But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” II Corinthians 13:11
When I was a 5-year-old child I kept a Treasure Chest in my grandparent’s kitchen cabinet. Every weekend that I spent with them I would retrieve my treasure and spend countless hours reveling in my priceless collection of gold, diamonds, and pearls. At least that’s the way I saw it. In reality my “Treasure Chest” was just an old coffee can and my “treasure” was just an assortment of spare pocket change my grandparents donated from time to time for little chores I did.
One weekend after all tabulations were complete, my grandfather announced I had amassed a fortune of around thirty-seven dollars. Because my grandfather worked in the local mill and needed change for the Coca-Cola and snack machines, he proposed to make me a grand bargain. He pulled out a crisp new fifty-dollar bill and handed it to me. While I examined this new addition to my collection, my grandfather began sweeping up the assorted piles and stacks of coins. As his true intentions dawned on me, I burst into tears. I sobbed uncontrollably at the idea that my own grandfather would steal my priceless treasure – and right in front of my very eyes!
While I was in meltdown, my grandparents pleaded with me to understand that a fifty dollar bill is worth a lot more than thirty-seven dollars in coins. But I would have none of their nonsense. It was obvious that this one piece of paper could never even come close to the value of what they were trying to take from me. My grandparents had taught me the names of the various coins and ascribed a numeric value to each. A penny was worth a measly one cent, while a quarter was worth a whole twenty-five. I dutifully adopted the terms they used, but I had no concrete understanding of their system and really couldn’t care less. I just liked the way the coins felt in my hands, the musical jingly sound they made when shaken together, and the way I could make neat little stacks of each kind. It produced an emotional comfort and satisfaction unlike any other game I played. Also, I was certain I had found a flaw in their explanation when they insisted a dime was worth more than a nickel when any fool could see that was impossible since a dime was barely half the size.
Eventually my grandfather gave up, took back his fifty-dollar bill, and gave me back all my coins. I was relieved, but unsure that I would ever be able to trust my grandparents again after this little flimflam.
And then I grew up.
I’m not sure when it finally sunk in that a fifty-dollar bill is actually worth more than thirty-seven dollars in coins – but once it did, my grandfather no longer made the same offer. I’ve also never found another adult whether it be a friend, family member, or business owner who will propose the same deal. It seems that once you reach a certain age and achieve a certain level of emotional maturity, the trade of an object of greater value for something of lesser value is rightly viewed as unreasonable – except to a child. Politicians realize this, and this is why they make such irrational promises to their constituents. Politicians rely upon childish voters.
The childish voter speaks as a child. They use words that discourage discussion or deeper thought on a subject. One word labels usually suffice. Disagree with President Obama? You’re a “racist!” Have issues with gay marriage? You’re a “homophobe!” It seems the more childish the speaker, the longer the childish label they string together. Support border control? You’re a “jingoistic immigrant hating xenophobe!” In favor of voter id? You’re a “bigoted racist vote suppressing fascist Klansman!” It’s like a game of Mad Libs.
The childish voter thinks as a child. Because of this they easily fall under the spell of emotional political speeches that are full of subjective concepts, which defy concrete definition. They want the rich to “pay their fair share” – though they cannot define “fair.” They are in favor of a “living wage” – though they cannot put a number to it. They are against anything “big” such as “big banks,” “big business,” “big oil” – though they cannot provide the parameters. They demand “free” healthcare, childcare, birth control, education, and a myriad of other goodies – though any adult knows nothing is “free.” To coin a phrase, they “hope” for “change.”
The childish voter reasons as a child. They see their personal issue as the one and only worthy consideration. They do not realize, or seem to care, that the world does not revolve around their issue just because it is at the center of their personal universe. If government will just grant them this one “treasure” then all will be perfect. They will gladly trade their priceless life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for the pocket change of political promises. After all, the Constitution to them is just an old piece of paper.
My fellow Americans, it is past time to put away childish things.