[Update 10/23/2021 I realize that my use of the phrase “standard politics” here can be misleading, and it is very important for me be to clear because otherwise the reader may think I am saying the opposite of what I am actually saying.
In my previous post on this subject I pointed out that the word “politics” can have a wider meaning: Any activity that influences the order of society. Within this wider meaning, “standard” politics refers to what the word usually means: elections, legislation, etc.
But an endorsement of “standard politics” could fairly be interpreted as an endorsement of the entire political system including the sense of granting it full legitimacy. This I do not do. The overall political system is strongly against us and Christians and other non-Woke people must hack the system, that is, use it warily and wisely to our advantage.
Mea culpa for possibly misleading the reader.]
This article continues my opposition to the widespread right-wing belief that politics is a waste of time. This belief contains enough truth to be plausible, but it causes our side to miss important opportunities.
The theme of my previous post was that our opponent is tearing down good culture and replacing it with bad culture, therefore some of our people need to do the work of forming good culture. And anything having to do with the formation of culture may be called “doing politics.”
In this post I continue to build my case by making a point about “standard” politics, i.e., politics in the ordinary sense of the word (voting, supporting candidates, trying to influence government officials.) Standard politics can sometimes be useful for our side, and we inflict unnecessary harm on ourselves if we always stay away from it. I do not try to specify exactly how our side can engage in standard politics; I only make the case that it is sometimes good for us.
In a comment on my previous post, Bonald says
I would not recommend Christians engage in politics in the first sense [i.e., “standard” politics], because its only effect will be to help legitimize an evil democratic order, and Christians will be pressured to compromise their beliefs for the sake of political alliances while almost certainly getting nothing in return.
While this is largely correct as a summary, a blanket rule never to participate in standard politics is incorrect. In the language of Christianity, standard politics can be a good work. We can vote for a good county sheriff who will block some bad initiatives coming from above. We can pressure good state legislators to pass just laws, as Texas’s recently did. (As I write these words, this legislation is in the hands of the judiciary, but final defeat is not a foregone conclusion.) Mayors, city councilmen and school board personnel, among others, can still do good if we vote them into office.
While the overall political system is controlled by our opponent and is designed to frustrate our efforts, wisely-directed political action can benefit our people.
In the traditional American understanding, voting and influencing government officials are required of citizens because without mass participation, the political process is delegitimized. Traditional civic virtue required, at minimum, voting in every election. But this is no longer the case. At the national level, and at many state levels, the political system is mostly controlled by our opponent and is administered with the intent to harm us.
But this still leaves politics at many local and state levels as fields where we can still do good works, if we exercise discernment. Will the candidate for whom you are considering voting really fight for our interests? You have to assume the answer is “no” until strong evidence to the contrary is brought to light. But those who do fight for us deserve our support because it is within our power to put them in office.
We also must not place too much hope in the standard political process. Ordinary people have little influence on political outcomes, except in a few specific instances. Discernment is needed to locate these exceptional cases and then apply the right force.
The political system is deceptive. If you lack political discernment it is better not to vote than to vote foolishly. Politics is also a very emotional subject for many people. They often turn away in anger when their desires are repeatedly frustrated.
But we must not cede the entire field to our opponent. Politics resembles war. If you wage war foolishly you do more harm than good. But refusing on principle ever to engage the opponent does even more harm.
As Christians we understand that God controls the means as well as the ends. Voting can be a means to a good end.
We can also understand biblically the principle that we must not place final trust in politics. Ancient Israel sometimes went to war, and God often warned her not to trust in war horses and battle chariots, but rather to trust in their covenant God for the victory. But this did not mean that Israel was not to wage war. She was to use her armies as tools, not as idols.
Politics, like warfare, is a means to an end. If we treat it as a tool, not an idol, standard politics can be a good work.