Is Barack Obama’s “Post-Partisan” Language Biblical?

John C. Rankin

(April 30, 2010)

At the deepest roots of healthy politics, and in addressing President Obama as a professing Christian, a question comes to mind:

  • Is there a biblical and constitutional basis for Mr. Obama’s use of “post-partisan” language?

Such a term is interpretively important for the President. By definition, the post-partisan follows after the partisan. But how does Mr. Obama use the term? There are three possibilities.

First, the post-partisan can mean a simple appeal to move past petty or dishonest partisan agendas.

  • But, does this not also abort honest partisan debate?

Second, the post-partisan can mean that partisan debate is over because everyone agrees, and thus, there is no further need for it.

  • But, the only possibility here is the full arrival of the kingdom of God, and thus, could not such a claim open the door to messianic notions?

And third, the post-partisan can mean partisan debate is over because those in political authority say so and insist upon it.

  • But, is this not the opposite of checks and balances in representative government?

In prior contrast is the proactive and pre-partisan six pillars of honest politics, as rooted in biblical ethics:

  1. The power to give affirms that the unalienable rights of life, liberty and a free market economy are given by the Creator to all people equally, and leaders in human government should serve such a gift.
  1. The power to live in the light means leaders in human government at every level should be as fully transparent as possible.
  1. The power of informed choice is rooted in an honest definition of terms in political debate, providing a level playing field for all ideas to be heard equally, apart from which political freedom is not possible.
  1. The power to love hard questions is in place when political leaders honor and answer those who pose them the toughest questions.
  1. The power to love enemies recognizes that even the harshest of political opponents share a common humanity and are to be treated with respect.
  1. The power to forgive recognizes the need to address our individual and societal transgressions against one another, and to work toward justice and reconciliation.

These six pillars are by definition pre-partisan. In other words, they set the foundation for healthy partisan debates over public policy, in service to the consent of the governed.

So, a simple question in sum:

  • Is it the pre-partisan or the post-partisan that is biblical and serves constitutional law?