"There is nothing new under the sun," wrote Solomon. That’s what I thought when reading Jim Bishop’s book FDR’s Last Year. Bishop relates some of the difficulties Franklin Roosevelt had with Congress as his Administration drew to a close.
According to Bishop, FDR’s enemies painted him as a "rich man who had betrayed his own class with crushing taxes; a liar who had promised the mothers of America when he asked for a third term: ‘I hate war! I promise you, your sons will not fight on foreign soil.’ GOP leaders never tired of reminding the people that Mr. Roosevelt was spending $312 million every day on the war and that it was ‘his war – he enticed the Japanese to attack.’ Mr. Roosevelt had begun to prepare the nation for hostilities in June 1940 – a year and a half before the attack on Pearl Harbor – and from that time until the spring of 1944, he had spent $168 billion on defense." (pp. 21 – 22)
Change a few words, switch the political parties, and you could be reading about the current rancor in Washington, DC. Times may change and political parties may trade positions of power, but the story remains the same: Do what you must to win the next election, including defaming the character and motives of the other side. It was striking how, during the Mother of all wars, politics was as usual, myths to the contrary notwithstanding.
Lesson #1 from this sordid bit of history (which is representative of the norm during our nation’s wars and not the exception) is to understand that it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes (Psalm 118:9). The church will not solve the world’s problems through the election of the right leaders. Good leadership is a good thing, but power is a temptation few can handle. The acquisition and preservation of power too often becomes an end in itself.
Lesson #2 is to ignore the ground clutter of chatter coming from the wells of Congress and the talking heads of network news. They have their own agendas, and truth is a part of that agenda only if it serves their purposes. Jesus said the truth will set you free. Your obligation of citizenship is to seek the truth, or else you will forfeit bit by bit your inheritance as free men and women.
Finally, lesson #3 is to heed the admonition of the Apostles. "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." (Romans 13:1 NIV) "Fear God. Honor the king." (1 Peter 2:17 NKJV)
Love them or hate them, we have what we have, and they are due our respect. More importantly, we owe them our prayers, even if we voted for the other guy. For ultimately, we’re in this thing together.