Will we choose ideology or democracy?
Which is more important to you? Strict adherence to a particular political ideology or a functioning democracy?
Regardless of our party affiliation or political preference, each of us will need to consider this question.
I share these thoughts after another contentious election, and after President Trump asked for and received the resignation of the Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.
Acting Atty. Gen. Matt Whitaker, an open critic of the special counsel investigating Russian interference with the 2016 election, will now be overseeing the investigation.
This is clearly a conflict of interest, and as a result, we may be heading towards a constitutional crisis. I hope that this is not the case.
Regardless, I think it is safe to say that most of us have become fatigued by the relentless hyperpartisan political battle that has been escalating these past several years.
It seems that, to a great extent, both Republicans and Democrats in Washington have increasingly become willing to exercise just about any tactic in order to win the day.
The rules of the game have become secondary. As a result, the fight for political power has become a zerosum game.
Our politics is no longer about what might be in the public interest. It is no longer about playing by the rules. It is about winning or losing, come hell or high water.
Now please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we should be unwilling to stand up and fight for what we believe. But when we define winning as the other side losing, we will ultimately find ourselves locked in a fight to the death.
Strict adherence to a particular political ideology means that it becomes paramount to win at all costs. The defeat of opposing ideologies becomes the only acceptable outcome.
We see this today in our politics from both sides. When winning becomes essential, the rules and norms of a democracy no longer matter.
What does winning look like? Does winning mean getting our way? Or does winning mean that democracy is thriving, even if sometimes I don’t get my way? Each of us will need to consider these questions and decide how we will define the success and health of our nation.
My hope is for a better politics. My hope is for a more robust discourse on issues and policies. My hope is that we will move towards a politics that is based upon hopes and aspirations and not fears, lies and bigotry.
My hope is that we will reject the politics of character assassination and choose a politics that seeks to acknowledge the humanity of every single person, and all of creation, as infinitely valuable.
My hope is that we will be willing to embody these aspirations before demanding them from others.
Tom Carpenter, who recently retired from International Paper, is a graduate student at Memphis Theological Seminary. He was a Democratic candidate for Shelby County Commission. He and his wife live in Collierville.