Should Joe Biden leave the presidential race?

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Should Joe Biden leave the presidential race?

Why I’m grateful for the turmoil of our politics

July 1, 2024 -

President Joe Biden speaks at the grand opening ceremony for the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, Friday, June 28, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden speaks at the grand opening ceremony for the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, Friday, June 28, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden speaks at the grand opening ceremony for the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, Friday, June 28, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As the United States celebrates our independence this week and we watch the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, I would like to focus on some paradoxical reasons I am grateful to be an American.

Let’s begin with the chaos of our governance.

At least we’re not Iran

A poll released yesterday indicated that 72 percent of registered voters do not believe Joe Biden has the mental and cognitive health to serve as president; 49 percent said the same of Donald Trump. After Thursday night’s presidential debate, which viewers thought Mr. Trump won decisively, the New York Times editorial board called on Mr. Biden to leave the race, as did their noted columnist Thomas Friedman. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial board made the same plea, as did the Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal.

However, Mr. Biden’s family used a gathering yesterday to urge him to stay in the race, some criticizing how his staff prepared him for the debate. And the Philadelphia Inquirer called on Mr. Trump to withdraw, describing him as “a danger to democracy and unfit for office.”

Whatever your thoughts on the debate and its consequences for our nation, take heart: at least we’re not Iran.

Their presidential election, which will now move to a runoff, was extended by two hours due to low voter turnout because Iranians know the results don’t matter. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei runs the country; he can embroil his nation in an escalating war with Israel and cripple the economy and there’s nothing the people can do to stop him.

Nor are we China, which recently threatened the death penalty for anyone in the country who supports Taiwan’s democracy. Or Russia, whose president launched an invasion of Ukraine that has now killed more than 469,000 Russian troops. Or North Korea, whose dictator has threatened a nuclear launch despite reprisals that would devastate his nation.

In each case, these leaders are not only unaccountable to their people—they are immune personally from the consequences of their tragic decisions.

“The law ought to be king”

By contrast, colonial writer Thomas Paine explained the genius of the American system: “As in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king.” No matter how frustrated many are with our presidential candidates, for example, no one is threatening a military coup or street riots to overthrow our government.

Voters whose candidate loses in November can take heart that the winner is head of just one of three branches of our government, constrained by the laws Congress makes and the interpretation of those laws by our courts. Our Founders would have agreed with C. S. Lewis, who believed in democracy not because people are worthy of governing themselves but because no one is worthy of unaccountable power over others.

However, Lewis’s observation also highlights the inherent flaw in our system: as a car is intended for those with the maturity and requisite motor skills necessary to drive it effectively, so our system of self-government is intended for those who can govern themselves. But we cannot govern ourselves without the help of the One who governs the universe. No laws or leaders can make us the people we need to be if our democratic republic is to flourish.

Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, remarked:

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure . . . are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of a free government.

“The change which I most need”

The solution is to make Christ not our president but our personal king.

Americans can vote their president out of office or move to another country. Presidents can die in office or even be assassinated. And they have little power to enforce their decisions apart from Congress and the courts.

But Christ our king is subject to none of these limitations.

The only constraint he faces is the free will he has given us. He chooses to knock at the door of our hearts—if we open to him, his presence will transform us (Revelation 3:20) into our best selves (Romans 8:28–29) and lead us into our most abundant lives (John 10:10).

Apart from this transforming power, we are powerless to make ourselves into the people we long to become. To quote C. S. Lewis again: “The change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about. . . . I cannot, by direct moral effort, give myself new motives.”

Nor can I. Nor can you.

But if we ask Jesus to help us trust Jesus, he will answer our prayer (Mark 9:24). If we ask his Holy Spirit to make us holy, he will do so (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Our part is to believe that he is “able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). And then to study his word, pray, worship, and otherwise practice his presence so as to position ourselves to be transformed by his grace.

“Don’t change the Bible to fit the culture”

I saw a church sign recently that captured my theme today:

“Don’t change the Bible to fit the culture. Change the culture to fit the Bible.”

Let it begin with me.

And with you.

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*Denison Forum does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in these stories.

Quote for the day:

“Sanctification is not a work of nature, but a work of grace. It is a transformation of character effected not by moral influences, but supernaturally by the Holy Spirit.” —Charles Hodge

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