Last year, The New York Times Sunday Book Review asked former Secretary of State and (now) Democratic candidate for President, Hillary Clinton:
If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?
Clinton replied: At the risk of appearing predictable, the Bible was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking. I was raised reading it, memorizing passages from it and being guided by it. I still find it a source of wisdom, comfort and encouragement. [Source: nytimes.com, 6-11-14]
Social conservatives will object to, and sneer at, this comment. They will point out that her support of gay marriage and abortion rights are not consistent with the Bible. They’re not wrong.
But what about the themes in the Bible of wider significance? The ethics of self-sacrifice and selflessness, for example? Let’s take a look at Hillary Clinton’s quotes over the years, and identify how consistent her ideas are with the ideas on self-interest associated with the Bible.
For example, Hillary Clinton has said: “We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society.”
Doesn’t the Bible teach that selfless service to others is the base of morality? Isn’t that the basis for both Old Testament morality and the teachings of Jesus Christ? In this respect, socialism and progressivism are consistent with the Bible. They apply to government what the Bible says we all must apply to life.
In Christianity, Jesus is held up as the moral ideal. He died on a cross, not for his own sake, but for the sake of others. That’s the model for all of us to follow, according to the Bible — the ultimate example of self-sacrifice.
Here’s a quote from the Bible, Mark 10:21-22: Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Perhaps when Hillary Clinton says we must “stop thinking of the individual” and start thinking about society, it’s these Biblical themes that have influenced her.
In a similar vein, Clinton has said [to an audience of well-off business people], “Many of you are well enough off that the tax cuts may have helped you. We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”
Also, she has said: “There are rich people everywhere, and yet they don’t contribute to the growth of their countries.”
Now consider this well-known quote from the Bible [Matthew: 19:22-24]: “But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”…”
All types or degrees of “progressivism” or socialism are based on ideas about morality. Those ideas are articulated in these Biblical quotes as well as Hillary Clinton’s statements over the years.
When people fight over politics, they’re really fighting over what they consider the proper definition of morality. Is selfless sacrifice for the sake of the community or collective the central moral purpose of life? Or is each individual’s life an end itself, as the Declaration of Independence implied? Do our lives belong to ourselves — or to God, family, country or some other entity? You can avoid politics, but you cannot avoid ethics. If you decline to hold a conscious or explicit view of ethics, you cannot help but feel one, implicitly and emotionally. We all do.
If conservatives or other opponents of Hillary Clinton wish to defeat her in a meaningful way, they have to challenge the ideas behind her policies. If they really don’t want her policies, they have to explain why her ideas about morality and ethics are wrong. If they dislike Hillary Clinton personally, while applauding her claimed ideals, then they should say so.
Is Hillary Clinton a glaring hypocrite? Of course she is. If she really believes that the individual does not matter, and that only society does, she should be prepared to lead by example and give up all of her wealth, except the bare minimum needed to survive. She never has, and never will. Nor do her supporters seem to think that she should. It’s almost as if she — and other socialist-collectivist leaders like her — are somehow exempt from the moral ideas they seek to impose on everyone else, because the attempt to impose those ideals is (they feel) so “noble” that they deserve the spoils of material happiness for themselves.
It’s entirely and objectively true that by Clinton’s own stated standard of morality, it’s morally wrong to keep most of her private income and wealth to live as she does. That standard of morality is presented throughout the Bible she claims to love as her favorite book, yet she does not embody any of it in practice.
But if we’re to criticize Hillary Clinton for being the obvious hypocrite that she is, where does that leave her ideas? Are we to assume that her idea about the individual being less important than society is the right one, and that her only failure is to follow it consistently?
Why does nobody call her on it? Because to do so would involve bringing one’s own contradictions to the surface.
If the social conservatives seeking to run against Clinton agree with her on the Bible’s ideas, then their only basis for criticizing her is to give up their own material and secular luxuries and comforts. They’re not likely to do this; consequently, they can only be so hard on her for her hypocrisy, lest they risk being accused of the same thing themselves.
Now, is anyone willing to challenge the whole idea of society over individual rights; and selfless service to others rather than personal satisfaction as the only purpose of life? That would be a basis for really challenging not only Clinton, but any of the socialists or semi-socialists who typically run for President.
To fight the expansive government policies of Hillary Clinton (and the many others like her), one has to first identify the ideas about morality upon which these policies are based. We’ve got to start thinking and talking about morality, and start demanding that our elected leaders, who have life-and-death power over our lives, do the same.
And by “morality” I’m not talking about abortion and gay marriage. Enough already about abortion and gay marriage. Those may be worthy topics for debate, but they pale in comparison to the broader themes of individual rights, economic survival and protection from terrorism.
If Hillary Clinton, or any other politician (left or right) lectures us on the importance of society over the individual, and the evil or unimportance of material wealth, then demand that she practice what she preaches before seeking to impose it on the rest of us.
And while we’re at it, let’s question the whole idea that the individual really is secondary to society. Society is nothing more than a group of individuals. If those individuals have few or no rights, then on what basis do we claim that all of society does?
I’d love to hear this question asked of Hillary Clinton — and anyone else running for high office, as well. I’d love to live to see the day where that happens, even once. Something tells me it’s not going to happen this year, but we shall see.
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