Scott Tibbs

Revisiting negative partisanship

By Scott Tibbs, January 13, 2020

David French again bemoans the rise of negative partisanship, and he has a really good point. I addressed this last week regarding divisions within Christendom, and many of the same principles apply. I am less troubled by general political divisions than divisions between Christians, but we do need to be able to live, work and shop with people despite profound political disagreements.

As is often my habit when making a general point, here is a caveat: Of course there are bad actors. Of course there are people who are dishonest, or hateful, or corrupt, and so forth. Nothing I say here means that such people should not be called out.

But it is troubling when significant numbers of people see those in the other party as lazy, immoral, closed minded or unpatriotic. We are all Americans. We have always had profound political disagreements, but we should be willing to look at the rank and file of the opposing party as people of good will who want the best for our nation, and do not want to subjugate the other side.

With that said, I do not believe that most people - Republicans or Democrats - hold this kind of negative opinions of the rank and file voters of the other party. It is easy for politically engaged people to be cynical of how voters view each other, because we see it so often in political news and social media. Once you get out into the real world, though, I see evidence that most people are just living their lives, working, socializing and raising children without enmity against the other side.

Where French is 100% perfectly on target is connecting negative partisanship to lack of religious faith. We live in a post-Christian nation, and the guardrails of Christian morality are slowly fading away. When we substitute politics for faith and lose the command of Jesus Christ to love our neighbor and pray for our enemies, cynicism becomes much easier. Christians are repeatedly called to remember that we were enemies of God and deserving of His wrath, so we are not better than those around us. Humility is a surprisingly effective antidote for anger and bitterness.

The answer, then, is to spread the Gospel, trusting that God will use us to call people to His Kingdom. God is omnipotent. There is no reason He cannot bring revival, if we ask Him for it.

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