Biden Made a Bad Call, But That’s Not the Issue

I don’t support President Biden’s decision to open federal land in Alaska to drilling. All of our energy needs can be met via renewables (+ innovative energy storage); drilling more only further complicates the mammoth and expensive problem of climate change my generation is laying at the feet of our children. 

I see why he’s doing it. As tensions rise and war seems less and less far fetched, we want energy independence. Biden is (likely) running for president again, and a move such as this appeals to moderates. And, he probably knows that liberals like me will stick with him through a decision like this, and he’s right; I continue to support Biden because he is way, way better than the alternative, and he has done much to counter climate change in other policies. 

I think the odd thing that I wanted to point out is the absence of dissent such as this on the other side. When Trump was president I saw so very little condemnation of his worser decisions from republicans. 

Yes, I know conservatives who didn’t vote for him due to his obvious incompetence, corruption, and myriad of other faults. But they remained curiously quiet about openly criticizing him. 

I find it so interesting the dichotomy, where among democrats we commonly excoriate our leaders for mistakes or capitulation to big business; but regular Republicans continue to accept Trump begrudgingly and without the criticism and dissent he deserves. 

Case in point, Liz Cheney being the most vocal critic of Trump, a Representative of Wyoming even more conservative than Trump himself, and coming from a rather famous conservative pedigree, loses her seat in a primary landslide to a political nobody. 

Just like political leaders get marginalized and punished for dissent against Trump, I imagine it is the same among the common voter. 

I have to speculate how much the church plays into this dynamic. The ranks of the deeply conservative being nearly all Christian, it’s obvious that the church’s appraoch to leadership translates to Republicans. 

When I was in the Evangelical Church, of course, we were taught that Jesus is the flawless leader: He is close, active, all powerful, and most importantly, when he fails to deliver, that he has some mysterious plan in how he will answer prayers later (or perhaps he is blessing you by not answering your prayer). 

In other words, my years in the church conditioned me for disappointment in leadership. To simultaneously hide your disappointment, and praise Jesus unconditionally. 

Those same dynamics are mirrored in the Trump cult: Praise him sycophantically for what little good he’s done, and overlook the dramatic damage he’s directly caused. 

Even regarding January 6th (the first time ever the Confederate flag was flown in the US Capitol and the greatest attack on the people’s sovereignty since the Civil War) Republicans and Christians alike remain unforgivably silent. 

Biden is making the wrong decision on drilling, and our children will pay for it. But what’s important is a culture where criticizing leadership is fluent in our civil discourse. What is dangerous is when we refuse to criticize our chosen leadership as a factor of idolatry or fear.

When Jesus constantly disappoints and Christians respond by lavishing him with praise, that’s bad enough. But when humans do the same for a political leader, we elevate an elected official to a king, or worse, a tyrant.

Author: Kaiping Liu

Professional educator, musician, world traveler.

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