Here are some things you may have heard over the last sixteen years, and may continue to hear for quite some time to come:
1. “He’s not MY President!”
2. “You may not like him, but he is YOUR President now”.
Assuredly, thanks to predictable partisan politics, those who have been saying #1 will swiftly convert to #2 on January 20th, and vice versa. Very few will notice the inconsistency.
I have some good news for you. You don’t need to worry about winning this argument. You do not have to determine whether each new President is YOURS or not, because people do not have Presidents. Governments do.
As citizens of the United States we are not ruled by our government. We elect servant leaders whose sole function is to carry out the commands given clearly in the constitution. We do not work for our government, nor do we rely on our government to provide direction and moral guidance. We declared independence from Britain specifically to show that we do not need our lives managed by those with fragile claims of supremacy. We are capable of self-government.
This does not mean we cannot respect the President of the United States, or look to him or her for inspiration if they are gifted or skilled in this area. We certainly can. According to Peter, we should.
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 1 Peter 2:13-14
But don’t fool yourself. You are not fulfilling this command if you only adhere to it some of the time.
Much of the heartache surrounding presidential elections is a result of how we view the Presidency. We have gotten way off track. We have asked the President to do too much. In an effort to satisfy us past Presidents have taken on more and more authority to give us what we want.
The more opportunities the President has to be everything to us, the answer to our every dilemma, the easier it is to romanticize him and thrust him into a role as national patriarch. We do not need a national father. I certainly do not want one.
It is tempting though, if you are particularly inspired by someone, to elevate them in your mind and to combine them with your idea of a national identity. But we are a nation of individuals and we are way too diverse to form a collective (even if we wanted to). The core of our national identity MUST remain a commitment to individual liberty. It is where we started, and without it, we have nothing.
We should respect the person holding the office in the way that we respect any other minister we have selected and given important responsibilities. We should support them in their lawful activities, and hold them accountable in a civil manner when they overreach. If we are unhappy with the current office-holder, we are in the position to review his performance every four years and vote to retain him or let him go.
We don’t have to expend so much emotional capital lashing out at our elected servant leaders. Please, for your own sake, if you find yourself wishing harm upon any President, or calling them names you wouldn’t repeat in front of your children, just stop. Who have you become?
Instead of competing with each other to place a KING from our ideological tribe in power to achieve our goals, let’s agree among ourselves to limit the power of the President over our lives. Get to know your Congressmen. They have a more legitimate calling in the constitution to affect your life than the President does. Call them, email them, and attend their meetings. Keep them on a short leash.
The current President is not, and the incoming one will not be, your Daddy, your boss or your coach. Neither is Pres. Obama, nor will Pres. Trump be, your Lord and Savior. Neither are worthy of worship or starry-eyed devotion. They do not own us or control us, and we do not owe them any fealty. They are just men.
We have a life to live and it is not in the White House, or in Trump Tower. Instead of letting it consume us, let’s make national politics irrelevant again.