The little bit of Boris in all of us

An old, but a pertinent, piece of documentary footage has re-emerged in light of Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister. Here is his sister, Rachel Johnson, speaking about him:

The quote, not an unknown one, is what Boris used to tell people he wanted to be when he grew up. World king.

I have already posted before about Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister. You can read that piece here. It was amusing to me to see how different people read that article. Some believed I was having a veiled dig at conservatives, others thought I was advocating the imposition of socially conservative values by government, others still believed I was arguing for some sort of Christian theonomy. None of those things were in view. I was simply highlighting that many of those who advocate the importance of social conservatism – who insist morality matters and that the Conservative Party is, indeed, the best party for Christians because of it – can no longer make that claim given that their socially liberal members have just elected a socially liberal, openly immoral man as their leader.

You may think government has no business imposing morality upon the populace. I noted in the piece that was a position one could credibly hold and wasn’t stating my position on it one way or the other. You may think Brexit has shifted the left-right political paradigm somewhat, I don’t deny that at all, but given that it was only right-wingers voting for him (presuming they’d be in one of the left-wing parties otherwise), at best, Brexit has shifted social conservatism down the order of priorities somewhat if that is the sole reason for his election. But, in truth, I doubt that was the sole reason he was elected and I think the days of a socially conservative Conservative Party grassroots have long gone, well before this particular premiership. My only real point was that those who claim morality matters, and that the Conservative Party are the Christian choice to deliver the morality that such people crave, can no longer say it is so. It is precisely the same for those American Evangelicals who said the selfsame thing yet happily voted Donald Trump into power.

As David Robertson noted on his blog:

The new Prime Minister is a social liberal. He is also one who lives by his socially liberal (im) morality. I find that depressing and deeply sad. It does matter to me that he is an adulterer – not least because if his wife (s) can’t trust him – then why should the voters? Yet this is nothing new.  Immorality amongst political leaders is not a new thing. If Christians were to say that we can only vote for those who live a good moral life, the choice would be severely restricted. 

The Wee Flea

Similarly, Brendan O’Neill said the following about the derangement surrounding Boris:

But there is just a little bit of Boris in all of us. Let’s just come back to the childhood quote from the man himself: he wanted to be World King. It seems he has settled for the slightly less grand role of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom instead. But I think O’Neill lands on something key. Boris sees himself as someone special. He has this Churchillian view of himself that he the heir of Great Britains who went before.

And here is where Boris captures something that we all think about ourselves. We all, essentially, want to be World King. Sure, we may not run for office, but we certainly want to be in control of our own destiny. We write best selling songs about it, top movies set it as the main story arc, novels affirm it and our politicians, teachers and others all insist it may be so. You can be whatever you want to be. Your destiny is in your own hands. You can be World King if you like, but if that’s not your thing you can certainly manage your life, your way, your rules and all the rest.

And for all those who moan about Boris’ immoral philandering, isn’t that essentially all Boris is doing? He wants to be World King, sure, but that at least starts with making one’s own rules. He simply wants to live however he wishes to live. You may call it immoral if you wish, but he is simply following his own sense of moral propriety in which he doesn’t care a jot about marital fidelity. That is what masters of their own destiny do, isn’t it? Whatever is right in their own eyes?

Not only can we not vote for those with an impeccable moral life, we all have the tendency of Boris in us. You may not have cheated on your spouse or be inclined to lie to your employers with any level of frequency. But we know full well that many of us would gladly be World King and, if not of the world, then certainly of our own lives. If we so frequently wish to live by our own rules, to subscribe to our own moral standards, what can we really say to someone else who seeks to do the same – even if they want to be Prime Minister?