Byfield: Should Christians begin moving resolutely into politics?
Preston Manning, the man who thought up, started, built and initially led the western Canadian political rebellion at the turn of the 21st Century, a rebellion that wound up winning three consecutive federal elections, has written another book. Only this isn’t really a book. It’s more like a manual on how practicing Christians can survive and thrive in modern politics. And not just Christians, some of their fellow travellers as well.
VIDEO: 100 Huntley Street interview with Preston Manning on his latest book “Faith, Leadership and Public Life”
Of course Manning wasn’t leader when the movement he started won those elections. He had been succeeded by his former policy analyst Stephen Harper, another Calgarian. The book is titled “Faith, Leadership and Public Life,” but the emphasis is on faith which, says Manning, has a great deal to teach 21st Century politicians of all political stripes. This is particularly true of Moses, who was decidedly unpopular with his own people, the Jews, for much of his reign.
Which, says Manning, newcomers to politics, who are successfully elected, should ready themselves for. They will find that their victory did not shower them with the instant adulation of a grateful populace. The fact is that the modern electorate doesn’t really like politicians. Every poll seems to show them as not trusted, regardless of their party affiliation. The first public response to any political report, Manning notes, is to ask whether it’s true. “What do we find? A political discourse that is so riddled with near truths, half-truths, outright lies and political spin that the public has justifiably ceased tio believe much of what politicians say.”
The proposed solution of the Chretien government, was to develop a “code of ethics” for elected office-holders and senior civil servants. This failed. Politicians exhibited “a chronic inability to recognize moral and ethical issues when they arose,” says Manning, “especially with respect to old practices, sanctioned by time, routine and habit.” Moreover, “there was a persistent defaulting to moral relativism, as an excuse for inaction.”
Manning devotes considerable attention to the would-be candidate for office, “It is particularly important that people of faith involve themselves in the democratic process,” he writes. Their motivations for doing so range from the unabashed pursuit of self interest to the selfless and altruistic pursuit of the public interest.” But how, he asks, “do believers avoid being deceived into believing that a call rooted in ulterior motives and ambitions is a providential calling?”
This article continues at [Ted Byfield Blog] Should Christians begin moving resolutely into politics?