Leave it to a sportswriter to provide one of the most insightful political comments I’ve seen in a while…
“There’s a fairly significant decision coming in this country in 2008. We in New Jersey and New Mexico and New London and New Wherever have one simple request as you mull over the candidacies of a black man, a white woman and many white men in the coming presidential debate: Treat them as candidates, not black candidates or female candidates or white candidates.”
I agree in principle with King’s comments, because it’s almost suffocating to live in this politically correct society sometimes.
I think it’s downright lazy to vote for Hillary solely because she’s a woman, and downright lazy to vote for Obama solely because he’s black. With that being said, I don’t think that flavor of downright lazy is any worse than voting for a candidate as a Christian solely because they’re “pro-life” or “anti-gay marriage,” as if those are the only moral issues on the table to figure out if a candidate is “really” Christian or not. I hate abortion (because I believe I’m called to value all life from conception to death), but I just may vote for a candidate who’s pro-choice but much more consistent with my beliefs across the board: how the gospel’s deep respect for life touches on the environment, the poor, war, marriage, etc.
As a result of that thinking, I’m a pretty big fan of Sen. Brownback from Kansas, who’s a social conservative (with significant reasons to back up his positions; most Republicans use abortion, etc as election ploys and pay no attention to the issue in their job), is committed to reformation of the twisted aspects of government, and is opposed to the war in Iraq (though this is more likely a one-time thing). I think the guy’s got his ducks in a row in a way that George W. couldn’t even sniff at. I like Obama, even though I’m not a big fan of his social liberalism; I think he’s a breath of fresh air.
With the warning of single-issue laziness being said, I certainly would LIKE to see a woman in the presidential office some time in America, and I would especially like to see a black person in office…given the social struggle they’ve had to undergo for equality in America (which is supposedly the land of the free but only granted equality under the law for blacks and other full-citizen minorities in 1964). So, while their gender or ethnicity might be a contributing factor among a host of other contributing factors for why I vote for them, I won’t vote for them solely b/c they’re a woman or a minority. You could apply this thinking to suggest to me that abortion is a more important issue among a host of important issues for you, and I’d be ok with that, but I’d want a conversation on why you think so. There are philosophical reasons behind being pro-life that apply equally to the death penalty, poverty, the environment, and war, but people don’t often consider those because their churches aren’t equipping them to be more educated voters, they’re telling them how to vote. And that’s dead wrong, both on the parts of church leadership and those who sit there and do exactly what they tell them without stopping to consider why in the world a responsible Christian should only care about two issues.
So I may vote for Obama, I may vote for Brownback, I may vote for McCain, and I may vote for Al Gore (if he runs). I know I won’t vote for Hillary (well, I should qualify that; if it ended up being Hillary vs. Giuliani or Gingrich, I’ll have to reconsider a bit), because she’s just as flip-floppy as John Kerry was in ’04, though I voted for him because the alternative was George Bush (who I’m not sure has ever allowed himself to try to connect the dots between his views on social conservatism [which I like] and how that intersects with big business, the environment, and the demand placed on his life by Christ to love his enemies).
In addition to all this, I need to revisit the discomfort I felt after voting for John Kerry; precisely because I felt the choice in 2004 was between bleh and double bleh. There are very legitimate third (or fourth or fifth) party candidates out there who I think more completely reflect my beliefs than the two political machines we call Democrat and Republican that often churn out candidates that I really don’t care for (but feel compelled to choose between because any other vote is a “wasted” vote in our winner-take-all presidential elections). Is it socially irresponsible for me to vote for a candidate I know doesn’t have a chance in hell of being elected, or is it the most socially responsible thing I can do to vote for that candidate, because I’m being true to the big picture of what I believe and subverting the system that demands I choose between two “legitimate” candidates? Is that a wasted vote or a maximized vote?
If all of this sounds like gobbledy-gook to you when you’re reading it, it may be because it IS gobbledy-gook (I certainly allow for that ever-present possibility), or it may be because you haven’t had enough time to grasp the big-picture reasons that drive me to think about politics, the state, and social issues in a certain way. It really boils down to two words for me as to my central concerns: primarily, Jesus. secondarily, church…somewhere way down the priority list, society. This commitment plays out in my thoughts often, and I’ll leave it at that for now.