Placing hope in politicians absolves too many of us of our responsibilities. In 1994, when Republicans were on the verge of returning to power in the House for the first time in four decades, one of the books making the rounds was "The Tragedy of American Compassion" by Marvin Olasky. The book traced the history of compassionate behavior and found that most of it came from individuals and religious institutions. The religious institutions offered hope by dedicating themselves to changing the lives of people whose bad choices had put them in need of help. Changed lives produced changed behavior and, thus, changed circumstances, leading to a more hopeful future. Olasky wrote that tragedy occurred when government began to occupy the space once dominated by religious and personal charity, displacing hope and leading to despair.
The "hope" being sold by Obama and his true believers is misplaced. Obama cannot deliver; he cannot save; he cannot improve individual circumstances by redistributing wealth and talking to America's dictatorial enemies. He is selling snake oil.
The writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews says that, "faith is being sure of what we hope forŠ" (Hebrews 11:1). What we see in Barack Obama is a man with great rhetorical skills, who is untested in battle. Many are projecting their hopes on him because he makes them feel good. What commander would put a low-ranking officer in charge of all troops during wartime? We are close to making Obama our commander in chief with no hint of how he might perform, other than to withdraw troops from Iraq.
A President Obama might be worth the risk in peacetime, but with crafty enemies seeking to destroy us, can we afford to make what might be a fatal mistake by electing someone upon whom too many of us gave projected, ungrounded hope?
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