by Elgin Hushbeck
For all but the most dogmatic Christians, living in the real world is full of compromises. This is probably one of the reasons monasticism has played a significant role in the history of Christianity. There is something appealing about cutting oneself off and just living as Christ would want us to live, free from the temptations of the world.
Whatever your theological stance on these issues, most Christians do not have the ability to cut themselves off so completely and often; we are faced with having to make compromises. This can be particularly true when it comes to influencing our society as citizens of a democratic government. (Note, I use democratic in its broad sense that would include a number of types of democratic governments including a republic, and not just direct democracy). Rarely do we have a choice between candidates we can fully support, and often we are trying to choose the better of two evils.
Some try to avoid the choice by not participating. But this is also a compromise. We abandon our duty to be good citizens, and we abandon our ability to shape the society. For me, the famous line “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” sums up the problem I have with such a view.
The opposite of not participating at all is always supporting “your side” no matter what. In the last 45 years, both the Democrat and Republican parties have faced just such a choice. For the Republicans, the choice came in the early 1970. While many rallied to President Nixon as the Watergate scandal began to unfold, seeing it as the result of political attacks and a liberal media, eventually a point was reached where it became clear that Nixon had committed obstruction of justice. In short, whatever role politics played in the accusations of his opponents, Nixon broke the law, and that could not be acceptable in a President. As a result, a delegation of Republicans led by Senator Barry Goldwater went to the White House and demanded that Nixon resign.
The Democrats faced their choice in the mid-1990s with the Clintons and their numerous scandals from their time in Arkansas, violating campaign finance laws, shady trade dealing with China, and of course the claims of philandering, sexual harassment and even a rape charge.
Like the Republicans and Nixon in the early days of Watergate, Democrats rejected all of these as politically motivated attacks, despite the fact that there were a number of convictions of those close to the Clintons. Then, like Nixon, eventually it became clear that Clinton had committed obstruction of Justice, but in addition, and unlike Nixon, he also committed perjury. Yet rather than a delegation of Democrats going and asking Clinton to resign, a large number went to hold a rally of support. Their guy was to be defended no matter what. As a result, Clinton survived impeachment, though he was the only President who had to negotiate a plea bargain so that he would not be arrested upon leaving office.
Such things are rarely one-off events. If people know there will be no consequences for bad actions, they are much more likely to act badly. Thus in the current administration, several officials have been caught lying to Congress with no consequences. James Clapper, when confronted with his lie, passed it off as the “least untruthful” answer. But then the President himself has been shown to have lied on numerous occasions, perhaps the most notable being “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor,” something documents released showed the administration knew was not correct from the start. Then there is the more recent claim that the deal with Iran would have anywhere-anytime inspections, only to have Kerry say that was never even sought.
Now the Democrats find Hillary Clinton their main candidate in serious trouble having run afoul of the law. Once again, we get a long line of excuses that are shown to be false, only to be replaced with new excuses. There is also the suspiciously timed, extremely large donations, to the Clinton foundation from those with business before the Secretary of State.
Now, despite earlier claims to the contrary, we know that Clinton’s emails did contain classified material. Given that so much of what the Secretary of State does is classified, it would have been extremely surprising if they hadn’t. So she broke at least some laws, and the FBI is investigating. Aggravating this, General Petraeus recently plead guilty to giving his biographer/mistress classified material (reportedly his schedule – which as CIA Director was classified). What Clinton has done is far worse.
For nearly two decades Democrats have closed their eyes to the long list of scandals that surround the Clintons, and the Clintons’ lawlessness has been spreading through their party. Winning, not character, was what matters. But compromising on issues of character is different than compromising on political positions. Perhaps for the Democrats, the bill is coming due.