A Political Opportunity

A month ago, when the election frenzy was at its peak, I was kicking around a crazy idea with my friend Rob: what if Democrats and Republicans just took turns? Since it’s apparent that we can’t reach any compromises, what if we just gave each side what it wants in turn? For four years, we give conservatives the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court. For one term, we take out the pro-business, free market, socially conservative, limited government ideology, and try it on for size. Give it a solid chance and see how it works. Then, the next four years, we switch to the progressive side and see how it works. After such an eight-year experiment, Americans would, presumably, be more informed than ever about the efficacy of each side’s policies.  

When Rob and I were discussing that idea, we both assumed it could never happen. Too crazy. Just a wild idea to kick around.  

Except now it’s happening. Two weeks ago, voters gave one side just about everything it wants: the White House, both houses of Congress, and — assuming President-Elect Trump makes good on his campaign promises — conservative Supreme Court justices. So what now? 

I won’t presume to speak for the Republican party, but I will point out an opportunity for conservative Christians. Evangelicals are fond of saying that we are in favor of equality and social justice, but that we don’t trust the government to handle it. We want a better life for all Americans — a just and flourishing city on a hill where all people are equal — and our faith-based social programs could bring it to pass, if only we could get rid of onerous government burdens.  

Well here’s our chance.  

If a Republican-controlled Washington really cuts taxes, if our religious freedoms (however myopically defined) are protected, then we’d better put up or shut up. We’d better match every tax break with new charitable gifts. We’d better crash some servers on National Giving Day. We'd better stand up for minority groups. We'd better lead the charge in providing for the widow, the orphan, the foreigner, the prisoner, the needy, the refugee, the transgendered, the Muslim, the underresourced, and the gangbanger. We’d better care for our neighbors more than Washington ever has.  

Because if we reach the end of Trump’s first term without noticeable gains in peace, equality and prosperity, then we may have to cop to the hypocrisy of which we are accused. And then give the government its turn.