Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting the Politicians We Deserve

Bishop Fulton Sheen, author of Communism and the Conscience of the West, once wrote, “A nation always gets the kind of politicians it deserves. When our moral standards are different, our legislation will be different.” He goes on to say that as long as the citizenry fails to appreciate the significance of morality in every sphere of human activity, including the political, they will not meet the challenge of Marxism. But today in U.S. politics there is a failure to appreciate a profound connection between the social values politicians embrace and their competence to govern. The city of Detroit, for example, is a paragon of failed leadership resulting from a disconnect between the moral values of the politician and the policies he legislates.

In one decade the city of Detroit has lost 25 percent of its population. Detroit residents dropped from 951,270 in 2000 to 713,777 in 2010. And according to the Associated Press, “Nearly 60 schools have been closed, and 30 more face the same fate this year.” And classrooms are projected to average around 60 students. During the same decade, studies show the graduate rate at 42 percent. Even U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan referred to Detroit schools as “ground zero” for education.

To repeat, the city of Detroit is a paragon of failed leadership. To be sure, the political and educational crisis in Detroit results from a disconnect between the morality of politicians and the policies they implement. When Christian morality is weak among civil leaders, the principles of Marxism and big government programs are advanced all the more. Until the gap is closed between Christian morality and policy-making, Detroit’s problems will continue.

This is worth repeating because the city of Detroit is a sample of what America may be tomorrow. On the national level, fewer and fewer U.S. politicians are representing Gospel values and the founding principle that small and local government is preferable to an all-powerful State.

There is an increasing concern and frustration among Christians that key issues for our nation’s survival are not being dealt with in a forthright and expedient manner. There is a firm resolve to advance a secular-liberal agenda among many U.S. congressmen on Capitol Hill . But those politicians representing Christian values are- more often than not -burdened with trepidation and second-guessing. Indeed, for whatever reason, these elected officials are deferential to the media and their political opponents; many times showing a lack of courage.

The reason for the disconnect between the moral values of politicians and the policies they legislate can found in the hearts and minds of American citizens. In most public schools, sad to say, there is an absence of religious and civic education where the connection is made between moral standards and politics. Certainly, we cannot expect State-run schools to make this connection. After all, the source where this connection is be learned, namely, the contents of Divine Relevation, is prohibited in public education. Therefore, the Catholic Church must take up this task and somehow compensate for this lack of Christian education. No doubt, the Church has to demonstrate this connection for the public or, as Bishop Sheen indicated, America will continue get the kind of politicians it deserves. As such, meeting the challenge of Marxism will be exceedingly difficult.

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