When Standard & Poor’s publicized its downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, the response was as expected as it was tragic – endless finger pointing.
TheObamaadministration and U.S. Treasury Department blamed S&P, citing inaccurate accounting and hasty judgment.

MittRomney placed much blame on the president, citing poor leadership and faulty economic decisions.

Romney’s critiques were echoed by RickSantorum and MichelleBachmann, with the former citing an “epic failure” in presidential leadership and the latter calling for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s immediate resignation.

More broadly, Republican leaders (both mainstream and TeaParty varieties) blamed Democrats, citing excessive spending and refusal to make sufficient budgetary cuts.

Democratic leaders blamed Republicans (both mainstream and TeaParty varieties), citing a previous decade of unrestrained spending and refusal to cooperate with them to reach an agreement on budget cuts and tax increases.

While the downgrade has been shocking, the response has been anything but.

When a difficult or challenging situation arises, instead of coming together, instead of uniting to work for the common good, everyone – from the politicians to the pundits to the populace – plays the “blame game.”

It’s a classic “whodunit” plot arising from a tragic ideology that prizes power and position no matter the cost – even the good of the nation and its people.

It seems our nation’s leaders, in an effort to obtain or stay in office, would rather demonize one another instead of work together for the common good.

It’s an adult version of “king (or queen) of the mountain,” which our media and citizenry encourage leaders to play.

This in itself is tragic, but it’s made more so by considering what S&P said about its decision:

“The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year’s wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently.”

In other words, a key reason for the downgrade had nothing to do with mathematics or debt-to-GDP ratio. Rather, it was the polarized political climate of Washington “as usual.”

The downgrade was the result of many factors, to be sure, but the fact that S&P cited the political environment reveals how broken our political system has become.

It’s so broken that the system and those enslaved to it cannot recognize the insanity of responding to a downgrade due in part to “political brinkmanship” with still more “political brinkmanship.”

Our leaders (and the constituents who encourage such behavior) have become so blinded by this Nietzchean “will to power” that they cannot recognize their own foolishness because only fools blinded by uninhibited ambition would continue on the path that brought them to this place.

On every coin and bill printed in the United States appears the Latin phrase E pluribus unum — “Out of many, one.”

Perhaps this simple yet profound statement still holds out hope for this nation – if it can find a way to move past partisan politics and come together for the common good of all people, both here and abroad.

It is time to stop blaming one another and finding scapegoats, and it is time to start accepting our present situation as our lot (regardless of who is responsible) so that we can begin looking for workable solutions.

It is time to focus on cooperation rather than criticism. We need people seeking solutions that benefit all, not sound bites that benefit upcoming election campaigns.

It’s time to address our national problems rather than using them as pawns to obtain power.

The question is: Do the American people and their leaders have the humility to repent of a destructive “will to power” and repent to a constructive “will to the common good”?

ZachDawes is co-pastor with his wife, Peyton, of First Baptist Church in Mount Gilead, N.C. He blogs at Scribblings.

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