Friday, 20 January 2017

The Biblical transition of power from Moses to Joshua

 The Biblical transition of power from Moses to Joshua provides a blueprint for how much involvement outgoing President Obama should have in national policy after the election. Moses famously was denied entry to the Promised Land. A close reading of the text, however, shows that Moses was only denied entry as the leader of the Israelites. But he could have passed the baton to Joshua and tagged along as a citizen.

The reason Moses refused to do that is a testament to his great leadership. Moses did not want the people, in the inevitable dissensions over major decisions, to challenge Joshua’s leadership before him. The aura of leadership that Moses had accrued over decades of power and unique encounters with the Divine, would be too much for Joshua to overcome. When it was time to go, Moses disappeared from the national scene entirely.

This is what all former Presidents have done in recent history, as we witnessed most recently with President Bush’s retreat to Texas. A “shadow president” is not good for the country or for the loyal opposition. His presidential aura should not be put to work to challenge his successor, regardless of any misgivings about his positions. Few men have occupied the Oval Office; respect for that office demands that they leave it to other loyal opposition to challenge the current occupant.