December 1, 2018

The President: A Role Model for Proper Demeanor?

By In Blogs

For the life of me, I don’t understand what Russell Moore and others like him see in the politicians that they praise like eager participants in the secular, political religion.

For the libertarian, and even moreso for the Reformed Libertarian, George Bush Sr is the epitome of the corrupting influence of state power. He ravaged the Constitution, made a mockery of the Bill of Rights, was horrific in terms of centralizing and empowering the national bureaucratic machine, betrayed the individual liberties of the American people in a myriad of ways, started some new wars and escalated international tensions, enflamed the deranged drug war (isn’t Moore supposed to be especially in tune with the oppression of minorities) by helping to sponsor trafficking drugs across the Mexican border, raised taxes after promising not to (apparently only Trump should be responsible for lying in office?), promoted the idea that deficits don’t matter, and in almost every other way strengthened the vice grip that the United States Federal Government Empire had over both the domestic constituency and the international community.

George Bush Sr. was a tried and true Man of the State— an ultimate insider who rejected, by virtue of his daily activities and agendas, Christian ethics, conservative economic principles, and anything approaching a vague definition of individual liberty. Bush of course was not unique in this way; in fact in consideration of the entire body of American politicians, Bush was pretty plain vanilla, Rockefeller Republican centrist. He was a typical politician in that the politicians of the American state are dastardly and deranged— good and decent politicians in America are the exception, not the rule.

Now, it seems that the one thing the Russell Moores of the evangelical world can latch on to is that Bush behaved himself in a more refined manner than Trump. It seems like this is the standard: statism with a smile; democratic authoritarianism, but with manners; betrayal of the liberties of the American people, but done in a respectful demeanor.

Is this how we judge politicians? Is this the standard? Do we look to the President to be a nice guy— without regard to his actual and official activities?

I think everything is exactly backwards. I think actions speak louder than words. I don’t think that the cunning phrases, appeals of nostalgia, heart-warming narratives are to be the standards for judging the record of politicians.

Often, very bad men do not appear in our lives as Hitlers and Mussolinis. They appear as Bushes. They know how to behave in public; they have mastered the art of being socially put together. Wolves often know better than sheep how to act as the model lamb.

But who cares how they betray themselves in front of a camera? As a public figure who literally had control over our lives, our economy, the international order, he was a disaster, ethically and economically. He stood and acted against everything we should be working for as lovers of liberty and lovers of justice.

Here is a question: would you rather have a well-mannered statist and enemy of liberty or a socially obnoxious scoundrel who leaves people alone and who refuses to use state power to lord over his fellow man?

In judging the politician, Christians need to get better at judging his politically relevant activity specifically.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com