As the presidential election rolls on, there isn't much guidance to glean from the prospects we have. The two front leaders are a reality TV real estate mogul who once rasselled Vince McMahon (and shaved his head). The other is someone with an ongoing FBI criminal investigation and a potential indictment, not to mention scores of scandals, less than stellar track record and a really parochial, unsympathetic and condescending personality weighing her down. Neither are guided by anything close to what would be considered Christian values. And those who have withdrawn that were considered more meat and potatoes candidates tried to make up in being on the right side of issues to compensate for a lack in maturity and personality. The fact the choices for leadership are so depressing isn't the result of a conspiratorial power treating us to democracy theater while securing power, even though that may be a part of the soup. The reason the choices are bad is because of us. They reflect us. There has been a deterioration of moral knowledge and an unsustainable foundation of our liberal society based on nothing more than principles the same society has already proven to be either illusory or obsolete.
So, we can't find anyone good to be our leader because we no longer know what is good for our nation, let alone what's good for ourselves. That may be met with derision. But, on closer analysis, we aren't really able to explain why we consider our positions good, other than either the other options don't work or prescriptive responses (our position is good...because our position is the good one to have). THere's also the useful bullying explanation (if you don't believe like me, you should be ashamed of yourself for being so horrible a person). Hopefully, it's obvious that none of those are explanations. We don't know why our position is the best, other than it's ours. It's a chaotic society that is quickly delving into oblivion based on its own chosen trajectory. That's not because of Christianity. In fact, the basis of our current liberal society, from its founding, has made the church incidental and belief in God a private matter, in attempts to control it and avoid it competing with the State in daily life. Those are Enlightenment principles, rather than biblical ones. In Scripture, the church is the sole source of salvation for the world and its only hope. There is no greater contrast between scripture and contemporary society than the purpose and practice of the church.
America is a product of modernism, rather than Judeo-Christian first principles. America's Rock isn't Jesus, but Locke. The Judeo-Christian principles involved were incidental, rather than primary in this nation's founding. It was/is an experiment in political liberalism with the emancipation of the individual as the chief and supreme ethic. The ethic, as well as the means to achieve it were credited as a project of autonomous reason. It's chief founder, John Locke, believed religion in general, and God in particular, cannot be known through reason, even if accepted passionately. This, of course, required any modern liberal political society to subordinate faith to reason (assuming they are incompatible) and religion to law. Belief in God has become a private matter that has little or no bearing on public life. The church itself becomes incidental, sort of like the Rotary Club.
Compare the church in America to how Scripture describes the church. Scripture describes salvation for the world coming only from the church. It is the 'called out ones' that have the keys to the Kingdom, the knowledge of God, the message of salvation and the life that redeems people, communities and nations. The church is the Body of Christ...literally His hands and feet in the world surrounding her. In fact, not only Scripture but even church fathers such as Augustine would go so far to suggest that any nation-state or society that rejects Christ cannot accomplish its goals. Secular nations operate primarily through coercion and force/violence. What the Enlightenment failed to understand is that worship is a necessary part of human life. You don't eradicate it. You just replace the object of worship. If you think violence in the name of religion can be eliminated by relegating religion to the parking lot, you do not end violence. What you get (and what we have) is violence done in the name of the nation-state. Even when it was violence done in the name of God, it's motivation was an exploitation of God, rather than His representation. The Enlightenment gives us a new god and a new form of worship. The new god is the nation-state. The new form of worship is rigorous privatization of all religious belief. As a result, it's capacity is limited. It ends up being reduced to individual beliefs and a self-help resource, among so many others. The church becomes a voting block rather than the source of salvation.
Having experienced this deterioration, even the concept of truth and knowledge has shifted to a great extent. With so much emphasis made on empirical knowledge and scientific inquiry, there has been a loss of moral knowledge, as a result. Moral knowledge, as well as other types of knowledge that are incapable of being analyzed quantitatively, have no place and are privatized and relativized. Because the modern project of decoupling morals and values from religion had a very short half life, the results are a disorganized society driven by emotion and desire as its pathos and ethos. What we want is the good. Anything that gets in the way of what we want is bad. There is no comprehensible understanding of why we consider something good or bad other than we just want it. That's the extent of moral values in post-modern liberal democracies. In universities, knowledge is now considered to be associated with the hard sciences while all other realms of education are either reduced to language games or cultural curiosities. The post-modern response to modernism is that knowledge is unattainable, unless it is dealing only with chemistry or physics. This fragmentation relegates the essential aspects of life, knowledge related to God, values, even politics, to agenda-driven initiatives founded on identity politics. Politics, itself, has become nothing but an expression of power: taking power away from others or keeping others from taking it from us.
With the supreme ethic of emancipation of the individual, it necessarily comes at odds with essential social institutions such as family and marriage. It has to. And with the deterioration of these institutions, the emancipated individual becomes alienated, lonely, without something to live for bigger than the self. Life becomes vapid. Without anything worth dying for, such a society hides this emptiness behind endless wars, state-sanctioned progressivism, coupled with entertainment, medication, technology and sex as the chief diversions. In short, liberal societies, including America, will not survive in the long run because the foundation is based on principles that are insufficient and even incomprehensible. This is not a failure of Judeo-Christian philosophy, but of modernism and the Enlightenment. And the post-modern response is one of non-answers that ends up fueling the modernist chief end of individual emancipation but in more innovative ways, including even emancipation from narratives and the author/artist perspectives, among other things. There is essentially little difference here between conservatives and liberals. Both are interested in the absolute freedom of individual will, whether it is to be wealthy or to express their sexuality. And, sadly, that's the deepest motivations we can find in both camps.
If salvation comes only from the church, then the church is the world's only hope. Contrary to secular thought. If this world is so empty and lost in its attempts to find non-theistic alternatives that end up with such horrible unintended results as we are witnessing, how great a salvation can the church be to the world, particularly in liberal societies. But, rather, we are not. We have obeyed the State and any redemption we can offer is kept neatly within the limitations placed on it by liberal society. One may point to violence and abuses the church can be blamed for throughout history. Yet, not many actually know or understand that same history enough to realize what they are talking about. Also, much of the abuses the church engaged in were ultimately related to having been given secular power by Rome long ago. The church considered political power as something that could be used to further the Kingdom. Yet, it came with dire consequences. Lastly, by assuming the place of the secular state, the church has been far out of place in wielding the weapons of the state, particularly coercion and force. Contrast this with the life of the church demonstrated supremely with Christ Himself. Life for the church is one of dying, giving, serving. There is a natural tension in Kingdom life as described from secular life. That's not because the church is incapable of leading nations, but because the world is diametrically at odds with the Gospel itself and the Kingdom principles of living. Control, manipulation, greed and violence have no place in the Kingdom yet are essential and necessary tools for the nation-state. There will always be that tension so long as any part of the world is untouched by and unredeemed by the Kingdom, extended by its own people. But, we are not promised a pathway to power in the affairs of the nation-state. We are only given a different kind of life and where that leads, particularly in terms of politics, is determined only by the God we serve.