could not usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Very true.
Jesus is the only person we should place our ultimate hope in. Regardless of political affiliation, we should recognise that he is King. Jesus Kingship over this world should be our starting point and finishing point for thinking about politics. Our hope is not found in Barack Obama, it is not found in Kevin Rudd, nor in Mitt Romney. It cannot be found in any politician, no matter how charismatic or brilliant. Jesus is the last and only hope for mankind, both for this life and the next.