This season’s Republican primary battle makes one wonder if the leading contestants have secretly signed a deal with a reality television promoter. It appears that every day brings a story more shocking than the previous revelation as the drama intensifies by the minute. While the plot thickens, the needle on the public shockometer hardly registers as people’s sensitivities are seemingly immunized to the bizarre dysfunction.
Georgia on His Mind
A few week’s ago, self made millionaire, Herman Cain, seemed to have a credible shot at winning the Republican nomination for the President of the United States of America. Many believe that the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza really entered the race as a publicity stunt for his new book. However, gullible Tea Party enthusiasts mistook this cheap marketing strategy as a serious run for the presidency and Cain was caught by surprise like a deer in the headlight. Nonetheless, it did not take long for the shrewd businessman to commandeer the halogen guided vehicle and turn it towards his bedazzled supporters as they pledged him unfettered support, blinded by his blunders with uncritical immobility.
Mr. Cain wears his lack of experience as a badge of honor as he wows his socially conservative base by channeling their thoughts. The colored man from Georgia who deliberately refused to engage in the struggle for civil rights has shamefully assumed the role of house n_____ as he repeatedly denies the reality of what most Blacks experience in America today. So skillful is he at his task, that in a recent conversation with her right-wing colleagues, Anne Coulter had no problem saying, “Our [Republican] Blacks are better than theirs.” (1)
Then came the accusations. Like a left hook from nowhere, supporters and detractors alike were taken by surprise as one woman after another accused the amateur gospel artist and lay preacher of unwanted sexual advances. The latest accuser claims that she has been intimately involved with Gloria’s husband for over a decade. As the pressure mounted, Cain defaulted to a strategy often shunned by conservatives—he played the race card. Unfortunately for him, it’s undoubtedly too late, and for different reasons than Ray Charles, he’s probably got “Georgia on his mind.”
Resurrection then A Rainy Night in Georgia
While Cain dreams of Georgia, the media has turned their attention to the new apparent flavor of the month. If I can conflate some of his media monikers, the new Republican darling is none other than slippery Newt Gingrich who is bent on stealing his chief rival’s Christmas. For many, the former Speaker of the House’s rise is nothing short of miraculous. Some have even compared it to a resurrection from the dead. Several months ago, everyone was reading his eulogy. Here was a man claiming to be one of the 99% with a $500,000.00 revolving line of credit at Tiffany’s. This was the same man who strategically timed an extended campaign stop for Hawaii that just happened to coincide with his eleventh wedding anniversary. So sure were his chief advisors of his irreversible demise, that they quickly jumped ship.
With Cain’s growing woes, all of Gingrich’s transgressions appear to have been tossed in the sea of forgetfulness. This Pennsylvania born Georgian has apparently risen as the new “Teflon Kid,” and as he did while functioning as Speaker of the House, he’s playing by his own rules. The Newt is clear that it’s either his way or the highway and he is totally unnerved when criticized for refusing to answer tough questions. He wants people to believe that there is no pretense with a man who led the lynch mob against President Clinton for lying about having sex with “that woman,” while he himself was lying to his wife about having sex with another woman.
Apparently, none of these quirks are serious repellants for anxious Republicans who are desperate for a face to displace the son of a Kansan. They are even willing to overlook the fact that during his years in the headlines he cozied up with Nancy Pelosi on global warming and publically endorsed several Democratic originated ideals—including government run health care.(2) Of course, he’s trying to backtrack now, but his public statements are forever engraved in the annals of history. I’m bracing myself for the roller coaster ride that is sure to accompany Mr. Gingrich’s rise in the polls, but will be surprised if he displaces President Obama’s apparent challenger. If I’m not mistaken, Gingrich will soon be sitting on a couch in Cain’s mansion as the two stare out the window next November as they listen to the election results on a “rainy night in Georgia.”
Alter Boy Needs a Midnight Train to Georgia
Even as the exuberant Newt Gingrich has craftily flipped the game board and is swiftly sliding up the chute, most pundits have hedged their bets on the former Governor of Massachusetts. Compared to Messieurs Cain and Gingrich, Mitt Romney appears to be an altar boy. As far as we know, he has remained loyal to one wife and nobody has accused him of any sexual wrongdoing. While he does not talk openly about his faith, he is reported to be a committed member of his church and holds the office of “high priest.”
The holy man who would be President is not without fault. So magnified is the target on his back that the Democratic National Committee has recently released a four minute YouTube video aptly dubbed, “The Story of Two Man Trapped in One Body!” (3) It is no secret that the “altar boy” is really an “alter boy”, who has no problem altering his position for his audience. The same man is pro-life and pro-choice, for government run health care and against it, and the list goes on.
Although his verbal hypocrisy is blatantly obvious, if things are as inevitable as they seem, all the Republicans who have disdain for Romney now will have nothing but plaudits for him post-victory. The Iowa Evangelicals will even suppress their feelings about their perceived cultic status of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and anoint him with their sullied endorsement. It won’t take long for the really observant to realize that the hypocrisy bug is part and parcel of the American political system. But until then, Mr. Romney who is viewed by some Republican hardliners as a Northern Liberal still has some hearts and minds to win in entrenched red states. I guess between now and next November, he’ll be taking a lot of “midnight trains to Georgia.”
As individual Seventh-day Adventists evaluate the potential candidates for next year’s general election, I wonder how many will include personal morality in their criteria for making a final selection? While it is obvious that there is no perfect candidate out there, do we have a spiritual obligation to assess the integrity of those who govern us? Are there reasonable standards of behavior that we should expect from our elected officials? Should we expect those who govern us to tell the truth, even if it castes them in a not so positive light?
With so much hypocrisy exhibited by candidates in both parties, some may be wondering whether we should participate in the process at all. After all, doesn’t our understanding of biblical eschatology embrace those clear predictions about the demise of society? Further, how should the traditional Adventist belief about the role of the United States of America in the final apocalyptic drama influence our allegiances to state and political parties? Could the sensation-seeking media be doing us a favor by obsessing over the fallibilities of those who may one day rule over (aka govern) us? Is the unnerving reality show a reminder to the people of God that the only lasting remedy for our societal ails is the inauguration of the kingdom of God? As you consider your responses to these questions, never forget that “a tree is known by its fruit.”
Keith Augustus Burton is the author of The Compassion of the Christ, in which he writes about Christian’s engagement in society.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/3631