"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. " Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
Who should I vote for in November?
Does my vote really make a difference?
Which candidate/party is more Christian?
These are tough questions. Many think the answers are obvious. About 52% of those who think the answer is obvious believe it is the opposite of 48% who think the answer is obvious. This post is not intended to attack McCain or Obama--nor their running mates. It is also not intended to attack either party, although I think both parties and both presidential candidates have things they should be ashamed of. Actually, I guess if anyone is to have hurt feelings as a result of this post it will be the reader. Every reader and the writer. Because I believe we are the problem. Many of the arguments for or against each candidate are about issues the executive branch has little control over. There is a clear and ongoing shift of power to the legislative and judicial branches of government and the legislative branch holds increasing sway over who is added to the judicial branch. Is that a bad thing? The answer largely lies in the reasoning behind how we choose our representatives. Each district has an obvious incentive to choose the representative that will garner the most money for that district from the federal budget. There is not enough room here to address earmarking and other schemes to grab money for back home. Who is best at this game? Without naming names, those individuals who can stay in office longest and gain influence within a party are rewarded with appointments to committees that give them direct access to budgets or leverage to have others help them receive money for their districts. Meanwhile, the folks at home overlook ongoing deficits, scandals, and assorted goofiness as long as there is money for roads, bridges, museums, and jobs. It is a very selfish system and the most unwise selfishness is not portrayed by the politicians but rather by the voters.
So how do I answer the above questions?
First, let me say that I believe it DOES make a difference. Oh, my actual vote will probably not effect the outcome of the election. It is highly unlikely it would determine the winner even in Montgomery and that will almost certainly not have much effect on the national winner. But it matters because IF I vote, I have to think about (and hopefully have meaningful dialogue about) the candidates, the issues, the past, and the future. In my opinion, those discussions and that serious thought matter most of all. I am firmly convinced that is why we are even able to be in the position that a black (actually mixed race) man even has a chance to be elected by popular vote to be the president of the United States.
I think I will skip the discussion of the parties for now except to say that for nearly two decades the Republican party has SEEMED TO ME to be more aligned to my beliefs and ideologies than the Democratic party. There are lots of exceptions and some will probably feel the need to list them in comments. That is fine, I probably will agree. I am often disappointed by individuals in both parties.
So which guy?
If I were choosing a man to invite over for a cookout or to watch the game, it would be easy. Barack is charismatic. He is charming. He knows how to quickly determine the interests of others and is willing to talk about what is important to you. He would be lots of fun. I would be tired of the effort of talking to John in about 10 minutes. John McCain is far, far from the ideal I would like to vote for as president. But here is the thing; Barack Obama is intelligent, he is charismatic, his verbal skills make me more than a little jealous BUT even with all his ability and likability, he is still just wrong about many ideals and principles that are very, very important. He hasn't accomplished any of the things he is promising anywhere he has already been. The republicans are doing far, far too much taking from the producers and giving to the takers. And Barack Obama is going to grow that exponentially. Just today he so smoothly described taking up to $10,000 from your 401-k to cover current personal expenses. As he said it, it sounds so easy--so right--so inviting. Yet the principle behind that is the same as behind the bailouts and the "economic stimulus" ideas. That principle is "have what you want today and worry about paying for it....sometime later". Folks we are buying that idea and it is devastating to the economy and to our character. Where is the candidate that is saying "Let's do without some things today so we can be a little better off later--and our children will have a chance?"
Do you think this doesn't have real life meaning today? Check on conditions in Chicago and see what positive effects Obama is having where he has worked and represented. The problems are many, the corruption is rampant, but the most telling detail that fits this discussion is that the sales tax rate in Chicago is 10.25%. For local readers, our mayor is being attacked in TV ads as he runs for congress because we have the second highest tax rate in the country at 10%. Well, now you know where it is higher. Why is this a problem? Because for all the rhetoric about playing Robin Hood and taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the sales tax is the most regressive and most challenging for the poor. I say to Obama what I plan to say to Mayor Bright, if you can't fix it on a small scale at home don't ask me to send you to Washington to represent my interests.
Economics, social issues, Supreme court nominations, wars and negotiations--these are complex issues and I am a simple man. However, I am convinced that my battle is not against Obama nor McCain. It is against ideas and ideals that are presented and promoted by individuals but originated in an unseen world. Ideas and ideals that divide us. Ideals that lead us to think that the government should care for the hungry and homeless at the expense of my neighbor rather than each of us taking individual responsibility. Ideals that convince us to work less because moving to a higher tax bracket will cause us to net even less.
I can't imagine that after this life, the Creator of the universe will say to you or me "Well done, faithful servant, you did not visit me in jail or feed me when I was hungry or clothe me, but you voted for someone who forcibly took money from others to create an agency where I could be cared for."
So what do I expect? Barring any surprise developments in the next three weeks (and there will probably be some) the popular vote will likely be closer than the polls show. Still Obama will probably win the electoral vote by a comfortable margin. I am glad we are not in one of the swing states that will be watching THIRTY MINUTE campaign ads until the election. What will happen after the election? Of course, only God knows. But mostly for the average person. little will change for a while other that the conversations at the "water cooler". Again, in my opinion, those conversations are probably more important than which man is in the White House.
If you read this far, thanks. I will get back to silly posts soon.