The Mandate of Heaven

Professors around the world, cringe! We’re starting off this post with a little Wikipedia quote.

The Mandate of Heaven is based on four leading ideas:

  1. The right to rule China is granted by Heaven.
  2. There can be only one legitimate ruler of China.
  3. The right to rule is based on the virtue of the ruler and his good performance as a steward for Heaven.
  4. The right to rule may be passed down from father to son, but only on the conditions established above. Once the Mandate is lost, the will of Heaven towards a successor will only be known by the working out of the imponderable force of events in human history.

These four leading ideas have important implications:

  1. Legitimization of the ruling house in the eyes of the people who come under its sway.
  2. Times of divided rule require some rationalization after the fact to establish which ruler can claim truly to have the Mandate.
  3. The rulers put checks on their own behavior, and are encouraged to invest in the well-being of their subjects.
  4. The rulers necessarily fear rebellion, possibly because they believe in active intervention from Heaven, and/or possibly because they know that misbehavior will give positive sanction to attempts by others to overthrow them.

Yeah, this is some heavy stuff, and I’m referring to China of all places. Aren’t we supposed to hate them? Well, here’s the deal. This is from the pre-Communist days of China, so I think it’s okay. I am awaiting word from Conservative heartthrob Erick Erickson on the official stance from the Conservative movement on the issue. I’ll let you know if we get it.

This is in no way an attempt to attribute what goes on down here to the goings on upstairs. I’m one that believes God has given us the tools necessary to get there, but we need to work for it. I am also not claiming this predicts why Obama won or why Romney lost, nor am I predicting what will happen in two and four years. However, with all the talk the politicians give us concerning their “mandate” to do this or that based on ballot counts, we might as well analyze if, historically, they are right. Personally, I think a very narrow margin in election results tends to mean shut up because you got lucky. Whatever.

Let’s start with the four leading ideas of the Mandate of Heaven, shall we?

1. The right to rule China is granted by Heaven.

Given the source of the Mandate of Heaven, we probably shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the idea that Heaven directly interferes with our politics. Heaven then and Heaven now are quite different. If the right to rule is given by Heaven, then we mean this is a time of peace, food is plenty, money is attainable and the livestock aren’t dying from locusts. This is not, however, a time of peace. Such a time as considered way back in the day is probably inconceivable now, but by modern standards, this is in no way a time of peace either. We are still involved in conflicts around the world and guerrilla groups still attack our troops and allies. The economy is incredibly weak. No locusts yet, but starving isn’t exactly uncommon. We are still waiting on confirmation of astrological signs that the spirits seek the immediate removal of Obama from office, though.

2. There can be only one legitimate ruler of China.

One of the reasons our government tends to become stagnant and unable to do anything is because there are two rulers of the U.S. government: The President and Congress. One can overrule the other (yay checks and balances!). In long gone days, two rulers meant war, or at least poisoned wine. The political wars of today are different. There is sadly very little bloodshed. Or poisoned wine.

3.  The right to rule is based on the virtue of the ruler and his good performance as a steward for Heaven.

>Virtue.

Next point, please.

4. The right to rule may be passed down from father to son, but only on the conditions established above. Once the Mandate is lost, the will of Heaven towards a successor will only be known by the working out of the imponderable force of events in human history.

No, I’m not advocating nepotism or hereditary presidency (John Adams did that for us!). A ruler may choose his successor, but if the mandate is lost, it doesn’t matter who you choose. This happened in 2000. Clinton’s successor was weak and, as a result, it did not matter he was set to carry on the legacy of the one who came before him. The “will of Heaven” made itself known. The economy was in terrible pain from the dot coms. Poverty was escalating. The Mandate then went to the Republicans, who enjoyed six years of reign before scandals rocked their ranks and the Democrats began to slip back in. In 2008, Bush did not have a successor. The economy, once again, played a big role. The party in power lost the last vestiges of its power while the Democrats took hold.

Now, let’s look at the Mandate of Heaven’s implications.

1. Legitimization of the ruling house in the eyes of the people who come under its sway.

The rule of the Democrats in 2008 was seen as legitimate. A fairly solid majority of Americans voted for Democratic candidates, and they took both the presidency and the Congress, thus fulfilling the second idea of the Mandate of Heaven – united under blue, there was only one ruler.

2. Times of divided rule require some rationalization after the fact to establish which ruler can claim truly to have the Mandate.

Another tricky one. You see, divided rule, despite a unified government, came in the form of the dissenting opinions from the masses. Those the president chose to ignore in his first two years rose up and and gave Republicans the House again.  Under the mandate, that would mean “rationalization” was in order… but it did not come. There was no compromising what they wanted. To be fair, the Republicans were just as strict, but the mandate at the time appeared to be with them. As a result, government continued to not function. It stagnated once more.

3. The rulers put checks on their own behavior, and are encouraged to invest in the well-being of their subjects.

This ties into the second implication. Here, the ruler did not put a check on himself. He believed himself to be right in all things and did not listen to the other side. The economy grew worse. Businesses began to struggle more.

4. The rulers necessarily fear rebellion, possibly because they believe in active intervention from Heaven, and/or possibly because they know that misbehavior will give positive sanction to attempts by others to overthrow them.

But did Obama in 2012 fear rebellion? Clearly he did. His campaign did struggle for a bit. They were desperate in their need to make sure Romney did not win. And look at how close it is. He narrowly won the popular vote. Think about that. 51%, and that’s rounding up. But he won, and, arguably, has the mandate he wants to continue with what he was doing. Harry Reid called it a mandate. John Boehner said it wasn’t one. Less than 3% does not indicate to me a mandate. It tells me the people were not enthused with the alternative. They have become complacent.

What happens next is anyone’s guess, but while I do not believe in a Mandate of Heaven, per se, I do believe that what the government is doing now does not work and will not work. Something, whether it be the ruling party or the two-party system as a whole, needs to change. It would seem that Heaven thinks that way, too.

About these ads

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s