The cover of Time has “Majority Rules” struck out, as though the current partial shut-down of the federal government is a denial of that basic spirit of democracy, majority rule.


Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post writes,

I’ve already railed against holier-than-thou constitutional conservatives who ignore the Constitution in their obsessive drive to rid the nation of Obamacare. Never mind that the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, signed by President Obama, upheld by the Supreme Court and, by virtue of Obama’s reelection in 2012, the American people. But we are a visual society. Therefore, I tip my hat to Time magazine for this week’s cover, which sums up in one great cover the principle at stake in the health-care fight, the government shutdown and the looming debt-ceiling showdown.

Majority rule is the underpinning of our democracy. That so-called constitutional conservatives are hellbent on undermining that principle makes them actually more dangerous than the man they irrationally and erroneously believe is “not following the Constitution.”

The flaw in this argument is it fails to recognize that the Republicans in the House of Representatives—whatever you think of them—constitute a majority of that house of congress. The system is working as it should: with checks and balances.

Churches with congregational polity, such as congregations of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, also work in large part on the “majority rules” principle. New members of my congregation are often astonished to learn that, in many respects, I am not in charge.

Often, I would like to make all the decisions. I think about the church all day, every day. Even when I’m on vacation. I have insight and experience that no one else has.

Nevertheless, the perspective of others—who have different gifts and experiences, and are on the other side of the pulpit from me—are critical. I can be wrong—enormously, catastrophically wrong. And even when I’m right, it might make no sense to the people.

So the pastor must be patient. He must teach and persuade, and also listen. If the people are not convinced (and I’m of course not talking about doctrine here, but matters of church planning and direction), then that means I haven’t done my job. The worst thing that can come out of a church meeting is a tie vote or a close vote.

Which is what I wish I could say to the President, and members of Congress. The people are not convinced by your arguments. You haven’t done your jobs. You need to keep persuading, until we can come to something approaching consensus. Stop the games, stop the lying, and stop trying to force something on the country by a narrow majority. Use rational arguments. Listen to those who disagree. Work out a compromise.

51% is a terrible way to run a church – and a country.