The Politics of Pontius Pilate

Pontius PilateThe political climate surrounding the decision to free Christ or succumb to the pressures of the mob seeking his death reached a fevered pitch. Pontius Pilate had to worry about another uprising within the territory he governed, and he also had to figure out a way to satisfy a mob seeking blood at all costs. In order to satisfy the mob, Pilate would knowingly have to condemn an innocent man to death, which would potentially save his political career. But is this moral? Should an innocent man have to die for political expedience and career ambitions? Pilate attempted to maneuver the situation with a bit of pragmatism. First, he offered an exchange, a chance to pardon the convicted murderer Barabbas or the self proclaimed God-Man innocent of any crime. The crowd chose the murderer. The first attempt of pragmatic governing was crafty, but a mob inebriated with madness is not interested in adroit practical compromise, they have demands that must be met. Bloodlust and democracy don’t usually yield positive, rational results. The second attempt at compromise was to chastise, or scourge the captured Christ. Surely the crowd would see a beaten man and have mercy. Instead, they shouted with a fanatical zeal, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Mercy was not to be had on that fateful day. Pilate was now faced, once again, with the task of identifying justice associated with truth, or choosing to condemn a blameless man to save his career. Political pragmatism had completely failed, and to ensure that Pilate knew exactly what was at stake, the beaten and bloodied carpenter from Nazareth reminded the Governor from where his authority truly came, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above…”[1] This proclamation gripped Pilate for only a moment until the Jewish leaders of the mob reminded him of Caesar.

Pilate washed his hands and released Christ to the mob, where Jesus was then crucified like a common criminal. Pilate chose political expediency over truth; he chose to be “neutral,” or he deluded himself into believing he was neutral. Political pragmatism and moral compromise betrayed the truth of justice, falsely deified the state against the God-man Christ, and for all time revealed the true nature of pragmatism in pursuit of “results” as the ultimate form of political and moral cowardice.

Pilate’s weakness is the spirit saturating the soul of the Republican Party. The G.O.P. is feckless when it comes to fulfilling the promises of their campaign rhetoric. So called conservatives are washing their hands clean on every major issue they were voted into office to fix; and therefore, deceiving themselves into the belief that they will not be held accountable for denying the Truth on judgment day.

The G.O.P. claims to be the party of prudence, tradition, objective morality, cultural preservation, limited government, and sound fiscal policy. Campaign rhetoric and grandiose speeches at Congress do not comport with the results of their governing. The last time the Republican Party held as much power at the federal level as they do now, the outcome was two lost wars, a foreign policy in total shambles, the construction of a massive security state apparatus, increased size and scope of federal involvement in health care, further centralization of the education system, a continued increase in the national debt, the collapse of the housing bubble, and a financial crisis so vast that it almost destroyed the world economy. In addition to this, they totally failed to end the destructive practice of abortion, which is a promise made during every election cycle – vote for the Republican and the end of abortion will be just around the corner – or so we are told. This issue seems to keep getting kicked down the road no matter how much power the “pro-life” party has.

That was then. What about now? Have they learned anything from their past mistakes?

Well, the record is pretty much the same thing. The federal government is still fully involved in destabilizing America’s health care. The bill passed in the House of Representatives intending to fix the problems of the ACA will actually do more to bolster the progressives in the Democratic Party, which will inevitably lead to a shift in majority power resulting in single payer system. Securing the border and solving the immigration issues our country is facing has been placed on the shelf. The federal budget is as bloated as ever with no end in sight to the destructive end of our national debt. Tax cuts to the middle class are nowhere to be found. The implementation of a reasonably sane foreign policy is being abrogated in order to perpetuate the neocon madness of the Bush administration following 9/11. Planned Parenthood remains subsidized while abortion remains a legal medical practice. And finally, nothing has been done to counteract the Obergefell decision, which is basically accepted as law by judicial fiat.

There is literally no reason whatsoever to vote for a Republican candidate at this point. They are a totally worthless opposition party when they are the minority in Congress, they accomplish nothing when they are the majority power, and whatever it is they do accomplish is likely to end up in complete disaster for the country generally, and middle America specifically. Winning elections by duping Christians is about the extent of their political talents.

But isn’t politics a game of pragmatics? Is it naïve to expect governing to take place within the parameters of truth, beauty, and goodness?

If truth, beauty, and goodness are found within the parameters of political naiveté, then this is an indication of how corrupt American politics has become.

Should we compromise on truth? Should we compromise on policies regarding the budget, foreign policy implementation, regulatory practices of the economy, and on issues concerning the preservation of life and marriage? How can we justify comprising moral principles in politics when doing so at the individual level is a violation of integrity and conscience?

This too is a modernist error, that the private and public realm of the moral order can be strictly demarcated where duty binds the individual, but pragmatic abandonment of truth in the public realm is a sign of moral prudence ensuring the “right results.”

Contemporary politics is guided by a diabolically deceptive principle that subordinates truth to results. Both political parties have internalized this deception and falsely proclaim its merits. Republicans concentrate their efforts toward the “result” of winning elections and holding office so that backroom favors might be fulfilled to the donor class pulling the legislative strings. The lust for power and prestige are the false idols sought after in the endless parade of election cycles. Far from the personal character of the modern statesman is the desire to wield the sword of justice according to God’s law, the natural law, and the common good.

The G.O.P. has chosen political pragmatism over truth. They have allowed the spirit of Pilate’s spinelessness to prevail within their chambers.


– Lucas G. Westman

[1] John 19:11

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