Let’s see. First Michele Bachmann said God called her to run for President, then Rick Perry’s wife Anita said God was calling him to run, and now Herman Cain is likening himself to Moses and saying God convinced him he’s the right man for the job.
“I prayed and prayed and prayed,” Cain told about 100 members of the Georgia Young Republicans in Atlanta on Saturday. “I’m a man of faith, I had to do a lot of praying for this one, more praying than I’d ever done before in my life. And when I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do, I was like Moses. ‘You’ve got the wrong man, Lord. Are you sure?’”
All those calls, when only one person gets to be President. Bad connection or wishful thinking? I’d say a little of both.
Joking aside, it’s ridiculous and a little scary that this kind of pronouncement has become de rigueur for Republican Presidential candidates. These candidates are, of course, speaking of the Christian concept of God, and this poses a very real problem. We are a nation of many different faith traditions, of believers and nonbelievers. The President of the United States must be capable of building the proverbial big tent that respects those differences. Invoking the Christian God in this way screams exclusion in a country that was built on inclusion. It’s easy for Christians, who are still in a majority, to ignore this or make light of it, but imagine the uproar if a Muslim candidate told us Allah had called him to run.
Bristol Palin said this summer that people envy her mother because “she’s got God on her side”.
She’s got a good family, she’s got a good husband, she’s got awesome support, she’s got God on her side, and I think people are envious of that. They’re envious that she carries herself so well, that she’s smart. There are lots of vicious people out there.
Yeah, and there’s a whole lot of arrogance in that statement. If you believe God is on the side of some people but not others, it’s really easy to discount those others and their needs, beliefs and opinions.
Here’s another worry for me. All of these candidates are religious conservatives, and they’re reaching out to religiously conservative voters. By claiming God’s call, they are elevating themselves to the status of prophets. Whatever policies they support, whatever executive orders they sign, they can claim with impunity that God told them to do it. And because they claim that authority, their supporters will be very reluctant to question them.
When a Presidential candidate starts thinking he’s a modern-day Moses, it’s time to run, not walk, in another direction. The US needs a Chief Executive, not a Prophet-in-Chief.