Power Versus Empowerment

On the ballot this election season are two different visions for America: government power vs. empowerment of people. The choice is ultimately between politicians who seek to confiscate and redistribute wealth (creating a perpetual underclass that’s dependent on government) on the one hand, or those who empower the individual, on the other hand, enabling us each to work towards our God-given destiny.

Jesus wants us to help the poor and the underclass. Nothing helps them more than to help them become empowered themselves, living out their gifts and talents. In His classic parable of the talents, Jesus commends those who work hard and smart with the talents He has entrusted to them, and He condemns the one who buried His talent in the ground. We should seek to help others to fulfill their calling. “A hand out” may be necessary in emergency situations, but “a hand up” is much better in the long run.

This power versus empowerment dichotomy can be seen in tax cuts. Tax cuts put money back in your pocket, instead of that of the government bureaucrat. Tax cuts empower we the people. But the political elitist class loses power through tax cuts. So they oppose them—even though liberal icon JFK, a proponent of tax cuts, said in reference to them that a rising tide lifts all boats.

A conservative believes that you are best qualified to take care of yourself and your family. A liberal believes that the government is best qualified to take care of you and your family. That’s the difference, plain and simple.

Dr. Ben Carson is a renowned neurosurgeon and currently serves as the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Department for President Trump.

He and his brother grew up in grinding poverty, in a housing development in Detroit with their single-parent mom.

But to help them break free from a life of dependence upon government, their mother insisted that each of them read a book a week in order to expand their lives (to empower them). She even forced them to write book reports on each of them for her perusal. Dr. Carson realized later she probably was not even literate enough to read those book reports, but they still produced them. Both brothers became well-educated and made something of their lives, because of her faith in the Lord and in them and by becoming well read.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our schools were shut down. Some have reopened. But in Los Angeles, the teachers’ union made a series of demands if the schools were to be reopened. Included in their mandates was that there be a moratorium on building new charter schools. Nothing like trying to squash your competitors.

Generally children thrive in alternative forms of schooling, such as private schools, charter schools, and home schools.

Parents in poor neighborhoods especially want to have school choice because it can empower their children to make something of their lives. But the teachers’ union sought to protect the power of its own members—rather than empower children and families.

College would seem to be a great place to become empowered—to learn things with which to make something of one’s life. But much of college education today is just politically correct indoctrination.

Victor Davis Hanson writes (7/23/20): “1960s student radicals graduated without much debt and for all their hipness could enter a booming economy with marketable skills. Today’s angry graduates owe a collective $1.6 trillion in student loan debt—much of it borrowed for mediocre, therapeutic, and politicized training that does not impress employers….In other words, today’s radical is far more desperate and angry that his college gambit never paid off.”

Those who become reliant on permanent government handouts ultimately develop a sense of entitlement—as if this money is owed them. How much better to train, to teach, to educate, to inspire, to motivate, than it is to keep people in perpetual reliance on the government, in exchange for their votes.

Steve Moore, the FreedomWorks economist, who worked for the Reagan administration and who has advised President Trump’s campaign, recorded a recent PragerU video (10/7/20). He points out: “Red state America is prospering. Blue state America is in meltdown. So where do you want to live?” For the most part, Red state America is engaged in trying to empower its citizens. The leaders in Blue state America are trying to cling to power—even using it to shut down churches and schools in the name of fighting the pandemic.

Here’s the kicker. While many on the left essentially want a perpetual underclass as their power base, everyone will one day die and give an account to our Maker as to what we did with our lives.

In Election 2020, there is a hidden issue on the ballot. That issue is which vision we choose to pursue: power for power’s sake or empowering as many citizens as want to be empowered for a better future.

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