This article is from Issue 57: May/June 2012

Broken Politics

Democrats and Republicans both get it wrong. Here's how they can turn it around.

If one ever hoped politics would get less partisan and angry, 2012 has been a disappointing year. The rancor hurled by both sides of the political spectrum has been just as bad—if not worse—than ever. And it’s not like Christians have—at least publicly—been much different. The same vitriol appears among believers ... it’s just peppered with more Bible verses.

But there are some people who are trying to buck the trend. In their book Left, Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics, D.C. Innes and Lisa Sharon Harper come together from opposite sides of the proverbial aisle to wrestle with some of the most fundamental issues facing Americans today. Though both consider themselves evangelical Christians, it is striking how different their worldviews are: Harper is a Democrat, and Innes, a Republican. And yet they hold two things in common: 1) They both love Jesus, and 2) They are both dissatisfied with their own party’s current engagement with the public square. Both are fiercely committed to their respective political ideas—but both are also passionate about extending charity to their political opposites. We asked the authors to weigh in about how their own parties are getting it wrong, especially from a Christian perspective, and how they can get back on track.

The Democrats

By Lisa Sharon Harper

In the course of history, moments come and go when leaders rise up and lead. On the national stage of history, such leaders have not only shaped the course of American life, but their passion, their words and their actions actually have shaped America.

Consider the moment Republican President Abraham Lincoln received news that in the course of one day of fighting on Sept. 17, 1862, more than 3,600 American souls perished at the Battle of Antietam. The average leader might have been crushed under the weight of responsibility for so many lives. But Abraham Lincoln was not a lesser leader. Five days later, Lincoln led America full-throttle into righteousness, announcing he intended to formally proclaim the emancipation of every enslaved human being in states that had seceded from the Union. Five days—that’s all it took.