Guilty Politics

May 21, 2014

Yesterday, conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza entered a guilty plea in a campaign finance case that could land him in jail for over a year. The best-selling author had been a hero among conservatives in recent years due to his hateful (and often inaccurate) rhetoric against President Barack Obama. In the summer of 2012, D'Souza seemed at the height of his political influence as his anti-Obama film landed in theaters. However, his fall from political grace started shortly thereafter. In October of 2012, D'Souza was outed by conservative Christian publication World Magazine for having a mistress (who was also married). The revelation cost D'Souza his job as president of The King's College, a Christian university in New York City. During that election year, D'Souza also launched the "straw donor" scheme that landed him in federal court. He essentially laundered money through others to help the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of a friend, and he used his mistress and her husband to route some of the illegal donations. D'Souza and his supporters claimed for the months that the case against him was merely political revenge for his attacks on Obama. However, he yesterday admitted that he not only broke the law but did so knowingly. The plea deal led one commentator to joke that "Dinesh D'Souza pleads guilty, becomes part of Obama's conspiracy against him."

D'Souza's case is a truly tragic one. Ends-justifies-the-means politics can lead one to make many outrageous comments against political opponents, and to break the law to help friends. While such politics may be employed by those on both sides of the political spectrum, it should not be utilized by Christians. Being a Christian in politics must be about more than just issues; it must also be about acting ethically and Christlike. D'Souza's vitriolic rhetoric should have led Christians to keep their distance, but instead conservative Christians praised him, invited him to events, and hired him because they liked his politics. Ultimately, that is the tragedy of this case - not that D'Souza fell from influence but that he rose there among Christians in the first place.