Carly Fiorina isn’t trying to get my vote. I know it, and she knows it. So is it surprising that she would alienate voters like me entirely? No. Is it a good idea? Much like the sincerity of her faith, that may be irrelevant. But I’d still like to talk about her bullshit views on how faith in god makes someone a better leader. She has brought this up several times, but let’s focus on her most recent comments Friday night at “The Presidential Family Forum” in Iowa.
First of all, the “Presidential Family Forum” itself is nauseating. It is hosted by The Family Leader, a religious-right group dedicated to keeping god in politics. For those of you not familiar with them, their website makes their agenda clear:
Mission: Strengthen families, by inspiring Christ-like leadership in the home, the church, and the government.
Vision: The Family Leader wants to see a revived America that honors God and blesses people.
Goals: Transform the culture, impact elections, influence policy, become a model organization other states can follow.
Needless to say, this is not an organization I support. But it does seem like an ideal platform for Carly Fiorina to give her “I can pretend I am a devout Christian, too” speech. You know, in case it wasn’t obvious.
“I do think it’s worth saying that people of faith make better leaders because faith gives us humility; faith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us, that each of us are gifted by God. Faith gives us empathy; we know that all of us can fall and every one of us can be redeemed. And faith gives us optimism, it gives us the belief that there is something better, that there is someone bigger than all of us. And so I think it’s important that we elect a leader of faith and that we elect a leader, as well, who knows that more prayer, not less, is necessary in public life and in all our lives.”
Let’s start with humility. Because if there is one thing I do not see when I look at most of the Republican candidates, it’s humility. The thing about faith is that yes, you are forced to feel humility in the presence of your god. But, you also run the risk of becoming incredibly arrogant in your belief that “the one and only powerful god” has chosen you for a specific path. When you believe that god is in control of your life, you tend to mistake people disagreeing with you to be the equivalent of them disagreeing with god. Does it come across as humility? No.
It’s a whole lot easier to be humble when you aren’t convinced you are chosen by god.
So what about empathy? Carly says that people of faith have more empathy because “we know that all of us can fall and every one of us can be redeemed.” We must be one or the other, right? The fallen and the redeemed. I’m pretty sure Carly would place me in the “fallen” category. I find that a “redeemed” person’s condescending sadness for me doesn’t feel exactly like empathy. In fact, I don’t believe they have the capacity to understand me at all. Which is ironic, because as a former believer I have plenty of genuine empathy for Christians. Is it possible that empathy is simply a human trait that we all can possess? And that maybe, just maybe….seeing the world as a group of people divided between “fallen” and “redeemed” is actually a stumbling block to empathy?
And then there is religious optimism; the idea that there is something bigger and better than us that we can pray to. This is why Carly believes it is so important to elect leaders who pray, but Christians never think this idea through. What would happen if the President didn’t pray? Would god change his plan for America? Maybe we should also start offering sacrifices to please god so he will favor us at war.
Christians know god doesn’t work this way. He doesn’t answer prayer based on what we’ve done for him. Prayer is something Christians use to feel connected to god. They believe that if they trust god and keep that connection, he will comfort them and lead their path. The trouble is, they must keep reminding themselves that god’s path is not always the same path they would choose for themselves. Sometimes god wants them to suffer. Sometimes god’s plan is that the faithful still lose. But, as I have said before: if something bad is going to happen, it is better that it happens under god’s watch rather than our own.
I actually used to think that way.
Is it optimism? It sounds more like insanity to me. Or, at the very least it sounds meaningless. I am guessing what Carly really means to say is that the best leader for her is someone who thinks just the way she thinks. Fair enough. But what about the rest of us? Do we really want someone in office who sees themselves as a spokesperson for an all-mighty god? Or who sees a large percentage of our country as “fallen” people who need redemption? Do we want a President whose number one strategy for everything is to spend more time talking to themselves?
I think a leader is someone who has all of our interests in mind. Someone who doesn’t think I am less important because I probably won’t vote for them. How can Carly lead me? Believing that people of faith make better leaders tells me that she does not know how to see beyond her faith. And since that’s where many of us exist, we are clearly invisible to her. That definitely doesn’t feel like humility, empathy, or optimism to me. If you want to be a religious leader, start a church. If you want to lead America, you had better start caring more about all the people who live here.