Newt Gingrich has come out with a public pledge stating he will defend marriage, oppose gay unions, and push for a constitutional amendment that will define marriage as “the union of one man and one woman.” A constitutional amendment!
He also pledges his own “personal fidelity” to his current wife and promises to “respect…the marital bonds of others.”
Let there be no misunderstanding about the purpose of this statement. It was made only to win the votes of very conservative Republicans and fundamentalist Christians. It has no other relevance.
Why didn’t Gingrich make this pledge before now, like when he married his third wife? There is only one reason. He has decided he wants to be the president so he puts out this self-righteous pledge that he will now take marriage seriously.
This is the worst kind of political pandering. It’s manipulative and disingenuous.
Why not say instead, “I know voters are troubled by my past mistakes and worry if I can be trusted to live by the values I advocate. I admit, I am not good at relationships. Commitment is difficult for me. But I am working on myself and I pledge that I will do my best to win the trust of the people who believe in me.”
The truth is we don’t want that much honesty in our public officials much less our president. And what is worse, we don’t even care what they do so long as they make the government work for us.
And in the case with Republicans, they don’t care about any values at all. They just want to win. They simply want to defeat the Democrats. They want to be in control of the country. Whatever it takes to do that is fine with them.
What happened to wanting leaders who actually looked out for the welfare of all of us? What happened to voting for politicians who promoted the “United” States of America and cooperated with all political parties to help keep us working together? What happened to the idea that in this country we will care for the old and the sick, the handicapped and the orphaned, the weak and the defenseless, the oppressed and those beaten down by injustice and taken advantage of by the corrupt and the powerful?
What happened to those Americans? What happened to us?
Today we tolerate and support and even incredibly want politicians that are mean and ruthless. We have accepted the lie that bluster and indifference and cruelty in our leaders are what will keep us safe and make us great. How far we as a nation have lost our way.
I think of that line in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.”
Newt Gingrich is not a leader. We all have flaws and he certainly has his. But he does not represent the kind of America I want. He tends to bulldoze opponents. His ego knows no bounds. He has a hard time relating to Middle America and for sure those hurting and in poverty. He may say he cares and so throws around some religious talk but it all sounds hollow to me. Where is the evidence that these words are true?
Marriage in this country, like religion, and so many other of our institutions is in big trouble. All have lost their relevance in a culture that cares only about consumption, power, control, ownership, and ruthless partisanship. We need women and men in leadership who understand this and have the courage to work and struggle for change.
In his book, The Tragic Sense of Life, Miguel De Unamuno writes, “And what we long for and have need of is soul—soul of bulk and substance.”
I’m looking for a president and other leaders who possess that.
© 2011 Timothy Moody