Thursday, January 26, 2012

Q & A: Wacky Politics

I have been asked a number of times about who I favor in the upcoming contest for President.  As a pastor, I cannot officially endorse for the church any candidate.  I can have and state a personal opinion, and do privately.  I must also admit that I am a recovering political junkie--I enjoy politics as a study and have strong opinions on these issues, but have come to see the futility of hoping that politics and politicians will bring real change.  So let me answer more generally with my opinion about the current state of the race.

Election seasons always have their unique frustrations, and this one is no exception.  For Democratic-leaning Christians, there is no real contest going on, only the challenge of supporting the President who has presided over a very bad four years economically ("It was Bush's and the Republicans' fault" will no doubt be a defense), and who supports abortion rights ("But he is compassionate toward the poor, and isn't that just as important? You can't look at a single issue!" will be the defense here).  I cannot and will not vote for a President who, for whatever reason, supports an absolute "right" to kill infants in the womb as a matter of choice.  I know some good Christians will argue that compassion for the suffering, poor, and dying should be of equal importance.  In my view, they are not, because such compassion is being measured in sliding terms.  We may not be giving enough aid to sufferers, but we are not giving others the freedom to kill them in one vicious act. 

Christians who lean Republican will mock their Democratic brothers and sisters, but this year they face some equally daunting challenges.  Look who is still in the race to be their nominee.

There is the polished businessman whose views have changed as his aspirations have grown.  He can't make the case for his own election as well as others seem to do.  Oh, and his faith, which he says is vital to who he is, is a cult whose views on salvation are objectionable to Christians, and whose views on early American history, multiple gods, celestial polygame, and spirit babies are, frankly, pretty weird.  He is highly moral, devoted to his wife, and says the right things, now.  Can he win?

There is the committed pro-life former senator who says he is the only true conservative in the race, but who spent 20 years in congress voting for spending and earmarks that conservatives decry now as wasteful.  He lost his last election badly (it was a Democratic sweep that year in his state).  He is a committed, traditional Roman Catholic.  He also does not excite lots of interest outside his base.  He lost the first contest on the night it was held, but now has been declared the winner--when it really doesn't change that much.  His numbers are fading, and no one seems to be paying attention to his excellent points.  Can he win?

There is the man who has finished second, then third, then fourth in contests so far, the "true conservative" who is a libertarian, who is pro-life but wants the states to deal with it, and wants all troops home until we are actually attacked.  He plans to cut a trillion dollars of spending in his first year in office, get out of health care, education, foreign aid, private behavior (legalizing marijuana, for example and ending any war on drugs), and protect traditional marriage.  His economics resonate with many.  But his "America First" foreign policy is a page out of pre-World War 2 isolationism, and could easily set the stage for another Germany or Japan to arise.  He says we will protect ourselves--but would we allow another Holocaust?  Can he win?

Finally there is the former Speaker of the House, who resigned in defeat and more than a little disgrace, has reinvented himself as a man of ideas, and is the best debater out there.  Strongly identified with conservative ideas, his personal life has been as tawdry as the other party's former president that seemed to set the modern standard for double standards.  His former co-workers do not support him, and recently he suggested that he would support colonization of the moon and once 13,000 people were there (the legal minimum apparently) they could petition to become a US state.  With ideas like that coming when you least expect them, and with his legendary ability to explode, can he win?

Do you vote for the man who is the most successful, the most consistently moral, the most radical, the smartest, or the one who can win?

I am eternally grateful to be a pastor and not a politician.  After all, I represent the one who offers change you can believe in!