Are you following the rule making coming out of Washington in the closing days of the Obama administration? Coal is now virtually impossible to mine and oil to drill. But set aside for a moment the wisdom, or lack thereof, of such policy, its questionable legal footing and its political small-mindedness and concentrate on the sheer defiance involved in passing such regulations at this juncture. I can think of no word to better describe this administration than “defiant.” This administration began with “I won,” proceeded to its signature accomplishment over the special-election-expressed objections of the American people (Remember electing Scott Brown? – most money I ever put into an election in which I did not have a direct stake) and is ending on this sort of regulatory note when the election just past was a clear repudiation of his policies. Obama is defiant of the express wishes of the American people and his certainty in his own rectitude is frightening.
Frankly, the change the nation most needs right now is an end to that general attitude from the administration. There have been countless electrons spilled describing Obama’s disregard for the Constitution and American political convention, but at play is something even deeper. Those are the means by which a principle is lived out, but Obama cares not for the principle. Obama has turned on its head the concept of government being accountable to the populace. At most he thinks it is accountable only to those that agree with him. The attitude frightens me far more than the legalities or the politics. It is an imperial attitude, not a democratic one.
During the Civil War Abraham Lincoln took bold steps with the legalities of the nation; they were necessary to maintain the Union. But Lincoln never gave in to the imperial attitude. In order to undo much of the most odious of the Obama legacy, and given the Left’s complete denial of the election just past, it may be necessary for our side the take similarly bold steps with the legalities and political convention. We must guard ourselves most carefully against the imperial attitude in the process.
The idea of the leader as servant to those being lead is the most Christian of ideas. No person ever in history had a greater claim to the imperial attitude that Jesus Christ. He was God incarnate, Creator and Ruler of all there is. And yet He was born among us in the most humble circumstances we celebrate this week. While Christ was on retreat, Satan tempted Him with visions of making Himself King of all, and Jesus refused. Jesus was mocked as “king” as He died on a cross. Jesus is King, but he has never been imperial. That is the attitude that our legalities and our political convention are designed to promote.
Whatever happens legally and politically in the Trump administration, my prayer this Christmas is for a restoration of the proper attitude to the nation and its leadership – for a reclaiming of the very Christian idea of the leader as servant. There is no better time than Christmas to pray this prayer and to reset our minds to the proper attitude. The highest points of the church calendar are the points where Christ was in His most humble circumstances – His birth and His crucifixion. This Christmas, amidst the gifts and the garland and the very rich meals, I hope to focus on the humble circumstances in which the Creator of all came to us.
He comes to serve. I can do no less.