We've moved into an odd confluence. Our political landscape used to be judged on issues that affected the day to day well being of American citizens. That meant that our political debate was dominated by disagreements over issues that we generally considered "political"....... taxation, immigration, job creation, foreign policy, farm policy, energy, national education policy, etc. We debated the democratic and republican views on these issues; we debated whether the solutions should be middle of the road, conservative, or liberal. We argued, but understood that these issues were purely political and we would be able to easily settle the debate in the next election.
But, though those issues are still there, we've brought an inordinate number of what should be non-political issues squarely into the political arena. There are too many issues that should be over politically and placed back into the non-political world, where the implementation of those issues can be decided. There are too many issues that should not be a subject of "political debate", but should rather become a matter of "moral implementation." They are the issues that are tearing us apart. They are the issues that are preventing this nation from coming back together to solve the real political problems that face us. They are the issues that are socially ripping at the fabric of America.
Let's look at a few of these issues from as non-political a perspective as possible. There was a time, not too many years ago, when equal rights for different groups of human beings was a purely political issue. By the middle of the twentieth century, however, there was a strong, almost universal agreement, that all people did, in fact, deserve equal rights under the law here in the United States. Interestingly, in 2013, if that question was posed to a sample of Americans, we would more than likely find over 95% agreement with the concept that equal rights extends to all citizens.
Yet this is still a political football. We no longer call it the denial of equal rights to specific groups of people. We mask it in political opposition to same sex marriage, the service of gays in the military, the service of women in combat, equal pay for equal work provisions, etc. Every one of these are equal rights issues that shouldn't even have to be spoken to in 21st century America. Yet they are issues that continue to dominate our political debate. This is not saying that any individual or, in fact, any church or private organization, can't hold different views than the national consensus. They are allowed that right under our constitution. A church that decides that it is not appropriate within their theological system to marry same sex couples has that right. The couple can then find another church.
The same argument should be applied to an issue such as violence against women or minorities. This is an area in which the final determination should have been decided years ago, and in fact, it has. This is another one of those equal rights issues where the laws should be clear. Yet we still argue the re-authorization of the violence against women act. We argue it because of politics, not out of conviction. We argue it because religious groups have taken religious policy and attempted to move that religious policy into the public arena. We tear ourselves apart because we allow certain conservative religious groups to trample on the rights of other groups of believers and non-believers. We allow religion to trump politics.
Which brings us to the real odd couple and confluence in our politics. That of religion and politics. We individually and collectively understand that there is a separation of church and state. Most of those who believe feel that they should render unto Caeser that which is Caesar's and render unto God that which is God's. Most of those who do not believe understand that the Jeffersonian wall of separation between church and state was to be an absolute one. That separation was designed to protect both the church and the state. One should never influence the other.
This is the conundrum that we currently face. We have a political right that currently adopts the beliefs and policies of the religious conservative movement and tends to apply the principles of that religious movement to it's politics. It allows many politicians to campaign and govern on an obviously theistic platform. That is dangerous. It is dangerous not only for the non-believer and for the liberal believer, but for the religious conservative too. As soon as government and religion become indecipherable from one another, the religion they represent becomes a movement of man and not of religion. It becomes subservient to all the vices of power and becomes, not a voice for betterment, but a vehicle for enslavement.
This country has to let these social issues revert back to the social institutions that must implement them. Let our government tackle the issues of government without these external pressures. Our country might be able to move forward as a United States.