Sunday, October 12, 2008


For the past several weeks, I've been stewing about politics. I've been fairly invested in the political scene since the primaries. What else did I have to do in those winter months when I was either pregnant with twins (and spending lots of time on the couch) or nursing twins (and spending lots of time on the couch). For months, our kids thought Jim Lehrer, PBS news anchor, was a presidential candidate. 

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.


Carolyn said...

So interesting, Jen. I feel like I'm coming in a little late to learning about some things because I know who I'll vote for and don't often talk politics as I fear I'll offend someone and/or lose opportunity to give the gospel. But some of my high school graduating class members have been discussing it on a private facebook page and it's sparked my interest these last couple of weeks. I do see that Obama is a charismatic figure, but I'm not sure what he believes -- it looks like he's voted only present most of his short career. And though Sarah Palin doesn't come off as too articulate in the way Obama does, she may have more practical experience and with good advisors, she may develop. And if I have to see someone develop, I'd rather it be at the VP role than the Pres. role. I am concerned that Obama does not say the pledge or put his hand over his heart and by his spiritual mentor -- some of these things you just can't spin. So I don't want to ignore what's pretty clear. And I've been bothered by children singing hymn-like choruses about Obama that do seem to make him out to be a savior. It's sad to see anyone placing their hope in anything other than Christ. Obama may be an agent for change, but I don't think it's the change we'll want. I do like what you wrote because it gives me some better understanding into what people are thinking. At the end of the day, we know where Illinois will land, right?

Bridgett said...

I agree that Obama and being a radical Muslim comments are stupid. However, I believe this is all a way of averting people from the truth. I am blown away that the media has treated Obama with kid gloves regarding some very serious issues, like who he chooses to have as associates.

Here's a great column on the topic:

I agree Obama is a great orator, and that this country desperately needs hope. However, given the fact that Obama says one thing, and then does another, his words ring hallow for me. What do you call a person who's actions do not match his words, no matter how powerful and eloquent those words are?

Being a resident of Cook County, with a budget bigger than some entire states, I simply cannot ignore the fact that Obama endorsed a completely inept and corrupt person as President--Todd Stroger. The way Todd decided to balance the budget? Not by getting rid of the corruption, like his dad, the president before him, was a part of. No, instead, our sales tax was raised by 2 percentage points. Shop in Chicago and pay a whopping 11% sales tax. You think that's going to bring more or less business in to the City?

Obama is a politician, cunning as they come. He knew exactly what he was doing when he endorsed Stroger.

IF I vote for Obama, it will only be because of Biden--another example of Obama's cunning, choosing Biden as his running mate.

Jeremy Pryor said...

There's no question Palin was a political and not a presidential choice and casting a ballot for a 72 year-old McCain is somewhat frightening considering the state we're in that you well describe.

I also don't think people properly understand that electing a committed liberal like Obama at a time of financial crisis will likely give him and a heavily democratic congress a mandate to totally reform government through expanding it like no time in history since FDR. I like Obama too but I'm equally concerned with the radical philosophy both social and economic he will no doubt implement when elected President.

We're in for a wild ride.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we must all vote after much prayer and petition. Thank you for your thoughtful post. This has been my humble thought: we all want to get out of Iraq; the question is how. We all want a good economy; the question is how. I don't see these as sin issues. While I realize this discussion is circa 1985 and I'm not naive enough to think the president can singlehandedly change everything, my "voting issue" is abortion. It is a sin issue, an issue that either mocks God and His laws or honors God and His laws. Sure, I'm concerned about my pocketbook--but through prayer God has led me personally (and of course we're all led differently) to vote the moral issues, because my heart is grateful for His amazing grace, and out of that thankfulness, I strive, however imperfectly, to honor His commands. :-) Jorie PS: Yes, now you can laugh at my lack of political prowess.