Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Candidate or Deity?

The most troubling thing about the various campaigns to elect the next President of the United States is how completely they have become religious revivals in form and substance. We are no longer looking for a candidate; we are looking for a savior.

I'm not talking about a simple breakdown in the separation of church and state. I am talking about the bi-partisan revival of an old religion, perhaps the oldest, the religion that satisfies the desire for a god you can see and touch, the religion that makes a god out of someone merely human. It is a religion built on desperate hopes, wild promises, and blind ambition.

Consider what the candidates are promising they can accomplish. The following list, by no means complete, is compiled from the platforms of just a few of the candidates:

* Shorten the work day
* Make college more affordable
* Increase the minimum wage
* Provide affordable and accessible health care
* End war
* Make the US energy independent
* Stop man-made global warming
* Support parents
* Care for children
* Expand the middle class
* Restore America's reputation in the world
* Improve the lot of women and minorities
* Reform government
* Strengthen democracy

This isn't a list of realistic political objectives for a four-year term in office; it's a prayer list, a list of hoped-for miracles. Unfortunately, it appears to be the kind of desiderata that gets people elected -- and deified.

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