Friday, June 3, 2011

The Debt Limit is Somehow a Theological Dispute

6/3/2011—One of the reasons that political compromise is so difficult these days in America is that our political Party coalitions have become convinced that the other side is evil. This extends to purely secular concerns, such as gun control. So, this is really not theology at work.

But there seems to be a theological aspect to the budget standoff in particular that has to do with government. According to news reports today, a downgrade of government bonds will happen unless the debt ceiling is raised “soon”. Such a downgrade would be a disaster for the U.S. in many ways, not least financial.

But the Republican side would pretty clearly be willing for this to happen. For all I know, they would be willing to stop paying interest on US paper so that no one would ever again buy US bonds.

The idea seems to be that government is an enemy. (The reason I don’t think this attitude suggests that borrowing is wrong is that there is no equivalent opposition to private debt, such as mortgages or business lending.) If government is an enemy, it would be good for it to fail, even if it engendered some suffering.

I’m not sure why government is an enemy. The actual theology of all this escapes me. Nevertheless, the religious right is definitely supportive of the Republican side in this standoff.

I would like to see the theological issues addressed. But I don’t see an honest theological debate going on. Even though theology in America really means Christian thinking, conservative and liberal Christians don’t discuss much in the public square.

Naturally theology in politics is always enhanced by self-interest. Republican strategists have concluded that even if they are blamed for the turmoil, President Obama will be the one harmed on election day.

This thinking is just stupid on their part. Obama is vulnerable on the economy in 2012. They are just giving him an excuse for the economy’s poor performance.

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