Politics is not a moral purity system, which is why even the most trustworthy politician should show a little taint. They don’t always have to be right; and there’s nothing wrong with compromise and a little corruption, which is why Washington needed to bail out the banks in 2008. So what is it then about money in this country that goes past the actual abuse to which it is put in our political system? What kind of religious reflex does the aversion to money reflect in a Christian and post-Christian country such as the United States? What is to trust about people who turn up their nose at even the mere mention of money like it was something filthy, something one shouldn’t touch, or that shouldn’t touch the things that matter most?
At the heart of Christendom, there’s a basic confusion at work. With a halo and bright like white snow, Sanders acts like Jesus in the Temple. In this country, a lot of people like that radical gesture. But that was in the Temple, and even there the gesture made no necessary sense. This is politics, not religion. One might well indeed appreciate the gesture of wanting to throw out the money changers, unless in this case the better course of wisdom is to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. In the political sphere, that Sanders has done no wrong actually represents a claim against him.
Money matters in politics, there’s no way around that. The open question is how and to what purpose. The next logical step in the theo-political calculus is for someone to call Clinton a Pharisee. It’s not always pretty. Appreciating that impurity is what makes us human, I was always going to vote for Clinton with a whole heart. It’s why I like her as a national leader on so many of the issues that matter most to our democracy, and why I fundamentally trust her as a politician. There’s no holier than thou about her.