Tag Archives: liberty

The Golden Rule in Politics

There has been a surge of books recently on what the politics of a Christian should be. Wayne Grudem’s Politics According to the Bible, Gerson and Wehner’s City of Man, and Beckwith’s Politics for Christians. Carl Trueman’s Republocrats takes a more bipartisan, transpartisan or multipartisan approach, depending on how you view it. (Interestingly, none of these books is written by a political scientist.) I will have my own book out in October.

This is far short of a book (though they have a fine book, Keeping Our Republic), but EPSA members Matthew Parks and David Corbin have a reflection on the Golden Rule in its relation to the budget battle on Capitol Hill in their Worldmag column today, “Revitalizing Golden Rule Politics.”

But even if the Tea Party “brand” has been tarnished or the kettle has lost some of its steam, the movement has already accomplished two things of lasting value: It has forced political leaders to confront our fiscal crisis with more seriousness than we have seen in a generation and revitalized “Golden Rule” politics as the most just and reasonable way out of it. …

Is there a simple way out of our fiscal crisis? Not if simple means only tinker around the edges of the status quo. But Reagan and the Tea Party have reminded us of a simple principle that should guide all American public policy: the Golden Rule. Why is it right for the Tea Party to insist that we obey the (real) Constitution? Because it is the common rule of our politics and the common security for all who live under it. Why it is right for the Tea Party to call for immediate, serious action to reduce our long-term debt? Because you don’t leave your mess for others to clean up. Why is it right for the Tea Party to challenge “earmarks” and every other form of special tax or spending privilege? Because these do unto others what I would not have done to myself—making them work so that I can eat.

So it seems that our Lord’s Golden Rule entails the rule of law, in particular the principle that those who make the laws should themselves be governed by whatever laws they make. This is what John Adams, our second president, had in mind when he commended (quoting Harrington) “an empire of laws, and not of men.” If we could unambiguously establish that principle in Washington and in the fabric of American thinking once again, our government would be more just and more Christian at the same time.

David C. Innes is associate professor of politics at The King’s College in New York City, and co-author of the forthcoming Left, Right, and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Russell Media).

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Trust: The Other Deficit

Trust is at the heart of both Christianity and politics. It is essential to both the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of man when it is at its best. But in this column, I have my eyes on the world. I reflect on political moral legitimacy in a representative democracy when there is a significant “trust gap” (“The Trust Gap,” WORLDmag.com, Sept. 15, 2010).

Government is about trust. This is especially true in a representative democracy, the form of government in which some people govern others only because the people have entrusted authority to them. In our democracy today, public trust is at an historic low. That means an astonishingly high percentage of the population sees an unacceptably wide gap between what the government is doing and what they would like the government to be doing in matters that are decisively important to them.

Given the trust gap, and given especially how widely and clearly the gap has been publicized, people are alarmed that the governing Democrats are proceeding with the transformative change that has brought them into such wide disfavor.

I go on to show how the Democrats have proceeded not only with disregard to public outcry and plunging public trust, but with redoubled speed with the change they had in mind in 2008 as opposed to the change the public expected. I argue that while Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have the legal right to do what they’re doing, even to the point of effecting a Lame Duck Revolution, with such low public support it has the character of tyranny.

EPSA member Harold Kildow, a Locke scholar, takes my point further on our blog, saying this:

“Trust” is the sine qua non (without which not) for consent. The consent of the governed, the central legitimizing feature of a representative government, can only be present if both the institutional structure is trusted and the representatives are trusted. The tyrannous progressive coalition (shamefully including some Republicans) now in charge has severely damaged our institutions by running rough shod over the constitutional boundaries, but also by lying straight at us in a way that would make even George Orwell blush. They do not have the nation’s consent to transform us into a euro style social democracy (and they know it)–hence the long-wave reaction that is the Tea Party. Consent is given, and it is taken away. I hope it is not too late to matter. The world’s tyrants have not been overly concerned with consent, nor have they needed to be.

As usual, I stand not corrected but helpfully supplemented.

– D.C. Innes, Associate Professor of Politics, The King’s College, New York City.