Elections are upon us. Once again, we have few good choices, and many will be voting against and not for candidates. The ordeal threatens to become a replay of elections that have come before.
The slate of candidates thus far is demoralizing since it represents nothing uplifting. No new generation of brave and noble leaders is coming up through the ranks. The tone of the campaign is brutal and uncivil. We do not see a vibrant discussion of ideas but a constant exchange of barbs and insults.
These electoral choices are all there is. Thus, we are told to accept either these sorry candidates or nothing. No one has anything better to offer. There is no plan B.
There Is No Plan A
This lack of good alternatives is part of an ongoing political leadership crisis in America and the world. However, it is not the lack of a plan B that we suffer. The real problem is there is no plan A.
Plan A is usually presented as the ideal plan, with Plan B as a secondary, inferior backup. Plan A sets the standards for any strategy toward which we should strive.
In the case of our elections, we have no Plan A because so few take the time to envision what our society and its leaders should be like. Yet worse, most people have no desire for a Plan A because it entails pondered thought, effort, and restraint. It is easier to go with the flow of things and settle for Plan B.
Where there is a Plan A, we set high standards, hold strong principles and defend our Faith. It presupposes a spirit of self-sacrifice and dedication. Plan A represents the tendency to take everything to greater degrees of perfection and beauty that take us on the path to God.
A society based on this foundation calls forth from its population political leaders and statesmen that rise above their self-interest, discern the aspirations of all (rich and poor) and direct them toward the common good.
Everything Becomes Plan B
When there is no Plan A, everything sinks to Plan B. Without ideals, people pursue mediocrity and self-interest over the common good. They follow their whims without concern for others.
When there is only a Plan B, anything goes. There are few rules, and even these are broken with shameful audacity. Politics descends into a festival of shock, insult and sin. Brutality and vulgarity replace civility. Comfort and laziness take the place of honor and duty.
This only-Plan-B option explains the almost circus-like atmosphere surrounding the elections, where everything is measured in sound bites and hyperbole.
In such a climate, the mistaken notion is that the only way to win elections is to fight the opponent’s brutality with ever-greater brutality. Thus, each election cycle becomes an ever more intense slugfest in which each competes with the other to drive the level of the debate downward.
The election becomes a scurrilous and vilifying clash where rapscallions win, and respectable candidates lose. It’s not a pursuit of excellence but of sloven decadence, and it degrades everyone. It is the political version of Gresham’s law (“bad money drives out good”). With such deplorable political leadership, the nation becomes increasingly ungovernable.
The Sad State of the Body Politic
This commentary does not target any particular candidate now in any race. It is merely a sad portrait of the state of the body politic.
The candidates are playing the roles Plan B asks of them. On their part, voters encourage Plan B candidates by demanding benefits and entitlements to feed their self-interest and disordered passions. Each plays a role in turning our elections into conflicts of whims and wants bereft of any unifying and uplifting Plan A.
Thus, we should blame the only-Plan-B option for our plight. With our misguided self-interest and unbridled passions, we have spun a tangled web of our own making without lofty standards, goals or ideals. Our political scene does not inspire but disheartens; it does not satisfy but frustrates. This process will only get worse unless we change course.
Dare to Idealize
We must pray that the time will soon come when we will rise above our mediocre self-interest and expand our horizons to search out a Plan A. Indeed, many are already looking beyond Plan B.
In dismal times like ours, people start considering long-forgotten truths and traditions that offer hope and purpose. They turn to God for inspiration and strength.
Plan A is not something that can be imposed on the nation. It will come after much soul-searching and reflection and will be born naturally from those hearts that now grieve for America and yearn for a return to order, civility, tradition and Faith.
America’s future will be determined by those who dare to idealize a Plan A that will correspond to the desires of our hearts for a nation as it should be. Until then, we are stuck in Plan B.
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