I've been reading the book of Daniel for the last week or so, and it's caused me to revisit my role in politics as a Christian. Every story (for the first half, at least) is an interaction with political authority, and often deliberate disobedience in order to obey God. The difficult thing for us in the US is that we are as much governed as we are part of the government. There is still a sense here of government by the consent of the governed. To make real political change, do I have to change the minds of a few powerful men, or of a few thousands of my neighbors? The constitution says the latter, but we behave as if it is the former.
The great criticisms of the republic were that it always devolved into oppression of the minority for the gain of the majority. And we have seen that play out. Factions must be preserved for the sake of liberty. In Federalist No. 10 Madison argued that a larger representative republic would be more virtuous. It would be harder for an evil politician to pull the wool over the eyes of the majority. I fear that mass media and consumerism have changed that. It's not very difficult today for a very rich man to convince a very large number of people that almost anything is true (as long as it's not Christianity). Humanism is the new majority religion.
What do we do about it as Christians? Do we fight for legislation that expresses our morality rather than a humanist one? When it's asked that way, the answer seems an obvious no. Do we use our voice to speak up for those who are powerless? Well, yes, obviously. Knowing the powerful influence of culture on ourselves, do we fight acceptance of idolatrous and evil ideas into mainstream culture for the sake of progeny?
Daniel simply lived his life in obedience to God, no matter what the king decreed. He didn't ask the king to change his mind. His life and God's miraculous power changed the king's heart. But as members of our own government, can we take such a passive role?