This week had two important historical dates:
Ides of March: March 15th. This was past the date the Roman democracy ended and marked the downward spiral of death of the Roman republic. With the death of the emperor-for-life Julius Caesar people thought that perhaps things would return to normal. In fact things got much worse.
St Patrick’s day: March 17th. This is the day we celebrate a man of God who returned to the nation of his slavery to preach the Gospel.
Of these two perspectives one influences the political process and the other the heart of people. One is the perspective of those who would focus on the change of a system and the other a change of the individual.
The Ides perspective: Change the System!
So, if I could wave my magic world changing wand to change how we do politics in the primary season:
1. Make every candidate for federal office take the naturalization exam within 30 days of them announcing. They then would have to post their score on the front page of their campaign website. That score is to be verified and marked that it was. Whatever the score is it will not disqualify them but will be public knowledge. If they retake for the same election season, the new score will replace the old. They will need to retake the test every election season if they run.
Reason: Most important jobs such as teaching and nursing have tests for competency. While politicians do not need to be certified, they should at least be held accountable to what they know on basic civics and history.
2. The order of state primaries and caucuses of the parties would be chosen by raffle for 5 time slots. This would mean that roughly 1/5 of the country would have a primary or caucus at the same time, but the order would be random each election. There would be a new debate before each one held in one of the states in the upcoming slot. However, the number of candidates would be filtered down to at most 5 by poll before that point.
Reason: The whole primary season is one built off of momentum not on ideas, policies, or plans. By changing the state order (by random draw) politicians could not just follow the same pattern of states every election, plus if momentum becomes an issue the smaller states (those with the smallest amount of delegates) could have the chance of being first. Also, only 5 debates…
3. Debates would be moderated not by the media but a panel that is chosen the same way a jury is chosen: a large pool that each candidate could eliminate them until a certain number remain.
Questions for the debate would be written down previously by both the candidates and by the moderators. The moderator questions can include questions from the people of the states that are about to have their primaries/caucuses. These then would be drawn out of a hat and read, with the author(s) being stated.
Each candidate would answer the question in 5 minutes, and then be allowed a 1 minute rebuttal after all have answered. The microphones will be turned off when the time is up and turned off when the candidate is not speaking. If someone takes less than the time given that time will be given back to their closing arguments. We could even put each candidate in sound proof booths so they cannot just respond to other candidates but actually answer the questions.
If the candidate does not answer the question the audience will be allowed to boo, or a gong will sound (like the gong show), or they will be buzzed until an answer happens.
Reason: The debates either are a circus or a boring nod-fest. This way the moderators can not control the debate and those not chosen would be an indicator of how the debate will go. Questions will be randomized and not staged. There will also be control over talking points.
4. Abolish the party system! Have the candidate represent who they are by their record and ideas not a letter behind their name.
Reason: Lead the party and rule by mob rule. The Founding Fathers were scared (as they ought to be) of mob rule. When a demagogue can sway people dangerous things happen, there needs to be a way to mitigate that mob rule approach.
None of those things will happen, so instead of following the doom and gloom of the Ideas of March, we need a better method
The St. Patrick method: realize who really is in charge and change the culture.
Pray for the country. Pray for our leaders. Pray for wisdom for decisions that impact the country. Pray, pray all the time. Pray without ceasing. Let us serve in a hostile place, bringing the Truth that brings hope in a dark world.
Reason: God is in control. No matter who is in charge of the country, God is sovereign above all. He appoints those in power. While we can be grateful that our leaders only serve limited amounts of years (and not their whole life like a king would), we still need to respect those above us.
The early church faced Nero and other Roman emperors. Despite this persecution God was in charge. We, as Christians, are commanded to respect those in authority (Romans chapter 13). In this fallen world we will always be disappointed after the elections.
Tertullian, who in the year 197 wrote: “The blood [of martyrs] is the seed of Christians”. If we truly believe that God is sovereign and in control of all then we will have no other choice but to sacrifice our position, pride, and even perhaps lives for the sake of God because our real citizenship is of the Kingdom of Heaven not of this earth.
If the West falls this election year (or anytime in the future or all the scary unknowns) the church will still survive, God will still reign, and we will be all judged by how we live the gospel.
Let us leave the Ides of March worries and all become more like Patrick.