The president of the United States offered Americans a progressive vision of the future today based on the moral principles that have historically made our nation strong: reward for hard work, commitment to national service, and a strong national government that seeks not to overwhelm citizens but rather to assist our people achieve their highest aspirations.
Tonight as the president spoke most of the republicans sat in their seats as democrats celebrated the passage of new health care opportunities for children. Republicans also sat on their behinds as the president outlined new tax policies that will benefit the middle class while making the richest Americans pay their fair share. I think most viewers walked away with two clear observations about the republicans: they don’t like poor kids without health care but love really rich guys.
It really is a mystery how President Obama won this election. ;)
But for all the good plans offered by the President there was something bothering me again about the entire political process. The president wants to achieve what his chief of staff called the “art of the possible” in legislative victories.
I’m a minister ordained to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m not a politician. We have different world views. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite's words, written for United Church News, might be helpful in illustrating my point:
….we have a responsibility to proclaim, even demand, good stewardship of God's creation and to call to account those who are responsible for making this system work productively so that individuals and families who work hard can have the means to live. A story may help us understand the separate but related roles of proclamation and politics. When Ronald Reagan was elected President, as many of you doubtless remember, his first budget included many cuts in social programs. A group of clergy went to Washington D.C., myself among them, to argue with Congressional representatives that these social programs helped people get out of poverty and that it was wrong to engage in these wholesale cuts.
A few prominent clergypersons were invited to the Oval Office to meet with the President. Rev. William Sloan Coffin, then Senior Pastor of Riverside Church in New York City, was one of those invited. President Reagan patiently explained to the visiting pastors why these cuts were necessary, in his view, to balance the budget. Rev. Coffin replied, "Mr. President, it is up to us to proclaim that 'Justice shall roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream. Your job is the plumbing."
It is not up to us as church people to dictate a certain economic plan, but it is up to us to say loud and clear when the plumbing isn't working and the means of life is not flowing to most of the people.
I’m happy when new health care proposals to ensure children become law. But tens of millions Americans still don’t have the care they need. I’m looking forward to reading the Obama universal health plan that takes into account the “art of the possible.” My job, however, is to look toward the future with an eye on the impossible. After all, I’m working for the Kingdom of God and that means I’m bound to push the envelope and to advocate for the radical solutions people are afraid to bring up because they’d be “impossible” to achieve. “It’s impossible to achieve” is never a good answer to give to one who follows the resurrected Jesus, the child of God. In God, all things are possible. Thy Kingdom Come!