Ethics American political parties stand-off

Published on October 30th, 2012 | by American Vision


Putting Principle Before Party

In the made-for-TV-movie Brian’s Song (1971), we gain a glimpse of two very different men who become inseparable friends in life and devoted to one another in death. Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) played for the Chicago Bears. The depth of their friendship was tested when Piccolo developed cancer and died. While Brian’s Song was a great sports movie, it’s underlying theme expressed what really counted in life and death, and it wasn’t football. The movie was based on Sayer’s autobiography “I Am Third,” a rather odd title for a book until you understand it’s a statement about priorities: “The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.”

When I survey the political landscape today, Sayer’s autobiography comes to mind. Political party loyalty should be no higher than fourth on anyone’s list of priorities. Given what we know of politics and politicians today, it deserves a ranking no higher than 20th. [product id="56" align="right" size="small"]

Zell Miller put family above his Party. Later in his speech, he put God above all. Miller reached a turning point in his political life when he saw that he had been wrong on abortion and the political party that made his career and defined his ideals but had strayed from its founding principles. Jimmy Carter accused Miller of betraying “our trust.” Who’s the “our”? The Democrat Party. To whom was Miller being “disloyal”? The Democrat Party. Jimmy Carter believes that Party comes before principle. Gale Sayers would not agree.

There’s another person who would be shocked by Jimmy Carter’s blind loyalty to a political party over eternal principles of right and wrong–Martin Niemöller. He was a decorated German submarine commander in World War I and a committed nationalist. Like so many in the early days of Hitler’s rise to power, Niemoeller saw in Germany’s new leader hope for the nation. In his autobiography From U-Boat to Pulpit, he included his belief that “Hitler’s triumph had at last brought light to Germany. He was sure it would bring about the ‘National Revival’ for which he himself had fought so long.”[1] Many people believed as Niemöller did. Hitler was viewed as the savior of Germany, “fulfilling a divine mission.”

Adolf Hitler did not want divided loyalties. There was no “I am third.” It was only who was first. There were no lesser loyalties. To accomplish the brainwashing task, Hitler developed the Führerprinzip, or “leader principle” that established that he was the only person to whom Party members swore loyalty unto death. Here is one of its provisions: [product id="1493" align="left" size="small"]

The authority of the Fuehrer is complete and all-embracing; it unites in itself all the means of political direction; it extends into all fields of national life; it embraces the entire people, which is bound to the Fuehrer in loyalty and obedience.

Nazism was all about “uncritical loyalty” to Hitler and the party. No exceptions. Heinrich Himmler became Reich Leader of the SS in 1929. The SS motto was Meine Ehre heisst Treue (“Loyalty is My Honor”).

At first, Niemoeller was a willing party loyalist, but “less than two years after the publication of his autobiography and the Nazi press praise for the book, Niemöller had become completely disillusioned.”[2] He chose principle over party. How did he express his change of mind? He used his pulpit; that is, he spoke about his prior loyalty and denounced the party that he had supported. Sound familiar? Although the Democrat Party is not the Nazi Party, the belief in first principles over loyalty to a political party is truth for the ages. And it doesn’t matter what the party is. Of course, no political party is perfect, and it never will be. But if the time comes when your voice is not being heard, it’s time to take your loyalties elsewhere.

Endnotes:[1] William L. Shirer, 20th Century Journey: The Nightmare Years–1930-1940 (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1984), 152.
[2] Shirer, 20th Century Journey: The Nightmare Years–1930-1940, 152.

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About the Author

American Vision’s mission is to Restore America to its Biblical Foundation—from Genesis to Revelation. American Vision (AV) has been at the heart of worldview study since 1978, providing resources to exhort Christian families and individuals to live by a Biblically based worldview. Whether by making available educational resources about God & Government, or by tackling the formidable issue of eschatology in the Church, AV is on the front lines, circulating material around the globe to Christians passionate to meet God on His terms in every area of life—right now and for generations to come.

21 Responses to Putting Principle Before Party

  1. Arrow says:

    This article is way off the mark. Miller simply found a better vehicle for his liberal policies. He supported GW Bush as he implemented a left-liberal agenda…same as the Democrats. True, he was willing to switch parties; yet, AV seems to fail to see the principles while focusing on the parties…while pretending to write an article against that very same thing.

    Is this American Vision…or the Sean Hannity Show?

    AV demonstrates great depth of understanding of Biblical principles, yet repeatedly fails to apply them to politics. Why should this be so difficult?

  2. Dr. Duckenheimer says:

    OK, good article. But, looking at comments above and numerous other places, and that people don’t understand what’s going on in politics, I think some people may not understand that this should apply to the Republican Party as well. Or, was it the intention of the author to only mention Zell Miller and Democrats? And, who’s the “I” in “When I survey…”?

    That’s the thing. People will vote their principles. Either for their lifestyle of gaining free money (Democrat voters) or to protect their family and freedoms by way of government (or more government) (Republican voters) as if government is ever concerned with about freedoms. Well, they are; they’re just concerned that you have them.

    I think the biggest thing is that the Church and Republican voters in general are ignorant of the “usual” party that they support and how government should be viewed. We can say vote with principle all day long, but it will only come down to “my principles are for family and freedoms; therefore, I need to vote Republican to maintain those freedoms.” It’s no different than the war issue. “We need to preserve our freedoms; therefore, we need to send our troops into harms way.” Send our troops in harms way to prevent destruction though there is no immediate threat to our freedoms. Yet, in the end, it’s nothing but parasitic growth at home which also results in loss of freedoms.

    So, the question is what principles should we hold to? Well, the Bible’s. For political practices, what the Framers and Founders intended our government to be. Yes, Jesus comes first. Holding that principle does not mean to vote for a legislation or candidate that will preserve that principle. Individuals hold up Jesus when they are saved. There is no man-made law that can override this. So, why are we voting for people that spew out “we are all children of the same god” or people that make irrelevant promises to hold up certain values? Our friends (others) have nothing to do with government. The business practices, if you’re looking for freedoms, should never be hindered by regulations or taxes or any such government interactions. So, why are we voting for somebody that spews out, “if I cut $1 Trillion it will lose jobs”? As for the “I”, I don’t need a human leader, rather master, to tell me what to do. Doesn’t this go to the first principle?

    OK, so, I have to make mention of Ron Paul. I think it makes a much better example than Zell Miller. Dr. Paul did hold up principles that would promote freedoms and, believe it or not, the Christian heritage. For this, he received retribution. Such as, he was boo’d in South Carolina for proposing to apply biblical principle when comes to war. Boo’d swiftly and with full contempt. They never contemplated what was being said; they only wanted to preserve their lifestyle by receiving funds for the glorified government work at their military bases. He received lies against him. One lie came in a letter on on his candidate profile page stating that he was not a conservative (or the conservative that we understand). Then, of course, there’s the RNC convention and delegation. So, it’s not just the Democrats that do this. It’s the Republicans as well. When people step out of line in the Republican Party even for sticking to principle of Jesus first, others second, I am third, the Party will be just as evil as the “other” party. Remember: it’s Biblical principles versus centralization, and the both parties are not for Biblical principles.

    Besides, the only reason Zell Miller went to the RNC to support Bush was to support the Republican war agenda.

    As for the underlying comparison of Democrats to Hitler, should I mention the kicking out the Reagan hologram, dwindling anything rhetoric of God to no more than superficial noise, trying to rid of Huckabee from speaking – most likely because he was a pastor, and last and most concerning they promoted American Excetionalism over and over again.

    • E Harris says:

      Mr. Duckenheimer,

      True, we vote for our wants or principles. But there are smart ways to do things, and stupid ways to (try to) do things. The political goal is to convert as many as possible to your way of thinking and doing things. The only way to effectively do this without collapsing into tyranny: is by the example of individual responsibility. But individual responsibility only speaks to the physical side of the ‘goodness’ equation.

      * “So, why are we voting for people that spew out “we are all children of the same god” or people that make irrelevant promises to hold up certain values?”

      The only ultimate purpose for winning in politics, is to BUY TIME for the spread of the gospel. In other words, if politics is properly done: it protects life, liberty, property to a sufficient degree in order to allow the spread of the gospel into more lives, worldwide!! It’s the gospel that converts people’s hearts & souls and makes them (inwardly) AGREE WITH outward goodness.

      • Dr. Duckenheimer says:

        So, what determines smart and stupid? Really, that argument is irrelevant because I’ll say that the smart thing is one way while you say the other way is the smart way. However, if we take your argument, we will have to cut out all of what the Republicans are doing and really proposing to do not just their rhetoric. We, also, have to cut out the differences of how you and I see government and how it should conduct itself. Your argument to do the “smart way” is really nothing but an attempt to deduce my and others’ (anarcho-capitalist, libertarian, biblical government advocates) argument to something no more relevant than yours so as to make your argument appear something more.

        Nobody wins in politics except people that are at the table of the masters. “BUY TIME for the spread of the gospel”? For real, you said that? Again, I’ll ask the question but with reference to your statement. If this is our ultimate goal, to spread the Gospel, then why are we voting for somebody that makes empty promises, really, superficial statements to appease certain voting blocs? As if Jesus needs man-made governments to do such things. As if Paul, Stephen, Peter, and whoever died or were beaten advocated for a safer environment, given by the government, to preach the Gospel. As if a centralized, deceitful, tyrannical government that is the enemy of the Gospel would be so concerned about the spread of the Gospel – no, I’m not just talking about the Romans; I’m talking about our own government. If it’s the Church’s heart to spread the Gospel, then let it be that no matter what environment it is.

        Then, again, this all still leaves out the facts that have been all over the internet about the Republican party, the ordained party of God. Whenever a warevangilical argues from the Bible, it often times leaves out the truths of what they are supporting. This is why they like to argue from the Bible only. Because there are numerous ways to interpret the Bible and the illusion of maneuverability within it is easily practiced, one can defend his or her position no matter what. After given an undeniable verse from the Old Testament of how we should vote, the warevangilical can easily give an excuse such as pragmatics or say it’s not relevant to us. Really, it’s nothing but ignoring it. Therefore, the warevangilical’s position is justified by what? Negligence?

        In hindsight, yes, the warevangilical is right. But, that’s before we cut away all the facts and truths of the “God ordained party”. When the truth is exposed to the warevangilical, and assuming that he or she is not willing to admit error, he or she have no other options other than to leave the Bible by way of pragmatics or straight up ignoring it and give the only arguments “our side is better than their side” or “we need to stall for time”. Or, even to conjure up some kind of principle argument that deviates from the truth so as to give the only option of voting for their side. Are these good arguments? Are they even true?

        The Bible needs to be viewed as the authority even over government and be applied to current events. Current events and parties need to be examined with the viewpoints of the Bible. You don’t separate them. If you separate the two, then you’re separating the principle of Truth that was handed down through Creation away from the Creation, and treating Creation as if there are two worlds or realities. Government needs to be looked as a means to bring about justice not an answer to bringing about the Gospel. If that justice is abandoned, then the government needs to be rid of or at least be seen as an enemy of Christianity. Government needs to be viewed just as that – government. It doesn’t matter who is involved. There is no separation of good and evil (or lesser evil) within government. All parties are a conduit for corruption. If it is an enemy of Christianity, then it should never be justified not even with a vote. Especially, trying to make arguments for it.

      • Dr. Duckenheimer says:

        “In hindsight, yes, the warevangilical is right. But, that’s before we cut away all the facts and truths of the “God ordained party”.”

        What I meant to say is that before facts are looked at. Got mixed up a bit there.

      • Turtle says:

        Layla, this is the first blog I have received form you and you ralley got my attention. I had to go and read the blog from last week to find out about mr. Bean and saw that you also have a little Chi. I have two and love, love, love them. I have lost a two dogs and 4 cats in my lifetime and YES it is normal to hear them and still feel their presence long after they are gone.I want to thank you for sharing your fear of staying by yourself at night and also for sharing about the scary movie trailers. I am 46 and have been a single mom to two teenage girls. I do not like to stay by myself at night and do not go to scary movies; I do not like to see scary movie trailers. I alsways make sure I fall asleep while watching HGTV but I didn’t think to watch Disney. Thanks!Sonia

  3. E Harris says:

    “Of course, no political party is perfect, and it never will be.”

    So if a less-than-perfect man is wielding a sword, how can that ever be anything other than a ‘necessary evil’ and hence ‘a lesser of natural evils’?

    The civil sword can never be completely perfect or perfected. That is to place our hope in a man as savior. Our hope is to trust in Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit do its work in and through us, with the time we have available. Hopefully things will improve and/or we can edify each other more and more in the gospel. And someday Jesus will return.

    • E Harris says:

      The same thing could be said of all organizations, and I guess that is your deeper point? We need to put principle ahead of sectarianism of all kinds – including congregationalism and denominalism.

    • Mark says:

      “And someday Jesus will return”…….What basis do you base that on? The bible? A third return? Or maybe a fourth or fifth return? Really?

    • Arrow says:


      You once again set up the straw man argument of “nobody’s perfect”, therefore everyone is a “lesser evil”. This, of course, is a device allowing one to vote for anyone who they wish with no regard for biblical standards, just their own preference based on humanistic and relative standards.

      God however does characterize some people as “righteous” and others as “evil;”

      • E Harris says:

        An imperfect man who is good to his neighbor is a good.

        An imperfect man holding a sword (in order to protect, punish or avenge) is at best a necessary evil.

        Notice: it’s the combination of an imperfect man holding a sword that is a ‘necessary evil.’ Think about this, now. God once said that HE repented of the evil that he was about to do to man. God does not do evil, since evil is rebellion against God – unless God is a schizophrenic and the universe is meaningless. No. The evil that GOD was going to do: was natural evil (to inflict suffering, punishment, death). A man threatening to do ‘natural evil’ is a ‘necessary evil.’ Hence, politics is ALWAYS a decision and a battle over who and what is “the lesser of two evils.”

        You purists are more rapture-prone than the rapture crowd that votes!!! You’re already in a “heaven” of your own mind, where men are angels!

      • Arrow says:


        With due respect, your statements look like mental gymnastics to me. God established civil government and expects it to be operated in a righteous, not evil, fashion. Not “lesser evil”.

        You would not hire a “less evil” babysitter…yet you are willing to do so with the power of the sword. Makes no sense, biblically or otherwise.

      • Joel says:

        E Harris would do well to read the following article by Bojidar Marinov.

  4. Joseph Fleeman says:

    I have watched politicians for the last 30 some yrs.Both parties are 2 sides of the same coin.
    I won't go into detail about that.However if people would stop voting tradition and emotion and actually LISTEN to WHAT their party says and what they have done, they would vote them ALL out of office.
    Our Government needs an enema.
    We need to get decent men and women in there with good math skills and high moral values.One thing that needs to be changed is the life time appointment of Supreme court justices.They should ALL be voted in every 4 yrs.This would make them servants of the people instead of legislative dictators.

    • Tom says:

      I agree with Mr. Fleeman.
      But I would state that we might pay less attention to what they say and more to what they are doing.
      What they are doing on both sides ("D's" and "R's") is dismantling our republic.
      We should consider General election of high court Judges. The states govenors or the states legislatures should nominate federal judges that will operate within their states and those nominees should placed on the ballots of the states. Why should 100 senators who are not answerable to the all US voters make decisions on the judges who sits in my state? My govenor and legislature are answerable to the people of my state and they along with judges may be removed by us if they do not perform for us.
      Finally, I agree that all judges should be subjected to term limits. In addition, state legislators and govenors and US congress and senators as well should serve no more than 12 years in the same body. After an absense from either federal body for a period of years (TBD), they may run for election to the other body and/or for President of the US.
      Thanks for the opportunity to express my points of view.
      Tom (no party affiliation)

    • Tom says:

      I agree with Mr. Fleeman.
      But I would state that we might pay less attention to what they say and more to what they are doing.
      What they are doing on both sides ("D's" and "R's") is dismantling our republic.

    • Vance says:

      Joseph, I too have watched politics for a long time (I’m 60). I cannot agree with your statement that the two parties are two sides of the same coin. As the article says, there is no such thing as a perfect political party (and never will be), but the Republican Party, regardless its imperfections, stands on a platform CLEARLY distinct from that of the Democrats. Further, we may not agree with Mitt Romney on certain theological issues, but it should be clear to anyone who honestly (without political bias) compares the two candidates that Romney, for many reasons, stands head and shoulders above Obama as far as qualifications for the office are concerned.

      • Arrow says:

        So…then, the Republican Party is dedicated to a sound money system and abolition of fiat money…no, wait, they are the same as the Democrats there.

        Well, they are strongly in favor of cutting the size, power, and expense of government…no, wait, they have EXPANDED these at every opportunity, and are PROPOSING, IN WRITING, to do so now…same as the Democrats.

        Well, at least they have outlawed abort…no, wait, they have strongly cemented the status quo of murder of the unborn every time they have had the power do do otherwise…just like the Democrats.

        Foreign policy…well, same thing.

        Sorry Vance.

      • Vance says:

        No, Arrow, NOT the same as Democrats on any of these items. We might argue that the Republicans are not far enough away from the Democrats on these items (or some of them), but the same? Hardly!

      • Arrow says:

        So…then, the Republican Party is dedicated to a sound money system and abolition of fiat money…no, wait, they are the same as the Democrats there.

        Well, they are strongly in favor of cutting the size, power, and expense of government…no, wait, they have EXPANDED these at every opportunity, and are PROPOSING, IN WRITING, to do so now…same as the Democrats.

        Well, at least they have outlawed abort…no, wait, they have strongly cemented the status quo of murder of the unborn every time they have had the power do do otherwise…just like the Democrats.

      • Joel says:


        When it comes to the philosophical underpinnings of the political system endorsed by the Republican party, they are no different in substance to the Democratic party. Both parties are anti-Christian; both are militaristic and imperalistic; both are neo-Keyensian in their view of what drives the economy; both are pro-abortion; both favor the humanistic egalitarianism that have given rise to feminism and pro-homosexualism; both believe in strong, centralized government and market regulation; neither seeks to follow and uphold the Constitution; and neither believes in the efficacy of free market capitalism. And on and on.

        Sure, there are differences in style and rhetoric between the two. There are no doubt differences on the fringes. But when it comes down to the ideological foundation of their beliefs, Republicans and Democrats follow the same liberal, humanist script. The differences, then,–to the extent that they exist–are a matter of degree, not of kind.

        That’s why no matter who gets elected–Republican or Democrat–the results are the same: big government, massive debt, and cultural erosion. This is why we say there is no real difference between the two, despite the superficial political games they play in effort to win votes.

        Think of it this way. You can have a bucket of grape-flavored kool-aid dumped on your head or a bucket of orange-flavored kool-aid dumped on your head, but either way you’re getting wet and sticky.

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