Election Day Anguish

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

This entry was posted in Action, Holding Contradictions, Musings on the News, Religion and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Election Day Anguish

  1. Dennis Weidner says:

    Linking the Republicans to racism, the war on women, throwing granny off the cliff etc.is the politics of fear, showing how sterile Obama and his big government, socialist ideas are. Take a look at Europe to see where trillion dollar deficits led. they lead. The simple fact is that a bankrupt government can deal with any of the issues we face.You are not willing to honestly discuss real issues.

    These issues are complex, you can call Romney racists, but the simple fact is that abortionists have terminated more African American lives by a factor of 100 or more than than the KKK ever did.

    The answer to the problems we face is a strong, vibrant free market economy. And we will not get that under President Obama.

  2. Paul Robertson says:

    http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/spend.php provides an interesting set of data. The US spends more per capita on healthcare than anyone else in the world, yet is 27th in the table of life expectancy. You’re even behind us in the UK. Anyone claiming Christians can oppose measures to improve access to healthcare is ignoring Jesus’ own words (Matt 25:31-46). Anyone suggesting that Christians have a right to condemn the gender-creative, the homosexual, the ethnic minority, anyone different is also ignoring Jesus’ own words (Lk 6:37).

    Politics is complex, I accept that, and no single candidate, no single party can put together a policy mix that is acceptable to anyone, let alone everyone. Both parties in your election have positives and negatives, and it is up to you in the US to pick the candidate that most meets the needs of your nation. History suggests, however, that elections seldom produce that result (in any nation).

    The problem I see with democracy is that, no matter the party, you only ever get to vote for politicians (the other systems are worse, and you still get lumbered politicians).

    On the subject of trillion-dollar deficits: physician, heal thyself. Just take a quick look at the US national debt before you take any pot-shots at any other country on the planet. The only way your country can run with low taxes is by borrowing more and more and more every year. At some point, those lenders are going to want their money back.

    I pray that, whoever you elect, your next presidential term will be a good one for your country, and also for the rest of us in the world who are affected in so many ways by your country.

  3. Caleb says:

    I completely agree. Obama may not be the best economic leader, but on social issues (which, to me, is more important anyway) he beats Romney by a long shot. I really love this blog. I live in Texas and my dad is a baptist pastor so these views are terribly radical for people here and life just kind of sucks. But this site reminds me that people like you exist and that I’m not just an abnormality.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s