The Illusion of 'Pedestal People'
May 1, 2017 | View PDF
The title of a recent Christian podcast that I follow intrigued me with the title “Pedestal People,” and while neither participant in the discussion lives anywhere close to our beautiful state, I had to wonder if perhaps they had been peeking into the political intrigue of the last few years.
I imagine that the overwhelming majority of Alabamians join me in being vastly disappointed or even disgusted by the current politics of our state. Granted, there are always those who will delight in the demise of those on the opposite side of the political aisle, and I confess that I’ve shared those same sentiments in the past. I’ve celebrated candidate victories and relished in the defeat of the opposition party, but in watching what has happened in Alabama politics since the campaign cycle of 2010, all I really feel right now is sadness for our state.
I suppose it’s our human nature that has a need to place people on pedestals. We certainly do it routinely with our athletes and our entertainment icons, so it’s not a surprise that we also elevate those for whom we vote to the same stature. As questioned in the referenced podcast regarding our rush to put people on those pedestals, are we really that desperate for a hero?
While I still believe there are many who have a genuine desire for public service, and what has transpired of late isn’t a blanket indictment of all who currently serve, I’m afraid that our political system as we now know it holds an intoxicating draw for more a few who are more than willing to climb up on that pedestal as a means of feeding their ego as well as attaining great influence, as that influence so easily and often reaps financial benefit.
But we know what tends to follow that hero worship – an inevitable “fall from grace” – and then for some reason we’re shocked that the illusion of our latest hero is shattered.
Seeking public office isn’t the problem; it’s the seeking of power and influence once that office is attained that is increasingly destructive to that individual and the heart and soul of our political process. Most of the influence consists of power behind the scenes, far from the public eye, and the accompanying corruption continues regardless of political party or individual. It’s one of the reasons it seems to only be a matter of time before whomever we elect gets caught up in their own hero mentality and starts forgetting that the office they hold doesn’t belong to them or the power brokers, but to those they represent. The effects of the pedestal are addicting, and the hosts of the podcast referred to the lust of influence being similar to a drug, even labeling it as “trafficking in influence.”
Whether or not we want to acknowledge it, our political problems and every other issue of conflict in our world originates from our pride. Those we elect are too often quite proud of the influence they’ve accumulated, while their electorate supporters gloat over the political victory. But I’m afraid that our pride in winning creates an even bigger problem as it often discourages us from following up with the accountability that is crucial for good government. Regardless of the political party, we’re too willing to make excuses for corruption if our “side” won and calling it out is too many times condemned as a sign of betrayal to the brand.
I had hoped that the public corruption trial and conviction of our former Speaker of the House would have served as a wake-up call for those in public office, but I’m not sure that the message was loud enough. For the rest of us, maybe we’ll begin to think twice about our role in enabling those political pedestals and our own hero worship.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
1 Jacobsen, Wayne; Cummings, Brad. “Pedestal People.” The God Journey, episode #578, April 14, 2017. http://thegodjourney.com/2017/04/14/pedestal-people-578/
Marcia Chambliss serves on the leadership team of Smart Girl Politics, http://www.smartgirlpolitics.com, an online community for conservative women. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Her views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart Girl Politics.