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Religion, Politics & Presidential Election-2012

by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff

The lower self does not want anyone

to receive anything from any body else,

and if it is aware of someone receiving a special boon,

it seeks to destroy it. -Rumi

* *


As the title indicates, this piece is about religion, politics and the upcoming Presidential Election- 2012. Historically, in America there is a separation of ‘church and state;’ which means that generally religion/spirituality is kept out of elections and governing. In Europe, where most settlers originated, the power of the Church (Catholic, Protestant) often influenced people’s lives through different Monarchs. According to most settlers, this was believed to be a negative, often deadly influence (The Inquisition) and therefore wanted this power negated in the New World.

In this article, we will be discussing: the effect of ‘lower self’ politics; the influence of the religion of capitalism upon the current election; how money generally runs the political process; morality and politics; and how fear & reward is used in election campaigns.

Lower Self Politics

In November, we in America will be electing our President who will serve for the next 4 years. At this point in the race, it looks like Willard Mitt Romney (Republican) will challenge Barak Obama (Democrat) the incumbent.

Presently, we are in the middle of political advertisements, campaign financing events, positioning by different candidates and their supporters by attacking their opponent’s accomplishment record. Most of these attacks are aimed at an opponent’s alleged failures or past alignment with controversial issues (abortion, gay rights). It is dirty (lower self) politics and this is the way it has been for many years, now. Often election advertisements point out the opponent’s failure or alleged misrepresentation in their advertisements. Often, in a not very sophisticated way, these advertisements challenge their opponent’s credibility and offer their view of opponent’s mistruths.

Mr. Romney is being attacked for his record as a business man in helping to create jobs and past Governor of the State of Massachusetts; Mr. Romney is a multi-millionaire, and people who lost their jobs by Romney decisions are being displayed by the Obama side. Playing on people’s fear they are urging not to vote for Romney and that he is misrepresenting his record on this issue. Similarly, the Romney people point out President Obama’s failure to turn the economy and National debt around. Playing again to voter’s fear and lower needs.

Religion of Capitalism

Today, politics in America is mostly about money; with its religion of capitalism. Here in the land of the free; first and foremost money rules and social agendas mostly take a second place. One way to define religion is as a set of beliefs based upon a Higher Principle or Deity. In the case of capitalism, there is an entire belief system fostering that continual economic growth is a very good thing and this growth is measured by how much money is available (Gross National Product).

Also, for decades now the mantra of Corporate America has been: how much money can we make and this is the way success is measured. It really doesn’t matter, as much, if a product over years will make people sick, pollutes the environment, or steals resources from a foreign country. The bottom line, is how much money is coming in, this is the criteria for success or failure. In part, that is why we are struggling with issues like global warming, obesity and America’s dependence upon pharmaceuticals for health.

Fortunately, this singular focus on profits is beginning to change and now some Corporations are looking at their part in being a good neighbor as well.

If you ask most Americans they will say, the most important challenge for the next President is our Economy and making more jobs available. Yes, people need to eat and having a job to make money is very important; however, along with this there is rarely any discussion about the quality of people’s lives, and how to make better people that will help solve our present societal problems.

In Washington DC, there is a tremendous Lobby system where paid Lobbyists from various interest groups and big business influence politicians to make decisions on their behalf. Recently, on a News report it was pointed out that the 3 largest contributors to political campaigns for re-election were the Financial Industry, the Oil Industry and the Health Industry. This report went on further to say: no wonder that many recent political decisions have been slanted in favor of these large interests.

For many years, it has been suggested to do away with the Lobby System; as it mostly represents those with money and the ability to organize; often, this system does not adequately represent those people who are unable to organize, and average citizens with less financial resources.

Money to Fund Election Campaigns

To run a political campaign for election, it takes money to get your views out there so people will know who you are and vote for you; only those candidates who can purchase advertisements and organize a strong political base with money backing get elected. The 2 major political Parties (Republicans, Democrats) have national campaign directors and many volunteers to push their candidate forward; these Parties have tremendous financial resources through targeted supporters.

Because ordinary citizens and groups of people with a special interest donate money to elect their representative; usually, as a result, this representative has a whole host of people to whom they owe political favors. This is the exchange mentally operating- if I do something for you, I expect you to do something for me. Political donations are usually repaid by favoritism of some sort. Generally people do not donate money to a political campaign, unless they like a candidate who will vote on issues as the donator of funds desire.

Many times, the outcome of this favoritism is a (monetary) reward of some sort; like voting on key issues in a certain way. Or a position of power (political appointment) that eventually leads to more personal wealth.

Also, you cannot really get elected in America unless you are wealthy or have a power base that has money to fund your election campaign. The cost of advertisements and getting your platform (what you believe on key issues) out there for people to understand; is very expensive.

Again, it has been suggested, that candidates for different positions all be given, with out cost, free air time (TV, Radio) to run their campaign. This would do away with the need to raise election funds, and make the election race a little fairer. Possibly, some people without access to large amounts of money might even try to run for different positions.

Morality Issues

Because many election campaigns use the tactic of trying to discredit a potential candidate by pointing out past failure: a moral scandal or misstep is a good way to do this. In the past, a candidate’s sexual indiscretions (having a mistress), misuse of political campaign money, behavior as a young man (bullying school mates), corporate manager (loss of local jobs), or past record as an elected official have appeared in the media.

It seems that media managers are acutely aware of our excitement need and often play to our lower nature when reporting political NEWS. They assume everyone love’s a juicy scandal and are quick to run a story like this. Also, most media managers are often key, important members of a specific political party and as such are expected to help their candidate by reporting positively and negatively against their opponent.

Most often, election campaigns are slanted by reports of an opponent’s short comings and do not accentuate a plan to correct a troublesome situation (resurrecting the economy, reduce our growing national debt, creating a balanced health care system); because these are complex issues, often it is much easier from a political point of view to talk about a candidate’s failure as opposed to offering a real solution.

Also, it seems it is standard practice for many seeking office to make promises about key issues they know they cannot keep. Or change their mind about an issue, simply to gain votes. While this sounds very cynical, in part, it helps explain the inability of many candidates to keep their election promises.

Fear & Reward

Many times, in an election campaign, voters will be subject to a manipulation. Candidates and their supporters (Catholic Church) will use our biologic hard wiring against us in order to get our vote. Additionally, their use of our fear response creates an illusion they are the best candidate. Their manipulation runs something like this: look we have a potentially good thing going here (solution of problems, success, and heaven); and if you want to join in with us, then you are required to follow what we say to do. If you don’t want any rewards- don’t join in, but you are doomed to either failure, a very hard time, or you may even ‘piss God off’ becoming someone with a very painful future in the hereafter.

In America, we live in a capitalistic society and most people grow-up believing: I want to get a piece of the action (money) - so I’ll follow along with the rules; it’s the same with religions and family structures. What’s put out there- here are the rules and expectations- accept them or reject them; that is up to you, but if you reject them it’s a hard way to go without our support.

In the upcoming Presidential Election, recently the Catholic Church has raised the key personal freedom issues of abortion (through the new health care bill the Church will be required to pay for abortions for those who are covered by health insurance and work in Church sponsored settings) and gay marriage (which they are against); asking Catholics to take a stand, with their personal decisions about whom they elect- echoing throughout eternity. They have created a short video entitled- Test of Fire: Election 2012. To view this video go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=D9vQt6IXXaM&hd.

Throughout this video, which is very well done, there is the ever present threat of Hell Fire for those who do not vote their conscience. Clearly, personal conscience being defined- as what the Catholic Church advocates. Whatever your personal view on these key issues, when viewing this video, it is important to keep in mind- the fear & reward manipulation. Otherwise you may be swayed, by the fear of spending eternity in Hell.

Also, look for this manipulation in other election pieces, so you won’t be motivated by the fear and reward carrot.


While much of this article focuses on what is wrong or what this writer finds troubling in American politics, and its effect upon the upcoming Presidential Election; it is important to point out that generally things do not get fixed until they are badly broken. That’s human nature.

Also to think that things are any better in a different country is to be a little naïve. Wherever this is political power and money, this power structure will pull towards it those people who operate best on this level. Unless forced to change, in order to keep their thing going, they will always act in their own best interest; often leaving behind the most vulnerable of their citizens.

Remember- to make a better world, we have to make better people, one person at a time; and in order to do this, elected officials have to think of others as often as they think of themselves. And to think of others as one self, we must be honest with one self and others, traveling a path to spiritual/higher development.

Remember- it is only spiritual/higher development that allows the traveler to conquer the effects of our lower self. And if we see an injustice, we must speak out and take action to help correct it.

* *

Transcending the Pull

In this world, because of the demands of the physical body,

many travelers loose sight of the soul's long journey back to God/Source.

Yet if a traveler is somehow able to transcend this pull,

they can reach higher than the angels. –SB


Check-out my two new books: Sufism for Western Seekers: Path of the Spiritual Traveler in Everyday Life and The Ferryman’s Dream . Both books are available through Amazon.com or local bookstore.


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