Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Really, Is Anyone Surprised?

I stumbled across this article from NPR today via Twitter about how the Obama administration "fought Washington and Washington won".  It cites a New York Times magazine article in which one of their reporters interviews a White House aide in depth and gets some pretty revealing quotes from the source about the administrations views and strategies, especially as we enter mid-term elections.  And the gist of it is that the administration was surprised that it got so much push-back and wasn't able to "change Washington" - and in fact, it's just politics as usual.  In my opinion, the Tea Party candidates that are out there are running on the same platform - "We're going to change Washington" - when, in reality, once they get there, they will have to play "by the rules". Just like the Obama adminstration found out.

I mean, seriously - seriously - is anyone really that surprised by these revelations from the article?  What boggles my mind is that the administration is/was mainly consisted of idealists who thought the strength of their ideas would change the way that politics are played.  AND that Tea Party candidates think the same way - they think that they can "change" Washington.  In discussion with my parents a few weeks ago, they stated that the Founding Fathers never designed the political system to be the way that it currently functions.  To which I laughed and said, seriously??  That there was never an intent for career politicians - that they would go back to their farms and work there.  Maybe for George Washington that was the case, but not for most of the other Founding Fathers.  Nor most politicians throughout the history of the United States.

The truth is anyone who wants to bring "change" to the way the country operates is going to have to push that change through the existing political structure - because that structure is not going away anytime soon.  So you better know and understand what "change" you want to accomplish and believe in it with all of your being, because it will not happen without a tremendous fight.  And you will need to not only work the political system, but also public opinion, while avoiding the traps of today's current 24hr news media culture - and do both simultaneously.

However, big issues can be changed and make their way through the political system.  Civil Rights reform did happen in the United States - though that is still an ongoing issue.  Women did gain the right to vote and wield political power.  Monopolies were disbanded in the early 20th century.  But the best example that I hold on to for any kind of change to happen within a political structure, is Adam Horschwitz's book "Bury the Chains", which is about how slavery as a morally acceptable institution was forever disbanded in 18th, 19th century England.  There, the reformers took on an institution that had been around since the dawn of time (literally - read your Bible) and banned its acceptance on any English shore.  It is a fascinating account of how morals, politics, and persistence finally triumphed, and if any reformer really wants to bring about sustainable change on a national level, they should read this account.

You have to work within reality.  But just because there is a reality doesn't mean that hope can't exist for real, significant change to occur within the structures of the current political and economic systems.  And the sooner that all these politicians advocating for "change" accept that, the closer we'll be to seeing some real strides made in significant issues.


Josh said...

I'd love to hear your thoughts sometime Lauren on what role you believe Christians and the church should play in the political structures. Are they to work within the system, as a prophetic voice from within and from without, are they servants to the system...or many of the other ways Christians and the church have related to political structures throughout time.

I realize that those answers depend on the context and political structures and powers in place in each country...but I'd love to hear your thoughts on this some time...maybe we can have you over for a late dinner or coffee sometime?

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

great post, and a great read!

Amber Rose said...

It's incredible to read something so well written and researched-- it's shocking how few opinions are backed up by facts.

I can't wait to read more of your blog dear.