Both Myles and Keith have recently posted very interesting entries regarding a Christian's role in politics. Check them out.
And somewhat related, here's what's been on my mind...
I've been alive for eight presidential cycles. Growing up in a very political family, I can remember six sets of political conventions, and vividly remember five of them. Each one mesmerizes me more than the previous. Sure they have become much more scripted and predictable. (Back in '88 Dan Quayle hadn't even been selected as the veep nominee until a day of the Republican convention had already passed.) But the excitement and speeches and hats and buttons still make me happy.
And a little upset.
The purpose of each party's convention is severalfold. But one fold is this-- Make the other party look either a.) Stupid, b.) Inept, c.) Dangerous, d.) Sinister, e.) Misinformed or f.) any combination of the above.
Which is fine if I were an undecided voter, but I'm not. Aligning with a political party makes the attacks a little more personal. I'm a Republican. My parents modeled loyalty to me. So I'm loyal. They modeled being a Democrat to me, so I'm a Republican. (I reacted then converted at the age of 20. I was baptized in the Republican Revolution of 1994. Hallelujah, Amen.) You could say I blindly follow a candidate based on the letter in front of their name on the ballot, but you'd be misinformed. I've aligned myself with quite a few of the values behind a letter on the ballot, and tend to vote for the candidate who also aligns themself behind that particular letter.
And so I watched the Democratic convention with interest. And, for the first time ever, I watched it with open eyes. I wasn't interested in finding flaws or inconsistencies. I was really interested in the people talking. I was fascinated, if not a little put off, by Al Sharpton's speech. I marveled at the articulateness and passion of Baruch Obama. I resonated with John Edwards. I worked while Kerry spoke.
But the whole week the convention, coupled with Michael Moore mania in Waco, made me feel something that I just pinpointed last night-- cornered. It was almost as if the whole world in unison turned their heads in my direction, looked at me in disgust, and said "How could you support this president? How can you call yourself a thinking Christian and align yourself with this stupid (or inept, dangerous, sinister, misinformed) man? Don't you know how bad this man is for the poor? Don't you know how bad this man is for the environment? Dont' you know how bad this man is for the world? Look at yourself, you pitiful, mindless person."
And my knee jerk reaction is to be angry and respond in kind, calling the Dems the worst cussword in Waco, TX-- Liberals. I want to bring up Clinton's moral failures and talk about Kerry's "I voted for the 87 billion before I voted against it" comment and Edwards being a trial lawyer. But I don't. I remain silent.
Mostly, though, I just want to ask questions. I want people to tell me the credible primary sources they have read and researched that tell them that the Democrats are better for the environment and for the poor and for the world. I want to see evidence that between 1992 and 2000 the skies and rivers were clean and suddenly in January of '01 the smog appeared and fish started dying. I want to see evidence that the economic difficulties of the past few years are a result of Bush's policies and not Clinton's. I want evidence that the thousands dying in an Iraq struggling for freedom and human rights is somehow a more evil (or stupid or inept or sinister or dangerous) situation than thousands dying in an Iraq under the repressive rule of an evil dictator.
But I don't push the issue.
You want to know why?
Because everyone has an answer. Everyone has read something or seen something or heard something that supports their beliefs. Everyone is, or has, an authoritative and empirical source.
So here's what I'll do. I'll vote for Bush. You vote for who you'll vote for. I won't call you names, you don't call me names. Our candidates and their surrogates will do enough of that for all of us.
And perhaps the answer to the Christian in Politics dilemma is this: If your a Democrat, be a Democrat. If your a Republican, be a Republican. If you're something else, be something else. As Christians we should have the same ends in sight. Ends that we work for regardless of how much we disagree on who should occupy the house on Pennsylvania Avenue.