Saturday, July 5, 2008

Are you wit' us, or agin' us?

In light of yesterday’s post on single-issue voting, I’ll offer this post that re-covers the ideas that started it, plus the counter-points to those ideas.

I’m not throwing my support behind either candidate– and I don’t care to share who I’m voting for. I think there’s a good case to be made for a conservative on both sides, and I understand the “I’m socio-politically conservative and I’m voting for Obama” side completely.

Here’s the gist of that argument:
  1. Single-issue voting is wrong and unbiblical.
  2. Even if it were not, we’ve been told that “the next president will end legalized abortion through judicial appointments” since the 80s– has it happened yet?
  3. If that’s not reason enough to be skeptical, there is arguable evidence that abortion actually was reduced more under Clinton than Bush– so why is the default assumption that a Republican president will be better for the pro-life position? (Oh yeah: because the whole argument goes, the distant possibility of total elimination of legalized abortions is more important than the more likely possibility of reduction of legalized abortions.)
  4. A vote for McCain is a guarantee for continued waging of war that is unjust and has little possibility of ending soon or with effective outcome. A vote for Obama is at least a solid chance of ending that much sooner.
  5. The grim predictions of all who oppose Obama is that he is an extreme liberal who will be the enemy of people of faith. The last time we heard this was, of course, when President Bill Clinton was elected. But really, Clinton didn’t end up being that bad, and it is hard to argue that the U.S. suffered or got worse under his presidency. Why should we believe it this time around?
  6. Isn’t it natural to want to believe that all of the talk of change, a new tone, and truly productive political process is true? Even the most cynical among us must surely WANT it to be true.
So there is my take on the case for Obama from a conservative’s perspective. Now, here’s the argument for the other side: why should a Christian/conservative/moderate (or even liberal) vote for John McCain?
  1. Single-issue voting is wrong and unbiblical. (And just as many conservatives oppose Obama because of his position on abortion, many others oppose McCain because of his position on the Iraq War.)
  2. Even if it were not, the Iraq War is a commitment we have made as a nation-- good or ill-- and we ought to take that commitment seriously enough to see it through to completion. Yes, we’ve been involved in it for over five years; we were in Vietnam for 16 years, and our failure there was largely due to growing apathy and opposition toward the later stages, even when some evidence of success had shown up. The recent reports of the positive effects of the “surge” ought to be enough to at least slow down the urgency to pull out as soon as possible. So the next president will at least need to be open-minded to the matters at hand, and not dogmatically committed to immediate withdrawal. We may not “win” this war, but we can certainly finish well.
  3. McCain, though fairly moderate on many issues, has a solid record of “pro-life” support and congressional/senatorial voting. So if we ARE inclined toward the single-issue agenda that consumes so many Christians, he’s your guy!
  4. A vote for McCain may actually be a pretty good balance of conservative and moderate positions, appealing more to many of the younger generation of folks who don’t identify purely with a right-wing, conservative agenda.
  5. While McCain has, at best, been very tight-lipped about his personal beliefs and faith (to my knowledge he’s never gone on record stating that he considers himself a Christian or any other belief), he HAS shown himself to be friendly to Christians and other people of faith.
  6. McCain’s lack of Obama-like charisma doesn’t alter the fact that he speaks boldly of change as well; plus, his years of political and military experience bolster his claims of being able to be the leader we need to get true bi-partisan change effected.
That said, there are reasons why many believers may not wish to vote for EITHER of them! Whether it encourages you to a write-in (Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee are two names I often hear about as write-ins) or to go the “none of the above” route, here are a few more thoughts on the two presumptive candidates:
  • Neither candidate is a distinctively Christian candidate; Obama, who has openly discussed his faith, recently resigned his membership from a congregation that espouses Black Liberation Theology in a denomination that is probably the most theologically liberal denomination that still considers itself to be “Christian;” now he is, I presume, an unchurched theological liberal. McCain, as I mentioned, has NO open declaration of faith or belief on record, and when asked by Christians about his faith instead refers to the inspiration he has found in the faith of others. This may not be a deal-breaker for everyone-- I would rather see the “best” man in place than an adequate Christian-- but it’s probably a factor for most Christians.
  • Both candidates talk a LOT about change-- which may be good-- but have yet to really spell out what said change would really mean, at least in a way that has gotten through to the general audiences. In other words, nothing like the “lock box” of 2000 has really emerged. Time will tell; in the historic scheme of elections, it is very early (even though it seems like it has been going on forever already, and we still have six months left).
  • While so much talk about change is bantered about, we’ve still got a growing economic crisis and an over-dependence on petroleum. We know what they’ll do about the Iraq War and the military action in Afghanistan, but what will they do about the economy? How will they solve our oil dependence problem? We’ve heard the soundbite niceties that represent, at best, short-term relief; I’m not sure if either candidate has a solid plan (or even an idea) about how they will lead the nation to true solutions over the long-term.
  • Almost everyone I know seems fairly dis-satisfied with our candidate selection. Apart from those who have really been wowed by Obama’s style and charisma, most people I’ve talked to feel like both candidates represent something of a blasé option.
There it is: my assessment of the presidential race as it stands today. I hope this is, at least, food for thought.

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