My Musings

Politics or Principle?

Politics or Principle?

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama said, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian … it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

When he reversed this position for the 2012 campaign, no one asked if he still thought marriage was a “sacred union” or if God was still in the mix. Over 16 years, Obama went from supporting same-sex marriage, to being “undecided,” to opposing it, to “evolving” and finally to supporting it again. Maybe “sacred” means “flexible.”

In 1996, President Bill Clinton supported and signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. He recently explained why in a recent Washington Post op-ed:

  1. He said that 1996 “was a very different time.”
  2. He also believed that its passage “would diffuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more.”

In other words, it was politics. Today, he is righteously indignant against the law he signed. He wants it overturned. He considers it discriminatory and thus immoral. Two years after signing DOMA, Clinton got into hot water for failing to discriminate against a young intern and in favor of the woman to whom he once vowed to be forever faithful.

If sexual identity constitutes a minority group and legal grounds for redefining marriage, then should bisexuals be able to marry both a male and a female simultaneously since his/her “orientation” is, directed toward both sexes? Such questions are rare today because our public discourse is driven more by politics than principle. Our leaders put politics over principle because this impresses those who elect them. Thus, we get flexible politicians who use poll-tested rhetorical gymnastics to keep us impressed. Everything, including “marriage,” gets redefined. Here’s a short list of examples:

    “Choice” : A non-offensive euphemism for exterminating babies.

    “Compassion” : Politicians turning America into a welfare state.

    “Crisis” : Political opportunity.

    “Cut”: An actual increase in spending but a decrease in hypothetical spending plans.

    “Deficit”: An excuse to print money out of the blue.

    “Love” : Having sex with someone you may or may not know. Some colleges offer courses that use “love” to describe incest and pedophilia.

    “Lottery” : Government making tons of money off of the poor.

    “Marriage” : Something we cannot define without being bigoted toward some sexual interest group somewhere whose votes are up for grabs.

    “Marriage equality” : The absence of a standard for marriage. When you apply a definitional standard, somebody somewhere loses their “equality”

    “Not one dime” : Phrase politicians use to deny the cost of expensive new government programs. This works well today.

    “Stimulus” : Euphemism for paying off political cronies.

    “Reality” : Posed and artificially manipulated entertainment.

    “Unemployed” : State of life in which you are not looking for work, usually half the number of people actually out of work.

    Why do we reward leaders and reporters who use words so flexibly? Easy; we too have placed politics above principle. Words get stretched beyond recognition because our morality has no roots deeper than what certain constituency groups want or what sounds good.


    Photo Credits:

    Barack Obama

    Bill Clinton


About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.


  1. david vaneaton  April 19, 2013

    Excellent thoughts….and right on target.


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