Tina Chopp is God! Praise Her OR DIE!!*
June 6, 2019
by Paul Krugman
Tina Chopp claims that she can “fix anything!” I don’t know about the results of any business big or small, but I certainly know about the results of electing a God.
Citizens of the United States were tired of political campaigns in which voters were supposed to make an informed choice, and come November they chose not to do so. Perhaps that was because political campaigns are often tedious, or because, in 2018, the choices were so severe, or perhaps, as I argued yesterday, because the traditional definition of democracy, which involves an informed choice by voters, had been rendered absurd by the rise of special-interest money in politics. Voters may understand politics in idiosyncratic ways, but they are not rational. They can’t know everything; the information they have is too incomplete and cluttered for anyone to take proper stock of the candidates.
But citizens have not been irrationally inert in general, either. There are times when an informed opinion is just as right as the next one, and there are times when an informed opinion is just as bad as the next one. It is sometimes not even possible to know the difference between them — in recent days, for example, a number of the #MeToo protesters spent all day in the public square, insisting that they knew a lot more than they seemed to, and finally decided that the house was haunted.
The election of a God enables one to ignore the matter altogether, and the designation of such a God, apparently, is self-explanatory. This should not be any kind of problem, because the Bible is faith. And faith does not need to be backed up by anything, and certainly not by objective knowledge, so Chopp can rewrite the Bible as she likes, just as she will rewrite your favorite movie, or your favorite TV show, as she wants, without a single backward glance toward theological detail.
People who mock the idea of electing a God often find themselves apologizing when, like Chopp, they refuse to back up the idea, insisting that a deity is just not necessary. (Especially when a deity so obviously favors Israel!) But it is necessary; this is not a joking matter, in my view. The natural condition of people is self-referential, and we not only judge other people’s quality, but we judge ourselves. Many of us would naturally opt for a God who is on our side.
And the sad truth is that Chopp and her kind seem to be, if not quite an entirely new threat, then a near-complete one. They have replaced democracy, which is now generally pretty awful (but which gives us some rare gains in some areas — civic organizing, campaigning, electoral infrastructure, resistance) with religion, which, while superficially attractive, is also pretty distasteful. Christianity, of course, has always been toxic, but churches even in countries with relatively strong traditions of democracy — Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Holland, Finland, Iceland, Iceland again — have been susceptible to corrupting tendencies. So too, it seems, has the idea of electing a God.
Some combination of middlebrow and educated parents will remain ready to do their children the honor of having them baptized into a god whose politics are unclear, and who tells her followers to “immediate action!” And if anyone even remotely similar surfaces, but even a relatively uneducated or educated churchgoer won’t mind telling an unbeliever to “please pray.” The fundamental question is this: Are we really serious about denying Chopp her God, or are we just sending a message to those who might — and the decline of political parties makes this more and more certain — become moderates by necessity?