The Great Divide...
The cover of this week's Time magazine, last week's U.S. News and World Report, and the discussion topic at Pizza-Politics- and Prayer last week was of the idea of a polarized America. The theories are legion. Some say we are on the verge of civil war. Some say there is no real significant ideological divide in this country. And of course there's a million mediating views.
My belief is that deep down we are all closer than we think we are but have long ago picked teams and have planted our feet firmly in concrete in order to defend our team, logic and reason be damned. I could go on about how others do this, but this post is primarily an indictment of myself, not others. (Although I'll begin with an andectdote that is pointed at others.)
I was in the breakroom today and was horrified at the things I was reading, so I shared. Time magazine was telling some of the more vitriolic methods being used on the ground campaign for President. Republicans sent a flyer to Arkansas and West Virginia that read "If Kerry wins, the Bible will be banned and men will marry men." Democrats sent a flyer to Tennessee that had Bush looking like he was running in the Special Olympics that read "Voting for Bush is like running in the Special Olympics. Even if you win you are still retarded."
Lord, have mercy.
When I read the former to a left-leaning coworker this person's comment was "Yeah, like a devout Roman Catholic would ban the Bible." When I read the latter the comment (with a chuckle) was "That's kind of funny."
You see, this person has chosen sides and things that, under any other circumstances, would be funny to this person is not funny when directed toward this person's team. And things that, under any other circumstances, would be considered horribly offensive are kind of funny when directed to the other team.
Alright, now for the three fingers pointed back in my direction.
Under any normal circumstance I would be paralyzed at the thought of the amount of American (and Iraqi) casualties going on in Iraq right now. Under normal circumstances I would have serious concerns about choices this administration has made in environmental policy (nods and a thank you to Coleman and his girlfriend.) Under any other circumstances I would be critical of an administration that doesn't seem concern with a balanced budget.
But I have chosen sides and fear spoken dissension of any kind might sway others away from my team or, even worse, I might decide to change my mind.
Remember that thing our youth ministers read us about the Fellowship of the Unashamed and how we have made our decision, planted our feet, and won't turn back? That might be good when it comes to our commitment to being a follower of Christ but is a load of crap in any other circumstance because it closes the possibility of anything, no matter how true or logical or right, changing your direction.
Fear not my Republican friends, I'm still voting for Bush. I believe that I work hard for my money and should be able to keep as much of it as possible, as long as the government has enough for the military and provisions for those who absolutely cannot provide for themselves. I believe the abortion debate should be framed in terms of protecting life rather than protecting someone's right to make a horrible choice. I believe that a democratic Iraq could revolutionize the world and that U.S. military might can be used for good. I really do believe that John Kerry calculates his positions with the political winds in mind. I really do believe that he is a "Massachusetts Liberal." I don't disparage him for being what he is, but I do believe his core beliefs are out of touch with the common American citizen.
But if Bush is re-elected I want a reckoning to occur over the disaster in Iraq. I want a direction change. I know the administration can't speak in those terms now because the other team would use even an admission of mistakes (that they say should have occurred) as a reason for attack. I also know that regardless of what good Bush does for the environment and for civil rights, it will never be acknowledged by the environmental and minority groups (religious or otherwise.) But I want environmental and civil rights issues to be addressed.
Ronald Reagan was a great president because of what he did in his second term. Knowing he would never again have to win the support of the American people, he made tough decisions that may have been unpopular, but which were good for America. I trust Bush will do the same.
If Bush loses? I'm a Cowboy fan. I can handle being on a losing team with my eyes closed.