Between caravans stopping traffic on I-75, my mailbox full of brightly colored flyers and phone call after phone call after phone call, JJ reminded me why all the hubbub: I am the target of these 2 campaigns.
It’s voting day and I still don’t know which ballot I’ll cast. I’m being completely honest. I have no. freaking. idea. It’s kept me up from 5am.
I wouldn’t count myself as an uninformed voter, or even an apathetic one. I do care; I’ve watched debates, read my Time magazine, and had fruitful discussions with family and friends. I can talk, at least a little, to most of the points of debate (except foreign policy, but my general view is a bit simplistic anyway. I think that when Jesus said, “love your enemy” he meant “don’t bomb them.”) So it’s not as if I don’t know or don’t care. It’s that I don’t see solutions in the rhetoric.
On the one hand, I tend to be a bit more liberal than my Christian counterparts on social issues – or at least, I’ve come to land there politically, even if my moral roots are planted more conservatively. I actually do differentiate my political and my moral beliefs about the big “hot topics” because I’m not sure that simply because I believe one way that all people should, let alone do, agree. My government is not my pastor, so if it wants to get rid of a maximum – or minimum – number of penises allowed in a loving, committed relationship, then the rights of others take precedent because my own haven’t been abridged. My government is also not my doctor, so I don’t believe it should be making decisions that could, essentially, force me to give birth. I’ve given birth a few times. I find it appalling that we want to force it on people, even when another option is heinous. There simply are no winners in that conversation, so perhaps we we should go about seeking out numerous ways to keep this from happening, other than simply making a law. Just an idea from an idealist.
That being said, I’m not sure these are the issues upon which I should base my vote. Social issues are important, and the direction our government moves us will greatly influence our action. However, it’s not the sole focus of the government. So it can’t be the sole focus of my vote.
But on the other side, I believe in small government. I believe in the power of local, including local economies, local governments and local people. This seems to be a very republican approach, and I dig it. I was a Ron Paul “power to the States” gal. I do believe that if Romney were to sweep, one of the ways in which he’d bring some balance is to eliminate the thick middle – because that’s what corporations do to trim down, and he’s a corporate thinker. I like the trimming. I have yet to interact with a state-run entity that offers a clean, efficient approach. (Strong anti-union gal here… they served a purpose for a time, and could again, but currently?….) And in the top ten of my pet peeves is blatant wastes of my time. Yet, I’ve worked for larger organizations. Inefficiencies still exist no matter how many people get fired; so, I don’t have my hopes too high.
So while I think Romney will do economic work in the direction of my favor, I don’t believe he approaches the office with a love and desire to serve the American people. I see him as a man who wants to run a successful business. But people aren’t corporations and profitability cannot be our only guiding principle. I worked for a company that, for a time, was profitable but miserable. I don’t want the same for our country. To make it clear, I’m not sure Obama has much of a lead on this.
I’ve narrowed it down to an imperfect system offering imperfect candidates with imperfect solutions to clean up an imperfect society. We need strong leadership, we really do. But neither candidate – or party – will do the work of creating a nation that is compassionate for one another or reciprocates blessing in a way that grows the greater good.
Only I can do that. Or you. Or my neighborhood. Or my school. Or my church. Or my small group. Or my Co-op. My president can set an example, give a motivating speech and create a few tax breaks as incentive. But only the goodness in the common citizen will really bring about change. We want a government that will fix our problems with minimal work on our part; but that doesn’t exist. If we want our country to be different, we as a people need to do something different.
My friend Bob, who might get a write-in today, put on his FB after a presidential debate: News flash America: a new president (or the existing one) isn’t going to save us. Turn off your television. Volunteer in your community. Have a meal with your neighbors. Reconcile a broken relationship.. Etc..
He’s right. I think of the ways people I know really are trying to change the world. My friend Angela fights abortion with the ways in which she promotes, encourages, empowers and supports adoption and it changed the life of the little boy down her hallway. My new friends here in Troy spend money and energy to make local goods available easily and support the good work of farmers who love producing healthy options for the community. My friend Allison believes that we should be able to purchase products for our kids and family that are healthy and free of harmful chemicals and spends precious hours away from her own kids providing them down the street. My friend Lindsay devotes herself to changing the relational atmosphere of numerous small kids in the area through mentoring and positive relationships.
They’re all passionately behind their (opposing) candidate; but no matter who wins this evening (or after the recount), they’ll keep on doing the work. Because they believe in something much bigger than a man in an oval office.
I told JJ I was struggling with my voting decision; he asked if I’d prayed about it. As I turned to scripture, I came upon several parables Jesus told about planting seed. One of them said, “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Jesus said this is what the kingdom of God is like. We don’t know how, but it grows among us. It can – and will – among any political landscape. (Truthfully, it was born amid one of the most oppressive, so surely we can’t worry too much).
So, I’ll spend my few moments – hopefully no more than an hour? – at the polls. But then I must get back to the field. Because that’s where my work is rooted. My hope is that each of us, no matter if our man is declared the winner, will do even a little bit more to become the society that we dream it could be. Not just by voting, but by living out our values with and for one another.