I’m not anguished about what the results will be this Election Day. I’m prayerful, and feeling pretty good. My partner has been down at the grassroots Obama office in our community since before 7 this morning; I’m proud of him, and of the whole group of folks who have shown up over the past several months to work for the President’s re-election. Proud, too, of what a diverse group it is – people walking with canes and those just out of high school, people with fancy, nice houses and those of us in ramshackle rentals, people of different ethnicities, different sorts of families … it’s a cross-section of the United States that leaves me feeling proud and hopeful.
What’s giving me grief today is this — I have many family members and friends who I know have voted or will be voting the Republican ticket. Each day we mutually work to maintain our relationships, to recognize each other’s goodness despite our political differences. I believe very much in the right and importance of political diversity. So we “like” each other’s post on Facebook about the importance of voting, and ignore the one about the particular candidate.
But on Election Day, as I see the posts go up about “voting for the candidate who is proud to be an American,” or “I voted my biblical values,” it comes home to be very powerfully that we don’t differ merely on economic policy, or states’ rights. We are not separated by some different view of which road will lead to health, freedom, and pursuit of happiness for all. We differ on whether ALL of us deserve to have health, freedom, and pursuit of happiness.
It sinks in that most of my family and friends who have voted for Mitt Romney this year are motivated by the effects of deep-rooted racism in our country, that make many white people fidgety and uncomfortable with the idea of a person of color in power. (If you’re still arguing about our President’s citizenship, this means you.)
They voted Republican because they believe that some people are more worthy of success than others, and that their own success is some indication of their worthiness.
They voted Republican because they are pro-birth, but not pro-life.
Requiring a young, poor, rape victim to carry her pregnancy to term equals family values; providing support for this woman who had not been planning to have a child and thus had no resources ready to raise one equals becoming a welfare state.
It’s acceptable for people to be indentured to abusive job situations because their chronic health condition means they have to do anything to keep their health care. It’s ok for people who require regular medication to stay alive or to keep a child alive to live in fear of being laid off, or lacking federal regulations that will keep those medications safe.
How can we send young people to be maimed in wars and then require non-profits to support our disabled veterans because we don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer money? (The slogan of Wounded Warriors is “the biggest casualty is being forgotten.)
And how can you be pro-life while also supporting prejudice and fear that leads to painful stigmatization, bullying and suicide among young people who are queer or don’t fit into society’s narrow boxes of acceptable gender identity, expression, and desire?
I have a child who, even at the age of six, falls into this category. We don’t know what identities will resonate with him as he grows older, but we do know that the statistical odds weigh toward him being gay. How do I hold that possibility and also stay in relationship with people who tell me being gay is an abomination?
And most of these friends and family members voted Republican citing their Christian religious faith, leaving me completely flummoxed as to how any of these views have anything at all to do with Christ.
I don’t understand when “I’ve got mine, so screw you and yours” became the motto of our country. And that’s when I feel a fundamental rift in my ability to “reach across the aisle.” Because we’re not talking about policy, we’re talking about our fundamental view of the world.
Another election day post: Lessons in Fearmongering by Frank Bruni