By Jeff Ziegler
Published March 1, 2002
It stealthily slipped through the House of Representatives in the dead of night at 2:35 AM Eastern Time, when most of us were fast asleep. It was then our illustrious Congress passed the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill. Now to the armchair inquirer who wishes a more pristine and less corrupted political process, this would seem to be a noble gesture. Unfortunately, Shays-Meehan is fraught with language that will severely curtail political speech and place a chilling effect upon the First Amendment of the Constitution. This was cognitively understood by all who voted in the affirmative for this onerous legislation, and thus brings into immediate question the motives for such actions.
Shays-Meehan is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is a case of the rulers against the ruled, of incumbent career politicians consolidating power and silencing potential adversaries. These ensconced politicos think of themselves as an indispensable element in the grand scheme of history, and hence, in order to maintain their office, are willing to trample under foot the very Constitution they were sworn to protect. While delusional as they may be, they are nonetheless men most dangerous to all things pertaining to the life and greatness of the Republic. These so-called “public servants” have succumbed to the “brass ring” syndrome and its intoxicating ale of power, intrigue, and self-aggrandizement.
A true statesman can ill-afford to be seduced by such perilous thinking, and yet robust examples of law-based ethical statecraft are very few and far between. Even the notion of statecraft itself seems to be outside the scope of popular political culture and the dazed ranks of the media. Hence, even well-meaning saints are susceptible to “offers” and quick promotions at the expense of accountability to the Constitution and, most importantly, to God. The temptation to tone down immutable moral positions, to wink at disloyalty to the nation, or to be “bought” by money or fame are constant, real, and present dangers. Yet, accountability to constituents, criticism from media or rival interests, debate, and the competition of ideas are all tools guaranteed by the First Amendment to help ensure that absolute unchallenged power will not corrupt a particular office holder. These basic examples of political discourse will all go silent under Shays-Meehan.
Those who would hold power at all costs hide in the shadows of campaign finance reform and its high sounding egalitarian words. Demagogic in their nature, insecure in their person, inflated in ego, these rueful magisterial creatures actually believe that we need them! Perhaps there may even be a few sincere, albeit naive, congressmen who with all the noble intentions in the world voted for this insidious bill. However, while naivete may be cute in a child, it is deadly for a statesman—especially one that would consider himself to be “Christian.”
The true Christian statesman must eschew childish thinking. He must be aware, alert, and have a mature acuity for his surroundings and the tactics of wickedness. His discernment must be properly exercised by reason of use and circumscribed by sound theology, applications of biblical law, and cogent understanding of the Constitution. He must develop the capacity for strategic thought so as to define the battlefield rather than allow his ideological enemies to define it for him. To this end, he must have an overarching, unflinching and godly political social theory. If he enters the public arena without one, someone else, or some special interest will be all too glad to provide one for him.
Unfortunately none of the aforementioned criteria is of much concern to the modern politico. Shays-Meehan was spawned by low-minded politicians who see politics as something of a soap opera. A soap opera filled with personal grudges, rumors, innuendos, petty self-centered tricksters, and paranoid weak personalities. In this play, Shays-Meehan supporters seek a vehicle to come out on top of this pathetic rabble.
At a minimum, Shays-Meehan will make for obnoxiously arrogant public servants. When played out to its furthest extent, such machinations lead to the reinforcement of the strong by the weak, the socialization of the unsociable by the antisocial, and the suppression of individualism by individualists. In other words, the creation of a great chasm between the rulers and the ruled. Such are the dangers of Shays-Meehan! Such corruptions are the bedrock for tyranny.
Rev. Jeffrey A. Ziegler, the president of the National Reform Association, is also founder and president of Christian Endeavors and Reformation Bible Institute, and host of “Christian Statesman Radio.” Jeff is also president of The Continental Group, a think tank for political activism. He can be reached at 35155 Beachpark Drive, Eastlake, Ohio 44095. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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