By Graham Glover –
Support him or not, this past week was one for the history books. Barack Obama just had what might be his most phenomenal week as president. From the Supreme Court codifying (once again) his seminal piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act; to the Court fundamentally altering how the Federal Government defines the institution of marriage; to his eulogy at the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston, South Carolina – this week, more than any other, cemented President Obama’s legacy for decades to come.
I’m fairly certain most of the readers of The Jagged Word lean to the right, politically. Many of you likely even lean hard right. I doubt most of you voted for the president and I suspect the vast majority of those who read this blog will vote for whomever the Republican Party nominates in 2016. Our readership is clearly conservative and not very sympathetic to the political results that occurred last week. Mine isn’t to argue the merits of the Supreme Court decisions (although, for the record, I’m thrilled with the decision on Obamacare; and while not shocked, saddened with the decision on marriage). Nor is mine to give a theological critique of the president’s eulogy. He clearly commanded the podium that day in a way he hasn’t since his mesmerizing 2004 Democratic Convention speech which launched him onto the national stage. Rather, mine is simply to state that President Barack Obama and his policies are, and will be for some time, a force to be reckoned with in this nation and around the globe.
When Obama was first elected in 2008, he said he wanted to be a transformational president in the spirit of Ronald Reagan. These 2 men are clearly on opposite ends of the American political spectrum, but even so, Obama knew that Reagan, more than any president since Franklin Roosevelt, fundamentally altered the course of our nation.
After last week, I think Obama has achieved his goal and will forever be counted as one of the most pivotal presidents in our nation’s history.
Because of Obama, no citizen of this nation will ever go without health insurance. There remain several adjustments that need to be made to its rules, regulations, and implementation. It’s not perfect by any means. But no matter if a Republican is elected president next year or not, I cannot envision the law ever being repealed. The GOP will campaign on it. They will not overturn it. Maybe even more than Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid – Obamacare will affect our population indefinitely.
Because of Obama and the justices he appointed to the Supreme Court, the institution of marriage, at least as defined by the Federal Government, has been changed in a way previous generations never imagined. Those who wish such a decision would never have been made are right. The results of the state condoning and sanctioning marriage between those of the same gender should concern anyone who cares about the cultural ethos of America. Proponents of the Court’s decision tout individual freedom, but this decision will ultimately erode the freedom of those who believe marriage is the joining together of one man and one woman. Again, conservatives may try to change what the Court has done, but they will not succeed. We cannot undo this. If anything, we should anticipate more change and a more radical evolution to sexuality, marriage, and personhood as the years unfold.
Obama may not been the first to confuse the tenants of the Christian faith as he articulated them from his office of president, but he continues the tradition of our elected officials trying to transform orthodox Christianity into something that is compatible with an American civil religion. On this, all of our politicians are in error. They are wrong. They are theologically flawed. But we shouldn’t expect anything less. We Americans like to speak of God in our own terms. We have a long history of doing this. We like to make our respective faiths fit our political wants. We want our social desires to norm our faith and in turn those things that we deem acceptable. The infallible Word of God, the authority of His Church, and the natural law that is written on all human hearts, are not normative for our faith, our politics, or how we live. Rather, we live, as then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger noted, amidst a dictatorship of relativism – a dictatorship that will continue to rear its ugly head in sadistic and offensive ways.
It was indeed a phenomenal week for the president. A week that we will read about and discuss for the rest of our lives.