Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 15, 2013

LION AND THE LAMB: Our nation’s tribulation

By Ted Braun
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Our nation is going through a special time of testing these days. In an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, a program that has already been voted on, one of our political parties has forced the shutdown of our federal government. A number of influential dynamics have been at play in this drama.

1. Race.

There has been an effort ever since Obama’s election to turn the political stewardship of our nation’s first black president into a failure. His nominations and recommendations have generally been opposed at every step of the way. The issue of race has also entered the picture at another point: many of the states declining Medicaid expansion are southern.

2. Politics.

There has been an effort by neo-Confederate groups like the Tea Party Republicans to emphasize states’ rights (as opposed to federal rights) and to give support to their effort to nullify federal laws. This emphasis was a central one in the Anti-Federalists’ opposition to the U.S. Constitution in 1787. That matter was settled, however, by Article 1, Section 8 when framers included language giving Congress the authority to “provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States” and “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.”

3. Economics.

Two recent studies at the University of Toronto and the University of California Berkeley have demonstrated that higher social and economic class, based on income levels, education, and occupational prestige, is associated with a greater sense of entitlement and narcissism. Upper-class individuals also showed reduced sensitivity to others’ suffering.

Half of the members of Congress are millionaires or more. Is there any correlation here in their lack of concern and empathy for the poorest members of our society who have been left out of the health care bills they have been considering? A study at Trinity University has found that U.S. senators respond almost exclusively to the interests of their wealthiest constituents. The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved in financing the battle against the health care law. Through groups like the Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity, and Freedom Works, they have made it possible for television advertisements against the Affordable Care Act to blanket the public arena.

4. Ethics/Religion.

There have been some tortured rationales in the news recently trying to suggest religious reasons for opposing governmental aid programs. Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State and current conservative activist, states that there is “nothing more Christian than cutting needy people off food stamps” to end their getting used to dependency.

But the most tortured religious rationale of all was given by Tea Party leader U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in his 21-hour speech in an attempt to block the funding of the Affordable Care Act. “It is disheartening to know that the nation our forefathers built is no longer of importance to our president and his Democratic counterparts. Not only that, we are falling away from core Christian values.

“I don’t know about you, but I believe in the Jesus who died to save himself, not to enable lazy followers to be dependent on him. He didn’t walk around all willy-nilly just passing out free health care to those who were sick, or food to those who were hungry, or clothes to those in need. No, he said get up, brush yourself off, go into town and get a job, and as he hung on the cross he said, ‘I died so that I may live in eternity with my Father. If you want to join us you can die for yourself and your own sins. What do I look like, your savior or something?’ That’s the Jesus I want to see brought back into our core values as a nation. That’s why we need to repeal Obamacare.”

What Bible has he been reading?

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This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.