Bad Ideas in American Government

Dear Reader,

I should preface this by saying that I am very happy to be living in this country. There is not another type of government that I have seen that I would choose to live under. The American system may not be perfect but it keeps chugging along and most of all it seems to somewhat negate the effects of our corrupt human natures (by not putting all the power in one person’s lap) so that I think it does about as well as it can.

Having said which, there are a few ideas fundamental to our political thought which I think tend to lead us down wrong paths.

The first comes early on, in the Declaration of Independence. It is the pursuit of happiness. Life and liberty are good rights to have. But where did pursuit of happiness come from? My problem is not so much that we should not have this right. It is how we take it and use it that bothers me. Americans seem to have interpreted the pursuit to mean that we are entitled to happiness and that it should be our goal. And we use this to justify a lot of wrong means. Even if you have the right to pursue happiness, that doe snot mean you may do anything you like to get there, ignoring the laws of God and man. Happiness is one of those things like humility that you can never hit if you are aiming for it. And happiness is not God’s goal for us. His goal for us, what He calls us to pursue, is holiness.

The second idea which seems to lead us down wrong paths is the separation of church and state.  Again, this is not an idea I am wholly opposed to. I do not want to live under laws proscribed by someone else’s religion and I can understand that they would feel the same way about mine. But I think in our hearts we have extended this separation. It is not longer just our government that needs to keep politics and religion separate, we separate them in the rest of our lives too. We compartmentalize. Beliefs do not seem to translate into action.

Finally, there is democracy. A great idea, right? But again I think we go too far with it in our thinking. It is not just about electing officials. Everything seems up to majority rule. Even the truth. My husband used to joke that if the question on Family Feud was “What is 2 plus 2?” the number one answer would be “five.” When everything comes up for a vote, we lose the idea that there is absolute truth which is non-negotiable.



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