Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Presidential Race 2008

For the better part of this year, I've been wrestling with my thoughts on the presidential race. These are not thoughts that I came to lightly. My best friend, AJ, and I have had countless conversations as we struggled to understand our own political thoughts and leanings, especially in light of our Christian faith. Several other friends have also helped me along in trying to untangle the mess of my political leanings. So, kind of to preface all of this, I did not just pick which ever candidate I thought was "cooler" and then make up arguments to vote for him. Nope.

I really like politics. I wouldn't say I love politics. But I enjoy them. I enjoy political commentary, political radio, watching the debates, and most of all - having conversations about politics (preferably with people who can do so without getting extremely angry). I've liked politics since I was a senior in high school (the first time I could vote) and in college I had a great political science professor who only made me enjoy politics more. For most of my politics-loving-life I have been a die-hard Republican. And that has been great fun, because for most of that time, I've also been SURROUNDED by die-hard Republicans. The religious right? Right here. When President Bush was running for office, I passionately wanted him to win both terms, I felt like God wanted him to win. I've always been a partisan voter. I thought that people who said they voted on the person and not on the party were full of it. And I wasn't just a Republican for the moral issues, I was for the policies too. I've always had this view of life: if you live in America, you have the same opportunities as anyone else. One person's situation may be more difficult than another's, but that is no excuse. If you want to be successful, just do it.

As much as I would like to see political issues in black & white (Republican and Democrat) terms, God has been leading me (as He has been in many areas of life) to see them in shades of gray.

At a basic level, I do still think that a person in America can accomplish anything they truly want to accomplish. However, my eyes have been opened, in profound ways, to how difficult the lives of other Americans can be. It has always been easy for me (from my healthy, middle class family) to see issues of poverty and crime in very simplistic terms. And in truth, I just really didn't want to think about those things. I knew they existed, but I just wanted to judge them (sometimes) harshly and focus on the pretty things in my life - my education, my entertainment, the people I cared about. It's easier to say that people on welfare are lazy and that the government is just helping to keep them that way. It's easier to say I've worked hard for what I've accomplished and that I DESERVE to keep every bit of it. Reality check? I can be very, very, very lazy. What would my life be like if I had been born to a crack-addicted-prostitute mother, living in extreme poverty, abused, and without a father? I don't know, but I do know I have a tendency to be lazy and I don't think I would be getting my Master's degree in a couple of months... I mean, I could be, but I think it would be monumentally more difficult for a person in that situation than it was for someone in my situation - two parents who adore me and all my needs (& usually wants for that matter) always met.

Many people's vote is based solely on their moral convictions. And my vote has always been strongly influenced by my moral convictions. It still is, to some degree. The most popular moral issues are abortion and homosexual marriage. I'm not exactly sure why those are the most popular, but they get a lot of lip service and some people base their vote ENTIRELY on one of these issues. I think abortion and homosexuality are wrong. But I don't think that making either one of them illegal will eradicate them from our society. Drugs are illegal. Did that stop that problem? (I'm NOT saying that I think drugs should be legal, I'm just saying we should think about what the effect of something like overturning Roe v. Wade would actually be). I believe that especially in the area of abortion, we need more education for people, not just the government acting like a parent and saying "NO!". People need to understand why abortion is not healthy physically or psychologically for the mother.

If you want to talk about moral issues - over 2,000 times in the Bible God talks about the importance of helping the poor (including the unemployed), the widow (including single mothers), and the foreigner. I recently heard a sermon that made me feel very convicted about this. I believe it is the church, the body of believers, that is supposed to be helping these groups of people. However, most believers in America are more worried about their building campaigns or increasing their attendance than they are about helping those in need. So, if the church isn't stepping up to help people (on a large scale), is it wrong for the government to? If you make over $250,000 a year, I know you may have worked hard for that money, but should you keep it all for yourself? or should you be giving it away to help others? Someone once said that to whom much has been given, much is expected.

Anyway, this discussion is in no way exhaustive. And I'm not saying I'm right about everything. If I wrote down everything I thought and everything I've discussed with other people, I could write an entire book! I just think people should think about this stuff. Just because McCain is against abortion...does that mean he's a good Christian man? Does that mean his policies are all God's will? Is the presidential election even supposed to be about choosing a Christian leader? Believers are supposed to be focused on building up God's Kingdom, which is not on this earth. We will never be able to rid this earth of sin. Choosing a president is supposed to be about what's best for this country. Are you really thinking about the candidates? Are you really reading about their policies and backgrounds? Or are you just listening to all the political spin? Are you just regurgitating what you've heard? I know what that's like because I've done it for a long time.

And let's not forget, the One True God is in control no matter who is elected. If in nothing else, we should find peace in that.

So...who do you think I'm voting for? :)

1 comment:

John said...

i have my fingers crossed.