Before the VP picks, I was not at all sure for whom I planned to vote. (And I'm still not.) And for as little as I've followed the conventions in the past, I did happen to catch Obama's speech in 2004. (Ah yes, I think I was nursing another baby at that time - Camille!) I recognized it as a historic moment (as did the rest of the nation) but could hardly have imagined that four short years later, he would actually be a presidential candidate. OK, so I'll out myself right here and say that I do like Obama. Perhaps I'm one of the naive fools captivated by empty rhetoric. Or maybe it's also true that I'm like a lot of other Americans who hope for change, and Obama, whether you consider him credible or not as a presidential candidate, is compelling when he speaks on this theme.
I also like McCain. He is a true patriot, in many ways an admirable example of what are unfortunately eroding American values. My generation (and those younger than I) don't necessarily connect with words like heroism, sacrifice, honor, patriotism, and John McCain could perhaps return us to these American ideals. What's more, his record stands tall in terms of real reform initiatives and effective bipartisan efforts. We need someone to heal the bipartisan gridlock in Washington, and McCain plays well to that need.
So here's why I'm stewing. . .I'm not a Palin fan. (Gasp!) Please don't misunderstand. I've seen the YouTube clip on her speaking to her church in Wasilla. I respect her personal faith. I've seen her approval rating in Alaska, and I can respect that she's a decent governor. But I absolutely do not think that she is qualified to be President of the United States.
Phrases that come to mind from articles I've read: it would be "reckless" to vote for this ticket because of Palin, she is "preposterously unprepared," etc. (My personal favorite is the piece by Maureen Dowd from the New York Times on October 5th). I'll grant you that most of my sources are centrist to liberal (NPR, PBS, New York Times, and a conservative one for fun - WSJ). But my opinion wasn't formed necessarily by the liberal media but by her own poor performances in the media interviews and the debate. This is a woman who I'll grant is likeable and politically talented (loved her convention speech) and yet extremely uninformed on the issues. We are facing a global economic crisis, the nuclear armament of rogue nations like Iran and North Korea, a war on terror that we've got to win. McCain, I think, can face these challenges; Palin cannot. And with John McCain 72 years and counting, I just don't know if I can vote in good faith for the Republican ticket.
I haven't even touched on the major policy issues. No, I do not agree with Obama's positions on abortion. (They are abhorrent.) No, I do not agree that we should set a timetable to get out of Iraq. No, I do not want to see liberal Supreme Court justices legislating from the bench. But I don't agree with everything Republicans stand for either: we need better policies on education (No Child Left Behind has been an abysmal failure.) We need better policies that help the poor. And I don't agree with McCain's health care proposals. That's not even to mention what needs to happen globally: we need a president who can restore global trust in America, who can exercise both hard and soft power for the defense of our nation.
There's not enough time to speak to all the issues. Nor would I claim to be informed on them all. But as a Christian, I suppose I plead for even-handed and fair debate. These emails that circulate, calling Obama a radical Muslim extremist, are intolerable. As Christians, we need to be the most judicious of anyone in what we say and how we say it. Many of the accusations leveled against Obama are tantamount to libel, and the fact that Christians circulate this kind of unfounded nonsense is reprehensible. (I'm getting off my soapbox. . .now.)
I keep hearing how "scary" this election is, and I agree that our nation and our world are facing enormous crises. I can also agree that this election will be a turning point, for better or for worse. But scared I am not.
I won't vote this election because I'm afraid. I'll vote because I believe it my civic privilege and responsibility, and I'll vote with the most faith that I can muster.