By: Jon Meerdink
Unless you are currently without a pulse, you probably know that the Supreme Court made a relatively controversial decision recently concerning the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Since Twitter and Facebook are the best places for nuanced political discussion, the social networks were immediately flooded with a plethora of opinions both praising and criticizing the decision, President Obama, Chief Justice John Roberts, the Constitution, and David Beckham (but for different reasons).
In today’s world, it’s easy to voice an opinion on anything and everything, without regard to your actual qualifications to comment on a particular topic. It’s also easy to criticize decision makers anonymously, completely ignoring any context to a decision or issue.
Now I’m all for political discussion. I believe staying current on issues is helpful and beneficial to a democratic society as a whole. But when it comes to things like Obamacare, the discussion gets reduced to talking points and sound bites so quickly that all sense of respect, fairness, and desire for an honest conversation evaporates almost instantly.
My job as a news reporter quite often puts me in a position where I get to see a lot of behind-the-scenes political stuff. I was right in the thick of things for Wisconsin’s recall election earlier this month and I had the unique opportunity to talk to six of the eight biggest political players in the state face to face. What struck me (particularly about those whose views differed from mine) was that when you stripped away the cameras, microphones, bright lights, and canned questions, basically all of them were kind, friendly people with a genuine interest in doing what they thought was best for the state. Some of their ideas were weird, some less so, but all the people were far different when they were out of the public eye.
This experience really adjusted my perspective. Rather than a prepackaged series of talking points, I briefly got a glimpse of the people behind the political facades, and I’ve found that’s a helpful thing to keep in mind whenever I enter a political discussion, particularly over something I don’t agree with at all.
Romans 13:1-7 offers some helpful advice for relating to politicians, reminding us that “there is no authority except that which God has established.” Not only are politicians people, they’re people chosen by God to serve a specific purpose. To me, that’s a comforting, freeing thought, realizing that any political decision, regardless of what I think, is a result of God putting someone in a place to do something. And if God put someone in a position in authority over me, what can I do but pay them my respect? I may not agree with them, but they’re at least owed whatever respect I can give them.
So if you find yourself in a position discussing Obamacare, the Constitution, or anything else with a political bent, do me a favor and remember a couple things. First, politicians are people too. Don’t be that guy (or girl) that spouts off on Facebook about what they’d do to the President if they had the chance. I guarantee that Obama didn’t wake up this morning thinking about how he was going to destroy the world. Give your elected officials a break, alright?
Secondly, realize that even if you don’t agree with them, they’re in power for a reason, and that reason is because God put them there. Do you really want to argue with God over his political choices? I mean, be my guest, but that seems like a losing battle. The better move, in my mind, is to pray for the politicians you disagree with. Pray for clear minds, humble hearts, and a willingness to do what’s best for the country. Above all, pray that God’s will is done, because then, no matter what, you’ll always be right. And isn’t being right what a political discussion is all about?