Why Bereans are not Republicans or Democrats–another story of Political Cronyism

Posted on July 10, 2014 by

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It is easy to pick on the Democrats these days from a Christian Political Economy perspective, after all, virtually every social policy they pursue is unbiblical and their economics is pure quackery.  Is quackery too strong a word?  Perhaps, but while paying lip service to the 2nd Law of Economics (Incentives Matter!), their policy prescriptions fail to acknowledge this basic economic truth.  So we have calls for increasing minimum wage to cure income inequality, higher taxes to support the welfare state, multi-year extensions for “emergency” unemployment benefits, and the list goes on.  As an aside, I have to confess my frustration as an economics professor:  the current batch of Dem’s gives me nothing to applaud them for.  When I previously taught economics at the Air Force Academy, we also had a Democratic administration, but it was Bill Clinton.  And while he had many bad economic policies (e.g., raising individual income taxes), he had many good ones (pro free trade, lowered capital gains tax rates, etc).  So I could both criticize and applaud.  But now I find nothing to applaud economically.  In any case, back to this post.  The Republicans, however, usually “say” the right things economically (but not always; the current immigration issue being a prominent example).  The problem is that Republicans compromise with the Democrats in ways that causes harm.  For a hypothetical example.  Mr. Obama wants a higher minimum wage, to $10/hr.  The Republicans say that is bad economics and will cause harm–and they would be right to say that.  So they compromise to $8.50 an hour!  So if they really believed what they say, they wouldn’t allow any increase.  But given the two parties, we often have to “hold our nose” and side with the Republicans.  But we must always remember, we aren’t on any political party’s side–we always ask, are they on the side of Godly values and good policy prescriptions? If they are, we support them, whatever their political label.*

So to today’s issue.  The WSJ has been writing about political cronyism in the Texas legislature over the past year (solidly controlled by Republicans) whereby elected leaders have pressured the University of Texas to admit favored family members and constituents.  Friends of politically connected Republicans have a much higher acceptance rate than those that do not.  As the WSJ says,

You can’t beat Texas for beef barbecue, job growth and political vendettas—and not necessarily in that order. The attempt to impeach University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall for daring to question admissions policy has now effloresced into a spectacle that has taken down University of Texas President Bill Powers.  Last week UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa asked Mr. Powers to resign or face a vote to oust him when the University regents meet Thursday. Mr. Powers submitted his resignation at the 11th hour on Wednesday, effective next June, but his departure will only increase the scrutiny of the growing evidence of political favoritism in UT admissions.

Mr. Hall, a UT Regent, has been poking into the corruption in admissions practices that benefitted powerful Republicans–so they tried to have him impeached.  But it has turned around and now the President of UT was forced to resign.  One prominent Republican pol has declined to seek reelection, and the others are all trying to distance themselves from the favoritism; as the WSJ relates:

Mr. Straus told us in an email that he has been happy to write letters for “constituents” but “never asked or expected any school to alter its admissions policies.” Mr. Branch said in a statement that it was his “duty” to send letters when requested by constituents, but that he later limited the practice to “avoid potential misperceptions.” Mr. Pitts didn’t return calls but he announced last year he would not seek re-election shortly after National Review reported he had lobbied UT law school on behalf of his son.

So what to make of all this?  One of the tenets of a biblical worldview is understanding the fallen nature of man–that we are created both Imago Dei (the image of God) and are yet fallen.   Each of us is fully capable of bad things.  So we must never get into the mentality that we’re the good guys, and they’re the bad guys–we’re all potentially bad guys!  And so individually we have to watch ourselves, understanding the tremendous fleshly ability to rationalize that what’s good for us is good for the broader group.  And in politics, we ever keep in mind that the question is not whether God is on our side, but is our side in alignment with Godly values?  In the case of Texas Republicans (at least on this issue), the answer is clearly no–God does not show partiality and neither should we (Lev 19:15, Romans 2:11).  We are to be salt and light to the broader culture as well as to political parties.

 

* There is a danger that must be carefully watched however.  If they have a “Democratic” label and tend to vote in most cases consistent with Biblical values, but are willing when it is a really close vote to side with the leadership against biblical values, then it’s not much solace that in general they vote the right way.  The same thing goes with a Republican that votes against our interests on the most important issues.

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