By At the Threshold
The church is concerned with the way in which human beings relate to God, but this relationship is contingent on how people relate to each other, to their communities, and to the world. The Christian imperative to reform the church is a concomitant demand that the church reform society.
Last week, the Supreme Court issued a decision not to decide. The court refused to consider the constitutionality of laws that require each citizen to present proof of identity, an ID, in order to vote. The stated reason was that a decision at this time might cause confusion in the elections that are about to be held. In fact, the “non-decision” is as decisive as it is confounding; the choice to ignore constitutional questions establishes law in this election, and for the foreseeable future. In a bigger picture, it is simply the last move in a pattern of actions taken to roll back the “one person, one vote” decision of the Supreme Court in 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We will examine this pattern in a series of presentations, even if only in a survey. Seeing it, and understanding it, is of first order importance.
We are offering a short series of presentations, but it is a series that begs interactive dialogue between the readers of At the Threshold. Americans, and in particular those who grasp the connection between seeking the common good and seeking God’s will for human society, need to think together about the subject being raised, perhaps especially in this season of election campaigning. Please ask questions, make comments and argue for your views by responding here. We will publish your thoughts (with your permission) in a future AtT email. You can also share your opinion on the At the Threshold Facebook page.
This serial presentation is predicated on two dynamics that are in play within American historical experience. They are common to all political systems, wherever and of whatever form, but in the special American experience of creating and establishing a new form of republican government they take particular paths.
One dynamic is the general and ongoing struggle for domination of governance by one of the three general spheres of society, over against the other two: the polis, the techno-economic, and the cultural. The techno-economic realm has risen to predominance, focused on and driven by business and finance. If it gains sufficient control this would be termed a plutocracy.
The second dynamic, which is the first we will examine, is being worked out in the long American struggle for the right, and the actual opportunity, to vote by all adult American citizens without regard to class, privilege, wealth, power, belief, race, sex, or any other generalized category. This has taken place at the opposition of a significant portion of the citizenry – at every stage of American history – who sincerely and passionately believe that a certain order of elite should have more say in governance than the whole population – more than “the people,” acting through representatives. The age of patriarchs, kings and domination of the “high-born” has come to its end. But the belief in rule by an innately superior elite has not abated, and it has long been upheld by denying the vote to “others,” those who are not insiders, those who are not “in the know,” those who are not considered “stakeholders.” What were those who believe in government by the elite to do once everyone could vote due to acts of law?