Thursday, November 01, 2012

Election Fears and the 2012 Vote

I haven't written much about politics on this blog.  There are only 14 posts labeled "politics" since I started blogging in 2005, and several of those are really not all that political.  A couple, I confess, are rants and are labeled as such. 

I have many friends, and family too, from both right and left and political center.  My conservative friends, if I tell them my opinion, think I'm too liberal.  My liberal friends probably think I'm too conservative.  I also know that nothing I say will likely change anyones point of view.  And maybe I'm getting old.  Okay, I am.  There is perspective that comes with that.  I remember how afraid my father was when Kennedy, the first Catholic president, was elected.  I know he envisioned a direct phone line from the Oval Office to the Vatican and a country directed by the pope.  I remember the fear of a couple of my dad's Baptist deacon friends that Secretary of State Kissinger was the Anti-Christ.  I remember how some of my friends thought Clinton was going to usher in a Golden Age in America. goes on!

Facebook has been hijacked for months.  Ditto my email inbox.  Yesterday's mail had ten poliitical ads.  We got about six political phone calls.  As for the political ads on radio and television, I deplore them, and I believe none of them.  I know, from having been a victim of this, that you can use a sound bite taken out of context to make a person say anything, even things the exact opposite of their real position. (I don't believe Tommy Thompson ever said he would abolish Medicare and Medicaid.  I'd like to hear the whole paragraph.  I also don't believe Tammy Baldwin hates the middle-class.  I'd like to hear the whole paragraph.) 

And when it comes to numbers, be suspicious.  Remember Mark Twain's quote?  Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."  Mark Twain's Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review

If the only place you get your information is from TV political ads, I almost want to tell you not to bother to vote.  Since when did we Americans get so naive?

I am dismayed by the atmosphere this election.  I've never seen anything like it in my lifetime.  All of that doesn't mean that I don't care about politics.  I care, often passionately.  I love my country, and I try to vote every single time I have that option, even during primaries. Back when I was less cynical I stood on a sidewalk and passed out fliers and wore a button with my guy's name.  I was a member of The Young Republicans back in my college days.  I loved my high school civics class and my freshman political science class in college.  Once, in what seems a lifetime ago, I considered running for a local office. I actually (okay, sometimes) read the party platforms.  I have links on my computer to fact-finding sites, to Snopes, and so on.  I try to be deligient about not passing on things unless I check them out first. 

As anyone who has spent any time here knows, I am a clergywoman.  For that reason, if no other, I don't put up yard signs or write or say much about candidates.  I don't think it is appropriate for pastors to do so, even though I always encouraged people to vote their values.  I know, many of my clergy friends, both Republican and Democrat, would disagree. (Not about the values, about the yard signs.) I also didn't like putting an American flag on the church platform.  Just how I roll, okay? 

So why am I writing this now?  I am in a late-working-life career so that I can, as my husband says, "support your ministry habit."  In addition to being a minister I am an insurance agent who focuses on Medicare-related plans.  It is Medicare's annual open enrollment, so I am busy.  I've been having conversations with senior citizens.  And I am appalled and dismayed and sad that our elders are living in such fear.

The fear in this country, at least where I am, is astonishing.  It probably doesn't help that Wisconsin is a "battleground state," but in the last two weeks I have talked to several senior citizens who are nearly in a panic.  One elderly man needs to make changes to his insurance but refuses to do so until after the election.  I'm not sure if he is a Republican or a Democrat, nor whether he is for or against the Health Care Reform Act (Obmacare) but he really seems to think that things will happen right after the president is sworn in. 

Today a woman told me that Obama is going to "abolish the military completely and invite terrorists right into this country."  Another believes that if Romney is elected Medicare and Medicaid will vanish and  there will be no safety net whatsoever for low-income people---that it will all just POOF--evaporate in 2013! 

I want to remind you of some things.
  • We have checks and balances in this country.  There are THREE branches of government. They are called executive, legislative and judicial.  Sometimes this makes things very slow, but all of the power does not lie in one place. 
  • No matter who wins, he will NOT accomplish all he says he will. 
  • If you think either candidate is going to be a dictator, you need to spend some time in other countries.
  • God is not a Republican.  Nor a Democrat.
  • Americans are fiesty.  Sadly, we also have short memories. 
I think I'll stop and copy part of a post from Election Day 2008.  I'll delete the stuff that was specific to Biden, McCain, Palin and Obama and put in ellipses instead... 

I'm about to head over to the local police department, which doubles as a place to cast a ballot. I intend to rejoice. We Americans are exercising our right to vote, and we should be smiling about that, shaking hands, laughing. No one is going to intimidate me as I approach the booth. No one will be guarding the door with a gun.

To my conservative friends, on the unlikely possibility that you will read this, don't be afraid... (long paragraph about Obama and Biden deleted)

To my liberal friends, don't despair... (paragraph about McCain and Palin deleted)

God is still on the throne.

It's an election. Rhetoric gets a bit over-the-top.  Lies and distortions are told on both sides. Promises made will be impossible to keep. The advertisements will end....

Smile! WE LIVE IN A WONDERFUL COUNTRY!  We are the envy of many!  And let's go vote. And let's stop the name-calling, and the insane emails, and the fear mongering, and the hand-wringing despair.

God of All, please help us to remember that we are strangers and aliens in a world that is broken. Help us to remember that our true home is with you, and until the day we are in your holy presence there will always be a sense of lack and incompleteness. Grant that the sense of lack will not make us apathetic but instead will encourage us to pray and to work and to seek that Your will shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven. I pray that people of faith will stand together, pray together, worship together and link arms when we can. I pray for the Church of Jesus Christ to shine in these days when many are uncertain and afraid. Bless whoever is elected to be our president with wisdom and courage and insight. Draw him to yourself in whatever way needs to be. Protect him, and strengthen him for the difficult days that will be ahead. May your will be done. Amen

I'm not a happy citizen right now.  I know that America needs to change in some profound ways.  I have plenty of deep concerns about the future.  I am, sometimes, afraid.  And then I remember who I really am.