Posted on August 22nd, 2012 | Filed under Challenges, Featured, Leadership, Social Issues, Uncategorized
Tagged with America, conservatism, Conservative, ethics, Israel, morality, politics, rape, Todd Akin, Trust, women
Politicians say the darndest things. Of course, it’s never as cute as when kids say the darndest things. In fact, it’s usually downright awful. For example, on Sunday, Representative Todd Akin, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, was quoted as saying, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
First, there is no such thing as legitimate rape. Second, a half-way decent high school health science course would be sufficient to know that the second part is simply fantasy; female bodies have no such mechanism.
On the one hand, such comments are certain to alienate female voters and probably anyone with half a grain of common sense. On the other hand, such comments play right into the hand of a disturbing conservative political logic at play in the present campaign. The argument is circular, but can begin with the seeming inability of the federal government to accomplish much of anything that might be considered helpful on a range of social issues.
Conservatives argue that this is good because government is no good at addressing any of these things, or much of anything else, really, anyway. The argument continues that the reason that government is no good at addressing pressing social issues is that government is inherently untrustworthy. We are told that we should not trust the government with our health care, with educating our children, or with fixing the economy, to name only a few.
The circle of logic is closed by the claim that since government is untrustworthy, it should be kept from tackling any of the issues, and thus conservatives are justified in blocking any meaningful federal action.
Inept and inhumane comments such as those made by Representative Akin, or the antics revealed this week that were undertaken by conservative Representatives in Israel last year, play into this logic at the juncture of trust. Who would trust people that say and do such things? If such people have been put in charge of running the federal government, then of course we should not trust the government. While these events may prove detrimental to the campaigns of those directly involved, they help the conservative movement as a whole by bolstering the claim that the government is incompetent and untrustworthy to deal with the real issues.
The moral of this story is that the government is only as trustworthy as those elected to lead it. I agree entirely with conservatives on this point. Where I diverge is with their proposed solution to the problem. It does not follow that if these particular leaders are untrustworthy then all leaders are untrustworthy.
Instead, the responsibility falls on we the people. We the people must elect smarter, wiser, more competent, and more compassionate leaders. We the people must elect people who are trustworthy, and then we must trust them, not only in the short term, but over a sufficient span that we might gain some perspective on where their leadership is really taking us.
But first, we the people must do the hard work of recognizing our own untrustworthiness among our families, friends, neighbors, and communities so that we may participate in achieving solutions, along with our leaders, to the problems that plague us.
Image by Bluszczokrzew [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.