Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Changing rules to win

For those of you that don't know it, today the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will elect a Senator to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy.  They'll go to the polls up there and choose between State Senator Brown and State Attorney General Coakley.

What's interesting is how they got to this point in Massachusetts.  No, not Senator Kennedy's brain tumor and death.  Rather, why they're having an election to fill the Senate seat.  You may remember that when Illinois need to fill the seat President Obama had, the Governor appointed his replacement. (no comments for now.)  Each state has the authority to determine how to replace a departed Senator.  Most states allow the governor to appoint one.

Massachusetts doesn't do it that way.  They did do it that way, until 2004 when Massachusetts Senator John Kerry ran for President.  Then, Senator Kennedy saw danger that the governor might appoint someone from the governor's party, Elephant, rather than the Senator's party, Donkey.  So, at Kennedy and Kerry's recommendation, the state Legislature changed state laws to require the special election.  This was to help make sure that no Elephant party member would have a chance, since Donkeys are highly influential to the state.

Flash forward to 2009 as Senator Kennedy is about pass from this life to the next.  What is one of the things he gives his last weeks to try and accomplish? He tries to get Massachusetts to change back to governor-appointed replacements.  Kerry chimes in his agreement.  Why?  Because they're now both concerned about people in Massachusetts voting for Elephants and not Donkeys.

There are a couple of lessons here.  Let's consider:

1.  In the United States, we are founded on the concept that the people have the power that is then entrusted to the Government.  That Our Creator has endowed people with rights and that the government is run to protect those rights.  We should be concerned whenever Donkeys or Elephants, really whenever anyone attempts to shuffle the methods of governing in the interest of protecting a party or interest group.  If they are afraid of the people, that's good, but we cannot allow the government to insulate itself from the people.  The actions in Massachusetts to change the rules to try and secure a certain outcome are as dangerous as the actions in Illinois to seek individual profit from the use of authority.  Both undermine the foundation of liberty.

2.  In general, when you try to change the rules to win something, you'll end up losing.  We as people are pretty bad about that.  We like the rules for a while, and then we decide, no, I don't like those rules, and so we go to change them. 

Don't think so?  It's human nature.  Put most of us in the situation where we are weak, and we'll cry out for things to be "fair."  Then let us be the strong, and we'll say "oh, survival of the fittest."  We'll rail against welfare and then take enough tax credits to cover all our taxes and then some, take a refund that establishes a negative tax rate, and count ourselves happy.

We'll fuss about the people that don't come to church and yet complain, and say "you should be here if you want to complain." Then, someone makes a decision you don't like and "everything needs to be announced and decided by everyone!"

Then we do this to God.  Yes, we do.  We ask for things and expect God to deliver, because, after all, we're good enough.  We don't do major sins and aren't that bad.  We want Him to smite the people who annoy us and bother us, without consideration as to what effect we have on others.  We want to be accepted by God no matter what we've done, but we have a list of people that should not accepted no matter what they've done.

It just doesn't work that way.  In life, when you change rules to try and guarantee your way, it will often backfire.  Just ask Massachusetts AG Coakley.  This was supposed to be a cakewalk for her to the US Senate.  At best, it's even money right now.  There are no major polls, at this point, that show her with a commanding lead. Most show even, and a few show State Senator Brown leading.  I think that the attempts to control who makes the decision have impacted the outcome.  It would impact my response.

With God, it's even more important to note that He does not change His rules.  They're very simply spelled out, and they've been the same for a long, long time.  All humanity is in need of a Savior.  All have sinned, and fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23).  He'll never turn away those that come to Him (John 6:37).  Eternity? It's a gift, granted to us by Him (Romans 6:23) rather than something we earn.

Those rules apply to every last one of us.  They apply when we like the results and when we don't like the results.  You can't change them.  You can choose whether or not to live by them, but you can't choose whether or not they apply.

Thank You, Lord God, that grace is part of Your rule.

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