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Scorning Democracy

When I was a kid, and a bunch of us wanted to get together to play football, usually there was no shortage of pigskins from which to choose. We all had footballs and, at certain times of the year, tended to carry them around with us much of the time.

But you didn't ever want to get in a game when there was only one ball. Particularly if that ball belonged to someone who was a jerk. Because if he got mad, or didn't get to be the star, or didn't like the way things were going in any way, he'd just take his ball and go home.

Not very sporting, I think you'll agree. And not the kind of kid you wanted to rely on in a pinch for anything.

Sort of like the state Democratic senators in Wisconsin. Knowing that by absenting themselves from the democratic process, and from their duty as elected officials, they could slow down and perhaps throttle a piece of legislation they simply don't like, they fled the state, denying the Senate a quorum, and throwing the capital into chaos and confusion.

This is not politics. Politics plays within rules, the rules of a democracy, rules to which the electorate and the elected agree before the game kicks off. These Democratic senators show that they actually scorn the democratic process because, if followed, it means a sure defeat for them and certain of their primary supporters - supporters who themselves are fairly scornful of democracy as well, denying the right to work to all but those who "join" their union and "contribute" their dues, dues which are funneled to Democratic candidates and office-holders.

The state Democratic senators of Wisconsin, off on a lark (on taxpayers' money?), are sending a message to the people of Wisconsin and the nation. The message is this: We love democracy, as long as it works for us. Otherwise, you can take your democratic principles and shove 'em.

Their behavior is beyond irresponsible. It is juvenile. It represents an attempt to become the law rather than to abide by it. They didn't like what they saw happening, they weren't going to be able to be the stars of the game, so they've taken their quorum ball and gone, not home, but to Illinois. It should make us wonder what else they do which shows such scorn for democracy and the law.

Christians should note here a violation of the fifth, eighth, and ninth commandments. John the Baptist wouldn't let Herod get by with violating the seventh commandment, and believers shouldn't give their state senators a pass on this, either. There are plenty of local newspapers, radio call-in shows, backyard fences, and coffee shops where Christians should be explaining, gently and reverently, that this is what you get when elected officials consider themselves a law above, not only the laws of a democracy, but the Law of God.

Additional related texts: Deuteronomy 17.14-20; Matthew 14.1-4 (cf. Lev. 20.21); Acts 23.1-3

A conversation starter: "So, how does it feel living in a state where the lawmakers can become a law unto themselves any time they choose?"

T. M. Moore

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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