“As a connoisseur of human folly, I thought you impatient to be savouring these delights.”
“Of some delights, I believe, sir, a little goes a long way.”
Mr Bennet & Lizzie Bennet in the 1995 TV adaptation of Pride & Prejudice
I can’t help but recall these lines whenever my thoughts turn to the freak show masquerading as an election, which is currently hurtling its way to its dramatic and awful conclusion somewhere across the Atlantic. Were the spectacle taking place in a small and harmless island somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, then as a connoisseur of human folly, I could at least take some satisfaction in watching two of the most disastrous candidates ever to run for political office make complete asses of themselves.
I should indeed be impatient to savour the delights of watching them “debate” one another, though just to make sure we all understand at what level this takes place, it would of course be preferable if both were made to wear nappies/diapers, and given a basket of toys to throw at one another from time to time. Preferably a basket of deplorable toys.
I should indeed be impatient to savour the delights of one of the candidates – the one with the thin skin, thick skull and toilet mouth – as he attempts to persuade people that he alone can save their tiny island from impending doom at the hand of the other candidate.
I should indeed be impatient to savour the delights of watching the other candidate – the sociopathic one whose eyes brighten and whose mouth salivates at the thought of starting yet another war – repeatedly accuse her rival (sans evidence) of being in league with the leader of another nation so that he can pinch the election – purely so that she can pinch the election.
Yet the delights that such a farcical spectacle might afford in a small mid-Atlantic banana republic tend to lose their appeal when it dawns on you that this is going on in a country with the world’s biggest economy (until it’s gargantuan debt finally goes pop), the world’s biggest military, and a political establishment in the grip of a delusional Messianic complex, believing that it is somehow the exceptional nation, the indispensable nation, the nation chosen by God to police the world.
As an aside, this is not the first time God has seen one of his nations, which he tells us are as a drop in the bucket to him (Isaiah 40:15), identify itself thus. And it should be noted that he is a past master of dispelling this delusion at precisely the point when such nations have reached the zenith of their hubris. Think Egypt. Think Babylon. Think Rome. American exceptionalism is destined for the same destination, and what this dumbest and most freakish of elections shows above all else is that God is already moving it inexorably on its way. As Charles de Gaulle almost put it, “The graveyards are full of the corpses of indispensable nations.”
This may well go down as the first election in the history of the world where the only possible reason a rational person would have for voting for candidate A is that they are not candidate B, and the only possible reason a rational person would have for voting for candidate B is that they are not candidate A. However, when those not wanting to vote for candidate A consider the nature of candidate B, and when those not wanting to vote for candidate B consider the nature of candidate A, it looks like rationality might not get much of a look in.
Granted, one of the candidates appears, at least on the surface, to be marginally less likely to lead us to a global war than the other. Isn’t that a rational reason to vote for him? Possibly, until you consider that the “marginally-less-likely-to-lead-us-to-global-war-candidate” often appears to decide his foreign policy by the use of a roulette wheel, and so whether trusting in the wheel can be counted as rational is a moot point.
The choice presented to voters on November 8th is on one level shocking, and on another entirely unsurprising. That so wealthy, so mighty, so great a country should end up with a choice between these two disastrous candidates is shocking. Yet it is at the same time entirely unsurprising. Psalm 115 tells us what happens when people worship idols. The central point is that people become like the thing that they worship. And if they become like the thing they worship, they are likely to be given – by God – leaders that are like them too.
Although there are still millions of true believers in the US, it has basically become an apostate Christian country (much like our own). The majority of its people no longer worship God the Father, through his Son, Jesus Christ, but instead they have thrown in their lot with the worthless idols. Self. Money. Sex. Success. Entertainment. Porn. Hard Power. Video Games. Exceptionalism. Why would it be surprising if the choice before the people was a fairly accurate reflection of these tacky idols?
As someone who loves much about America, has many friends in America and who works for an American company, writing all this makes me very sorrowful. The position of US President ought to be held by an upright, honourable, righteous person. Instead, the choice on offer is between a dangerous populist and a pathological warmonger, neither of whom anyone could describe as being of good character.
Actually there is another choice. The option in front of the people of the United States is God’s way of writing, in 10,000 mile high, flaming fireball letters, “You are a nation under judgement. Repent and seek me again.” I have no doubt that in process of time, he will indeed graciously turn the nation back to himself.
But in the meantime, what’s a rational American to do? I can only recommend the course of action suggested by one of my friends out in Idaho. He told me he intends to write in the names of King Alfred for President and Sir Philip Sidney as his VP. As a connoisseur of human folly, that seems to me like the sanest and the safest course of action to take.