There is no clear-cut definition for postmodernism, but it does seem to encompass two general facets of philosophy — 1) that all ‘truth’ is relative to the individual, that it is, essentially, whatever you make of it, and 2) a strong focus on relationship, both to people and to the world and nature in general. Listening to another political talk-show on the way back from New York last night, a connection clicked into place.
Politicians today are expert post-modernists in action. To them all truth is relative, subject to the whims of whoever is strong enough to sculpt it and make their message heard to the populace. Every single event is open for interpretation, and so the focus is not on finding out what happened but on putting a spin on the event that provides an advantage to one’s own party/organization/lobby group, etc. The only real truth in politics is power — how to attain it, and how to keep it. All else is relative to that. There is no such thing as truth or lies — only political advantage gained from remaking events and history so that they favor oneself. There is no such thing as good or evil — only people who serve as pawns to cast the politician in a favorable light. There are no good or bad ethics — except where it serves the politician to point out one’s own good ethics and the poor ethics of one’s opponent. Popularity is power, and politicians will do anything to gain that power and maintain it, whatever the cost. There is no concern for the people supposedly being served. There is only concern for one’s own political status.
This is the reason why we see so much mud-slinging on the political front. Since the truth does not matter, the only important thing is to make sure that when the dust settles, your opponent looks worse than you do. This is why so much of the information coming from Washington and other government sources is always cast with so much doubt — who can believe anything that comes from a politician when the only important thing to them is twisting the facts to cast themselves in the best possible light? This is why so many people are so cynical about politicians — they know they are being manipulated, and so the only thing they can hope to do is to choose the ‘best’ of all the manipulators. This is why so few politicians actually have plans for governing, and why those that do have plans cannot gain the cooperation to get them implemented — everyone is too busy playing the game of telling events as they want them to appear to actually make good and wise laws. This is the game that is played with our government and with our country. This is why we always feel have to choose the lesser of all evils when election day rolls around again. Truth is whatever the politicians can make of it for their own advantage, only that advantage has left the rest of us with the messes they don’t want to admit to because it would sully their reputations and whatever political power they have gained.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to isolate this phenomenon to just one political party or another — they are all guilty of post-modernistic politics. There are notable exceptions on both sides, of course, and we can only hope that those who approach politics with genuine honesty and integrity can have some influence on the rest. I fear, though, that it is a losing battle, that all politicians will ultimately end up being dirty, rotten liars, that ultimately our nation will fall because our leaders are too busy twisting the facts to recognize real danger when it rears its ugly head. The irony of all this is that in a democratic society such as ours, we are the ones who give the politicians power. We are the ones who keep electing the same liars and manipulators to office, the ones who twist facts and events to suit their purposes. What is more frustrating is that we can elect politicians who seem honest, only to find out they are no better than their counterparts. The world of politics today is fraught with dishonest men, and finding the honest ones is becoming harder and harder to do.
This is why I believe we need more Christians in politics, not to push their religious agendas, but to restore a measure of honesty and integrity to the positions of power that guide our nation. It’s not an easy job, but I have a deep respect for those few who can gain those seats, maintain their integrity, and wield power with wisdom, despite the overwhelming force of dishonesty that they face. Pray for our leaders on a regular basis. It’s a tough job they choose, and it is made at least somewhat easier by the support of people who care about bringing politics to a place of truth and integrity.