Always take what political saviors say with a grain of salt

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At some time in my education in city public schools, either at JHS 73 in Maspeth or Newtown High School, I heard the phrase “the Man on the White Horse.”

This characterized someone who — fraudulently — would come to the rescue of a nation or a business in trouble.

During the presidential campaign, we will hear slogans put forth by these self-designated saviors of our nation. Early in the Republican Party primaries, at least one elected official walked around with signs proclaiming, “Wake Up, America, Vote [you fill in the blank]!” and “Save Family and Country [same candidate]!”

Later that same week, the candidate told an audience, “We need a new day in Washington. We need a new sheriff.”

This candidate made it clear she has a secure telephone connection to God.

Another elected official felt “more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs.”

This person, not a member of the clergy, also said, “I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will.”

He later compared himself to the prophet Isaiah, who answered a call from God.

Another one, also not a theologian, said, “I happen to believe that God wanted me to stay here so I could try and make a difference.”

In case you cannot remember these chosen ones, the first names are Michele, James and Herman. How soon we forget!

There is a candidate, named Richard John, who is wrapped up in religion. I am not privy to his connection to God, but I have it on good authority that his wife, who knows her place, has said her husband’s success is “God’s will” and he wants “to make the culture a better culture, more pleasing to God.”

She says he told her, “God is calling me.” She told him he should run because “this is God’s will for our family.”

Their hook-up to the Almighty, it would seem, is solid. Since this lady shows no signs of individual independence and since her husband has compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, you will pardon me if I point out that her life seems like an example of what the Nazis praised about women in their society: “kinder, kuchen und kirke.”

You do not need to know German to figure that out.

Some of what these people have said borders on the sacrilegious. We shall hear more of this tripe as time goes on. I am reminded that Albert Einstein said, “God does not play dice.”

Of course, we all, or most of us, long for a savior, right? Someone who will come along who will solve our problems. They shall bring us bread and honey without labor on our part and health and well-being without taxation.

No matter how many times these scams are proclaimed by politicians, there always are some who will fall for them. After all, someone, somewhere must have the magic formula which will end our problems.

In the late 1930s, Archibald MacLeish, a poet and former Librarian of Congress, wrote a play for radio, “The Fall of the City.” It bears out the truth of remarks of Cassius to Brutus in “Julius Caesar”: “It is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

In the play, an announcer is broadcasting from the main plaza of the city, which is filled with people. The city is experiencing strange happenings and the residents are distressed. Nothing seems to be able to help them overcome a feeling of dread.

A conqueror is coming toward them with his army. When he enters the city on his horse and clad in armor, the people prostrate themselves. But, when he raises his vizor, there is nothing there. The announcer reveals the emptiness, but the people do not see this.

They have ceased to care. Their savior has arrived. They shout with happiness, “The city of masterless men has found a master!”

The city has fallen.

Far-fetched? Perhaps. But next time you hear the words of one of our political saviors, make sure there is something behind the armor of their certainty about how they alone can save the world. Especially watch those references to God.

Better still, remember what a late friend of ours, a political district leader in Flushing, said: “Never believe what politicians say about themselves. Always believe what they say about their opponents.”

It works every time.

Posted 12:00 am, March 31, 2012
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