A GUY'S VIEW - A politician with a conscience. Wow!

Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity,
And I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
2 Examine me, O Lord, and try me;
Test my mind and my heart.
3 For Your loving kindness is before my eyes,
And I have walked in Your truth.
4 I do not sit with deceitful men,
Nor will I go with pretenders.
5 I hate the assembly of evildoers,
And I will not sit with the wicked.
6 I shall wash my hands in innocence,
And I will go about Your altar, O Lord”.
– Psalm 26:1-6.

The shenanigans of politicians are well known all over the world. This has caused many people to keep as far away from them as possible. As a result, good people with a contribution to make to their countries stay away from politics and leave the field wide open to self-serving hypocrites.

As part of the game, they point fingers at each other, but almost in jest, for the game is common to most of them. But the principled position taken by a member of the American Senate during the impeachment “trial” of President Trump demonstrates that it may be a mistake to paint all politicians with the same brush.

Senator Mitt Romney broke ranks with his party and voted to remove President Trump from office. In doing so, he knew, and said as much, that he would be vehemently vilified by the President and his supporters, including the members of his own party.

One may ask what separated Romney from the rest of his colleagues. He left this in no doubt. His faith in God, as he understands it. Romney is a devout Mormon and he could not in good conscience take an oath to be an impartial judge in the impeachment hearing, and then vote to support the President in the face of all the evidence that clearly showed his guilt.

He struggled to stand up for what he knew was right. The difficulty in doing the right thing evidences the power of wrong within the ranks of the party. Partisan politics is all about the paramountcy of the party: right or wrong. It is clear that only godly commitment can give one the courage to break ranks and defy the whip.

Romney’s words speak for themselves: “In the last several weeks, I have received numerous calls and texts. Many demand that, in their words, “I stand with the team.” I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind. I support a great deal of what the President has done. I have voted with him 80% of the time. But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.”

Few politicians place God, country and character above party. Romney did it, in spite of the backlash he knew would follow. He chose to stand alone because he recognised that one should never seek the respect of the wicked. When the wicked despise you, say hallelujah.

Blind loyalty to the party is the standard practice, but this may not hold perfectly true in British politics. Britain has a more mature democracy and, although rare, it is not unheard of for politicians there to resign on principle, regardless of what their leader or party thinks. That kind of principle is rare elsewhere.

Most people of genuine faith stay away from politics. Societies where this is the case are poorer for it. That is not to say that we should practice theocracy. Religious leaders can be as corrupt as
any other. However, people with a foundation in godliness are likely to be guided by their principles, and principled people are hard to find.

In Barbados we see some of the most vile persons quoting the bible in order to impress the unsuspecting among us. Churches are now part of the stomping ground for some. And we have seen alliances that have stopped the mouths of church leaders from criticising wrong doing or saying, “Thus says the Lord”. They have destroyed the credibility of the religious community in the eyes of many Barbadians.

Party loyalists make it difficult for honest persons in their ranks to stand up if it means going against the party line, for they can quickly turn on their previous lords if they dare challenge the party’s position. Owen Arthur is proof of that. He moved from saviour to villain in the eyes of his previous supporters when he refused to line up behind the party leader. He may now be back in the fold.

It is easy to say that we need more principled people in politics, but that call may be like a voice crying in the wilderness. I am afraid that untold damage has been done to the image of politics and politicians. But Mitt Romney has demonstrated that there are still persons who will not deny their true character for temporary popularity. The lesson may be that we should not always judge a man by the company he keeps. We should wait until one’s character is tested before we come to a conclusion.

Politics and religion may be an unholy mix, but politics, or anything else, and good character, will always be sound.

Barbados Advocate

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