I've been through withdrawal -- no, not drugs or alcohol. My addiction was PEAD, that is, pre-election anxiety disorder. I became a junkie, hooked on cable network news-talk.
Through the campaign, after dinner when I was home, I parked myself in front of the tube (something I normally warn against) and surfed the cable talk shows, hungry for the latest tidbit about the Bush-Kerry contest. And I wasn't above shouting at the TV as the Kerry supporters battled the Bush supporters.
I was not alone. The ratings show that millions of Americans did the same thing.
What do we do after the election? I guess I had gotten so used to it, I stayed glued to the evening cable-talk shows. Then one night in mid-December, I had two blinding revelations.
The first was that I was listening to endless, banal chatter. I began to realize that people were making up issues just to have something to talk about. On dull news days, commentary turned into performance art, manufacturing controversy to continue talk-show conversation before boisterous audiences.
The second revelation is that, whether it was left or right, the whole thing was driven by ideology. In our relativistic age when we can't come to an agreement on the common good, we line up behind manmade utopian ideologies. One scheme is on the left; one is on the right. Both are fatally flawed.
The great sage Russell Kirk used to say that ideology is the enemy of the Gospel and of historic conservatism. That's because ideological liberals, traditionally, have believed that you could use the instruments of government for social engineering. Historic conservatives, on the other hand, have believed that what moves a society is not government, but traditions, heritage, and religious convictions. If you believe in truth, revealed through Scripture, experience, and the wisdom of the ages, then an ideology, whether coming from the left or the right, making up ideas about how the world ought to work, is indeed the enemy. In the twentieth century tens of millions were killed in the name of one ideology or another.
I began watching to see if anybody was talking about something that wasn't ideological. The Discovery Channel was and, occasionally, PBS and the History Channel. But the talk shows? Not a chance.
The problem with red and blue America is that we have broken down into two warring, ideological camps. Truth is dead, and only power remains. And the cable groupies feast on them.
By New Year's Eve, I was set free. The TV is off, and I've read some great books. Oh, I still watch what's going on in Washington, of course, because my job on this broadcast is to bring Christian truth to bear on the issues. But I've put things into perspective once again.
Most of Washington centers on ideological power, not public service. It is a government town, and it tends toward utopianism of the right or the left. It would not be very polite at a Washington dinner party to announce that the kingdoms of this world are passing away. People who live for the latest power play would be scandalized. But Christians know that it is true. So, don't be sucked in by the babble and the ideologies. Instead, read a good book, preferably a classic with a long view.