CALIFORNIA, October 27, 2012 – Anyone that tries to help a friend or family member in bondage to destructive behaviors can testify to the power of denial. The emotional investment to justify actions or beliefs any objective bystander would clearly reject is both hard to understand or reason with.
I was reminded of this human failing while listening to talk radio (The Mike Slater Show, KFMB AM 760 San Diego CA). When our thoughts, desires and lives become identified with someone else, that person becomes the truth through which reality is judged. Reason and facts are replaced by an emotional attachment, an artificial “reality” through which any person daring to disagree will be immediately branded as ignorant, a liar, mean-spirited or some other favorite epitaph (xenophobic, homophobic, racist, etc.).
Denial can be common towards sports idols, when fans can’t accept their guy isn’t the perfect athlete (e.g., Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong), or towards nationally known televangelists (e.g., Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker), or anyone else placed on a superhuman pedestal. Extreme cases can border on the pathological, as when major historical events are completely disbelieved (e.g., the Holocaust, the moon landing).
As hard as it is to accept, denial of objective political reality appears to afflict almost half of this country. I’m not referring to denial of one’s own personal failings; I’m talking about an irrational lack of objectivity towards the most powerful office holder in the world – President Obama. It’s not misperception resulting from media bias, or the natural desire to emphasize strengths while glossing over weaknesses. The problem is a sustained emotional attachment that’s incapable of considering objective reality (2 Timothy 3:7).
Think back to the heady days of the 2008 Presidential election with the emotional hysteria and veneration of a man that nobody really knew. Obama grew up under troublesome ideological influences, had no competitive job or market based business experience, served inconsequentially in elective office, and claimed a Christian faith with little, if any, apparent acceptance of orthodox beliefs. However, Obama had a gift for oratory with a statesman-like veneer that played to emotion over reason (Ephesians 5:6). He was also a sharp contrast to the older, white, political establishment John McCain. By appealing to racial realities, minority resentment, victimhood, and white guilt, the Obama campaign fed the weaknesses of human nature and shrouded what it was doing with noble sounding higher purposes (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
It’s been four years, and now a public record is available to judge the “hope and change” rhetoric. Do we have a President: who reached across the aisle or who has alienated Congress; who understands the war on terror or who sees evil only on our own shores; who cut the federal deficit in half or who pushed it to catastrophic proportions? Do we have a President who accepts responsibility or who routinely blames others, who is more concerned about daily intelligence briefings or about his next TV guest appearance? Does he work hard to heal racial tensions or play to ethnic and class differences? Does he understand the economy, market dynamics and the need for personal initiative, or does he see government as an all knowing, all powerful parent? Ask also, has traditional marriage been encouraged, sanctify of life promoted, our military strengthened, employment rates improved, and our enemies put on notice?
Obama’s broken ideological worldview, supported by a large base of emotional groupies, has been tried many times in other countries and always found wanting (Jeremiah 23:16-18). If the last four years tell us anything, it’s that another four years would be catastrophic for societal relations, our economy, and world affairs.
This election, the choice is to continue with incompetent presidential leadership and further national disintegration, or to apply tough love intervention to protect the uniqueness of our liberties and freedoms (Proverbs 27:6a). In our form of government, it’s easier to bring about change through elections than by trying to change a politician (Jeremiah 13:23) or a large electorate emotionally co-dependent on a man who’s never been what he appeared to be.
In November, if those in denial vote in greater numbers than those who clearly see the danger, there’s little prospect that intervention by reality and reason will prevail by the next time around (Proverbs 13:18). May we intervene where we can; may we continue to point out the destructive path of false hope to everyone who will listen; and may the Lord help us all this November.
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