The political events of the last month have been fueled by a growing sense of arrogance and entitlement which has infected state Republican leadership and driven them far from both the ideals they were elected to represent, and the people they were elected to serve.
I write this as someone who is a fellow sinner, as someone who understands arrogance fueled ambition and the tragic consequences it can have on his own personal and professional life, and the harm it can do to those around you. My blogging screen name, Icarus, is used as a constant reminder to myself to be wary of the dangers of this arrogance. I do not wish to fly too close to the sun again.
I was fortunate to have been traveling and unavailable to compose immediate blog posts when the two major stories of this saga have unfolded. It has given me the opportunity to try and collect my thoughts on these events, attempt to gain proper perspective of the magnitude of what state Republicans are facing, the gravity of the consequences of actions of Republicans over the next month, and the sense of urgency that swift and decisive corrective action must be taken to not just paper over the most egregious actions, but that wholesale changes must be made.
Before we address these issues, however, I feel it important to discuss the situation of Glenn Richardson, the man. It is an understatement to say that I have not been a fan of Speaker Richardson. It is for this reason I did not write on this event in the days after his suicide attempt. He is someone I thought should have been replaced as speaker long before his issues of depression became public. It seemed disingenuous to join the chorus of those proclaiming his suicide attempt did not matter and they stood behind him without question.
It also seemed obvious that many screaming their support the loudest were standing behind him with knives sharpened, posturing for public goodwill while calculating their move for a change of power that was all but assured with an announcement so devastating that it was assured a man battling severe personal demons would also be able to fight off those constantly looking to improve their own position of power. Those that enabled Speaker Richardson to engage his own self destructive behavior would soon enough determine him no longer the conduit to their own power, but a liability threatening it. The actions of an ex-wife appears to have accomplished their work for them.
I intend to spend a bit of time dealing with the enablers over the next few days. But the chorus of those who proclaimed support for Glenn Richardson and his personal health are now silent. His power soon gone, the still troubled man is now officially broken. The attention of most wishing to maintain or improve their position have moved on.
I equate the story of Speaker Richardson, and my own, to that of the prodigal son. There are few things more personally embarrassing, nor more of a blow to personal self image, than knowing you have taken everything you had and squandered it while living a life of this world while ignoring the path to an eternal life beyond. The prodigal son is given to us as an explanation that redemption is available for those who ask for it, but the process is not like hitting a reset button.
The prodigal son, like most politicians or successful businesspeople, had lots of friends when times were good. There are many willing to hang on and eat from the table of those who will provide eat, drink, and other party elements. The Entourage culture has existed for over 2,000 years. It is easy in politics to forget that those who are friendly are not your friends. Most exist to get what they can from you, and when they no longer can, they will move on to those who can continue to grant them favors.
It is clear from his actions this week that Richardson still has not “hit bottom”. The prodigal son had to spend time eating among the pigs before realizing that returning to his father’s house as a servant was better than living alone and hungry among vermin in the wilderness. I now understand the importance of this passage. Losing everything you have can make you understand the importance of the things that cannot be taken from you in this world, and especially the importance of the eternal world I hope to one day attain.
The ending of the story of the prodigal son provides reassurance to those who still wander the wilderness. It can provide a safety net to those who are still engaging in loose living, knowing that no matter how badly they may screw up, they can always return home to a father with open arms and a joyous celebration.
For me, the return home was bitter sweet, as my earthly father had passed away during my wayward years, and wasn’t there to greet me with the embrace described in the book of Luke. It is equally unlikely that Speaker Richardson will not meet his wife when he returns from the wilderness. The characters at the feast of the fatted calf are not meant to be our earthly family, but those who remain in the family of faith; those who value salvation and redemption.
I will continue to keep private citizen Richardson in my prayers, and would encourage you to do the same. He will need every one of them.
I will also continue to write over the next days, weeks, and months about Speaker Richardson, the enablers in the house, and other Republican leaders who continue to squander the values of the Republican party with riotous living. Many of these posts will be cold and blunt. I believe the Speaker is not the only person who should or will leave their seat of power. There are many who need to return to their father’s house as servants.
Redemption is a gift that is available to us all. Yet it is not a gift that is available merely by saying “I’m sorry.” or “I won’t do that again”.
Many of our leaders have earned some time among the pigs.