Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday Rant--June 19, 2008

Today's Thursday Rant is political. Consider yourself warned.

It is common to hear people say "I could never vote for Candidate X; he/she scares me!" Why are so many people frightened by politicians? What do they mean by "scared"? And why is this usually only said about persons running for president? Are mayors less frightening?

I remember the first time I heard someone claim to be frightened by a candidate. It was in 1988 and a young co-worker of mine said she had to vote for Dukakis because "Bush scares me!" I asked her why she found Bush frightening and she muttered and mumbled about her father always voting Democrat and the unions being in favor of Dukakis and Bush being from a rich family.

The current presidential race has now been narrowed down to two, presumptively scary, candidates. People are afraid of Barack Obama because he has a scary middle name, he doesn't wear a flag pin, and the preacher at his former church is controversial. People are, on the other hand, afraid of John McCain because he is old, because he is too Republican, because he is not Republican enough, and because his wife is too thin and blond.

Reasons why you should not be afraid of political candidates:

1. God is in control and will raise up the rulers He wants us to have. He will use these men and women to do His will (Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.) God uses means, and in the case of elections the means he uses are the voters. But He is the one true Ruler and He is not frightened by any politician. He has commanded that we fear (respect) Him (I Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.)

2. No one politician in America has that much power. (Yeah, you thought the first point was the controversial one.) We may be stuck in a stupid war that should never have been fought because it was originally the president's idea. But he couldn't implement the idea all on his own, despite what a lot of the other politicians involved would really like you to think right now.

3. Personal characteristics (rich parents, middle names, skinny wives) aren't worth fearing. I don't think my husband has any plans to run for office, but it's just as well he doesn't. In addition to having a fat wife with increasingly gray hair (fat wives are even scarier than skinny ones) he also has a problematic middle name. It's the all-time favorite middle name given to little boys born into Catholic families. But it's also the first name of not only a Soviet dictator but, even worse, a Kennedy...and who knows how many other frightening people. The thing is, we all know that when someone say "he scares me because his middle name is Hussein" what they are really saying is something else entirely. Trying to mask one prejudice with another is hypocritical.

4. Fear implies a lack of options. In America we have the government we deserve. If the only options we have are scary candidates it is because we are a scary electorate. We are concerned, even frightened, about the wrong things. We vote for the lesser of two evils because we are scared to vote outside the two big parties. We don't vote in local elections because we are apathetic...the mayors we didn't vote for then go on to become the governors or senators we didn't vote for and then to become the presidential candidates we are afraid of. We pick our presidents because they are like us, and then wonder why they don't do any better job than we would.

5. There are good reasons to vote for some candidates and good reasons not to vote for others. We should be focusing on facts and real reasons for making decisions, instead of basing our voting decisions on fear.

So, can we please consider not being "scared" of the candidates? Can we start looking at issues instead? Or could we maybe just be honest and say "I'm not voting for Candidate X because I just don't like him."

Remember, kiddos, as Franklin D. Roosevelt once said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Speaking of scary presidents...what's with that middle name? "Delano"...sounds Eye-Talian!! And don't EVEN get me started on Eleanor...


Tom said...

I often hear similar comments or people fretting over what's going on in the political world. We would do well to remember Psalm 2:4 "He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them."

Courtney said...

well said (typed?) Beth!