Two Things You Should Never Do
If we are going to be faithful with our politics we need to make sure that our actions in the political arena are glorifying to God. Likewise, even if we are not direct players in the political system, we need to hold the politicians and organizations we support to a standard that is also glorifying to God. One way that we can do this is by making a commitment that we will never participate in two actions that are actually quite prevalent in politics: comparing one’s opponents to Nazis, and manipulating children to make a political point. While these two things are admittedly arbitrary—there are many additional actions that are equally frustratingly prevalent in politics—they will provide us with a case study for the manner in which we should engage the political realm.
On the first subject, we should all recognize that what Hitler and the Nazis did in the early part of last century was one of the most grotesque and heinous acts of history. And no matter how much someone dislikes George W. Bush or Barack Obama, neither one of them is responsible for killing millions of people. Likewise, neither of those men’s followers, no matter how blind and naive we feel they can be, are guilty of the atrocious acts of the Nazis. Obviously the reason politicians and pundits compare someone to Hitler is that it emphatically makes the point that this person is bad news. But an excessive overstatement such as this is not merely an exaggeration, it is political manipulation at best and an outright lie at worst. As followers of Christ we should be known for our integrity in the political realm, not for employing bombastic insults that contribute to the breakdown of the civil public square.
Our second example, that of manipulating children to bolster a political argument, is a little more controversial, if for nothing more than the fact that we all have enjoyed it when our side successfully employs this tactic. Children, however, are not highly rational, and while the mouths of babes can indeed speak to powerful truths, more often than not they are repeating the ideas to which they have been exposed. The reason using kids to make a political point is so effective is that their innocence is adorable and we all have a God-given desire to protect children. But the ease with which we buttress our arguments on the backs of our kids shows that, more often than not, we are more concerned with scoring political points than we are with protecting our children. Children are a blessing—one of the best blessings—therefore, let us not degrade them by turning them into a cheap political prop.
As we thoughtfully engage the political culture we should be vigilant in making sure that the destruction caused by the Nazi’s is never repeated. Likewise we must be vigilant in ensuring that the world is a safe and decent place for our children to be raised. But let us all pledge to not besmirch these two honorable pursuits by using them as tactics in the common practice of mudslinging and manipulation. By committing to this restraint we will contribute to a more civil public square, and in the process, demonstrate the character our faith requires of us.