Political Hypocrisy

I was listening to the radio this morning and heard Mitch McConnell criticize President Obama for “politicizing” the Supreme Court nomination. That comment immediately angered me and gave me a little window into understanding the frustration support for Donald Trump. McConnell accusing President Obama for “politicizing” the judiciary is laughable and is the equivalent of the hypocritical “pot calling the kettle ‘black.'”

Before venturing further into this critique, I want to make clear that I would prefer the Supreme Court nominee to be someone who respects the Constitution and is not prone to judicial activism, which is rampant in our courts. I don’t mean a “strict constructionist” as that term is batted around by conservatives because I don’t think it is possible to strictly interpret the Constitution in all cases. Judges have the responsibility of both enforcing the law as written and interpreting the law when clarity is needed. For example, what conduct constitutes “free speech” under the First Amendment has required significant judicial interpretation. But judges should not make law, as that role is reserved to the Legislature. Justices who are less likely to engage in judicial activism tend to be political conservatives, so I get the motivation of conservatives for delaying the appointment until the next president takes office (assuming their Republican candidate prevails). But let’s not deceive ourselves into believing that Senate Republicans’ conduct in response to President Obama’s judicial appointment is anything other than political.

Ironically, conservatives clamor for strict constructionist judicial appointees, ones who have deep respect for the Constitution, and yet these same conservatives flaunt the Constitution by obstructing the judicial nomination process. There simply is no basis other than politics for denying President Obama’s judicial nominee the “advice and consent” of the Senate. Nevertheless, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley stated promptly after Justice Scalia’s death that he would not hold a hearing on President Obama’s nominee no matter who was nominated. Now let that sink in. How in God’s green Earth is that not “politicizing” the judicial appointment process?

Conservatives are not alone in their hypocrisy. Following McConnell’s ludicrous “politicizing” comment, news coverage turned to President Obama’s participation in an attempted filibuster of Justice Samuel Alito’s nomination in 2006. To be fair, President Obama’s comments at the time justifying the filibuster were about his perception of Justice Alito’s qualifications. Nevertheless, President Obama also participated in obstructionist activity and now criticizes Republicans for obstruction. If you aren’t red-faced by now, you should be.

This political double-speak by Republicans and Democrats is exactly why Americans are so frustrated with government and why Congressional approval rating is in the tank. So many on the Hill seem genuinely disingenuous. It’s absolutely maddening. This is the very conduct that has fueled the fire of Donald Trump’s success. People are simply angry and fed up with politicians’ hypocrisy. Personally, I prefer not to support a reckless and immoral candidate in hasty response, but I definitely understand the anger and frustration.

My call is for Christians, both politicians and voters, to re-orient around Biblical principles. It is not enough to do something in the name of Christ without obedience to His commands. As the Bible says, “let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no”  [James 5:12]–in other words, pure honesty. The Bible also states that leaders are not to be “double-tongued” [1 Timothy 3:8] and that “empty talkers and deceivers . . . must be silenced” [Titus 1:10-11].  Oh how deathly quiet would be Capitol Hill if the Bible was a litmus test for leadership.

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20 thoughts on “Political Hypocrisy

  1. A quick note on conservative judicial activism. There has never been a case of progressive judicial activism greater than the activism displayed by conservative Justices over the years, from Dread Scott to Citizens United and most especially the political bloodless coup of Bush V. Gore. The US Constitution has (and had) a remedy to settle the conflict over the election of electors from Florida after that botched election, but that would have meant the electors would have been selected by a vote in Congress, which was controlled by Democrats at that time. The Supreme Court stepped in, without constitutional authority, to take up the Bush petition and settle the election in his favor. So the cry on the right of liberal judicial activism is not, and forever, hypocritical.

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    1. Fair enough. Not going to get into Bush v. Gore here, but your comment falls in line with my Post–Democrats AND Republicans are guilty of hypocrisy. I’m not favoring one party over another for this critique.

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        1. Why the exclamation? I was simply conceding to your point that conservatives are equally guilty of hypocrisy. I assume you do not mean that conservatives are the hypocrites and liberals are the saints? My post wasn’t intended to be partisan.

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          1. I do say conservatives are more hypocritical than progressives. The facts bear this out. To suggest they are both equally hypocritical is to ignore the verifiable facts. This is exactly what our corporate mainstream media does all the time, and it is partly why the GOP is in such bad shape this election cycle. We need a health GOP and a healthy two party system. That won’t happen if we don’t acknowledge the politically asymmetrical problems we have in America. Our ability to be politically neutral is hampered by our efforts not to offend anyone by assigning blame equally to both parties. Positive change also won’t happen until we hold corporations and businesses to true Christian standards of conduct.

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            1. I disagree and find both parties very hypocritical. By that I mean they don’t do what they say they are going to do, they cater to special interests, they flat out lie, they double-speak, the are opportunistic, they criticize the other party for the same conduct they are guilty of, and the like. Now what you might be referring to is hypocrisy demonstrated by Christians preaching Christ yet not acting Christ-like or Christ not being reflected in their policies. To me, this is a whole other layer and problem.

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  2. The other quick point I would like to make is that the only candidate who comes close to matching the Gospel of that Jewish man who championed the poor, the disabled, the sick and the powerless is Bernie Sanders. No one else in this Presidential race seems to give a damn about the poor. If you are serious about Christian values you have to be at least somewhat supportive of Bernie Sanders.

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    1. Except that Jesus only asked his followers to give their own money to the poor, where as Bernie wants to redistribute the wealth of others by force. If you don’t pay your 97% taxes, men will come with guns and throw you in jail. Jesus’s thoughts on taxes are clear: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Bernie has a lot more in common with Lenin than he does with Jesus.

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      1. The thing about Caesar was more about whether to submit to authorities other than Christ. Was paying taxes to an earthly king/ruler proper when Jesus was the true King? Especially when the authority was not Christian? Jesus answered that. He was not giving a commentary on the Christian’s participation in politics, generally. But what we do have is God telling us that all things are to reflect His glory and the Christian is to do everything word and deed in Christ’s service. This doesn’t mean He advocated our transforming our government into a theocracy but we aren’t supposed to compartmentalize our faith. Therefore Christians should shape government and laws to reflect Christian values. So, when God says He will judge nations for how they treat the poor, he makes judgments corporately not just individually. Some may help the poor while a large percentage doesn’t but He judges the nation corporately. So to say God doesn’t expect our government to reflect His values I find to be inconsistent with the whole of scripture.

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      2. Even Lenin has more in common with Jesus than, say, Milton Freedman, or Ronald Reagan. Jesus’ early disciples shared everything they had to provide for everyone in need. Healing the sick was something Jesus did every where he went. Jesus did it because he could, and therefore it was the right thing to do. He never denied it to anyone who couldn’t pay him. We have that power today and it is sinful to ignore those who can’t be cured because they have no insurance. Jesus’ power to heal was open to everyone, even the rich. Healthcare is a human right from a Christian perspective. Jesus also empowered the poor with a message of hope and redemption that the wealthy and powerful could neither suppress nor ignore. His message was not meant to comfort the rich, who he said had a greater chance of passing through the eye of a needle than making it into heaven. Today we worship the lifestyles of the rich and famous. We give tax breaks and great rewards to the wealthy. We shower many favors on them, but for too long we have ignored the poor. We have forgotten, as you apparently have in your comment above, that Jesus’ followers WERE the poor.

        The scripture you quote was’t a comment on taxes or money, but an exhortation to act according to the spirit of God. It was a warning to not get caught up in worldly intrigues of wealth and power. It was Jesus springing a trap on the falsely pious men trying to destroy him.

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  3. Yes and no. If you read my posts, you will find my critique of conservatives’ poverty policies (ex., The “Lazy Poor” Mentality). That said, giving the poor all they need versus structuring welfare to provide need while at the same time not hurting in the process by creating dependency, are two very different approaches. So, whether Bernie is on the right side or not is debatable. I agree with you that his passion for helping the poor and middle class is spot on. But it’s the details of the policies that reveal which policy is the most loving. My criticism for conservatives is they have not seemed to champion the cause of the poor as the Bible commands. Instead they generally want government out of the welfare business. I have expressed my concerns about that mentality.

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    1. Perhaps your views of the “poor” can be applied to certain public welfare programs, such as TANF, that involve a tiny percentage of the most vulnerable poor. These programs represent only a small portion of the social welfare budget, which, in turn, is dwarfed by the corporate welfare budget. My view includes the many millions of hard working Americans who put in over 40 hours per week, many of whom have two or more jobs. The median wage in this country is now just a few thousand dollars above of the poverty line, meaning nearly half of all working families must rely on some taxpayer subsidy to support themselves and their family. (It also means they don’t make enough money to pay income taxes.) This poverty wage subsidy is actually a federally funded discounted labor benefit for businesses. We have experienced 40 years of deliberate wage suppression. Corporations and big business owners deliberately stopped paying workers productivity raises the mid 1970’s. The national wealth of America has more than doubled since then, yet none of that wealth has gone to those whose labor generates that new wealth. It is to this topic, and these poor citizens, that Bernie Sanders speaks. The callous disregard for all of these citizens by both parties is positively not Christian. So the facts tell me that neither political party, despite overt support of some candidates by so called “born again” Christians, has any special claim on being Christ-like.

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      1. “So the facts tell me that neither political party, despite overt support of some candidates by so called “born again” Christians, has any special claim on being Christ-like.” Agreed. Polices built on Biblical principles look far different than what we see from either party. But this shouldn’t be a knock against Christianity; rather Christians are either not reading or understanding the Bible. Look no farther than “evangelical” support for Cruz and Trump. It boggles my mind.

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    2. While I sympathize with the Libertarian idea that the government shouldn’t be in the welfare business, I agree with you that, since it already is, it makes sense to reform welfare to help people who need it “get off the crutch”. I agree that Bernie seems sincere in his desire to help the poor, though I wonder if his high spending may make things worse for the poor in the long term. One of the (some would say few) good things Trump has said is that, while he doesn’t support Obamacare or a more radical socialist health care system for America, at least he wouldn’t let people die in the streets.

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