Saturday, August 30, 2008

Confessions of a Political Skeptic

I have a Facebook page. I know. I know. It's a bit juvenile to have one at my age, but I enjoy keeping up with old friends from high school and college on it. In order to set up your Facebook page, you have to create a personal profile, and one of the things that you're asked to do is summarize your political views in one word. They give you several options like conservative, liberal, moderate, and so on. I was really struggling with what to choose until I saw the one word that best summarizes my political views: skeptic. And that's what I chose.

Why am I such a skeptic? I'm not sure, but I do know that the current presidential race is only serving to feed my skepticism of the American political system. Michelle and I watched some of the Democratic National Convention this past week, and I felt several times like I was going to puke. And just to be fair, I'll watch the Republican National Convention next week with a barf bag in hand. It's the posturing, positioning, and promising that I can't handle. The sophisticated term for this is rhetoric, and it really turns me off.

The dictionary defines rhetoric as the undue use of exaggeration or display; to bombast. And this is exactly what we are being fed in large doses as the November election approaches. I nauseatingly listened to Barack Obama and Joe Biden make promises I know they can't keep and say things that I know are not true.

For instance, I love how Obama tells stories like the one about the "single mom from Michigan I talked to last week who has been laid off from her automotive job and now can't afford college for her daughter." He says that this is the fault of the Bush administration because George W. doesn't care, but he - Barack O. - does. And if he's elected president, because he cares a whole lot more for this woman that George W. does, he'll make sure things like this will never happen again to anyone. Cut to camera 2 and pan the row where all the Obama-lovers are weeping and cheering at the same time. Yuk!

Then there's Joe Biden unabashedly blaming the deaths of 1,800 people in New Orleans back in 2005 NOT on the natural disaster known as Katrina, but on the commander-in-chief known as Bush. No kidding. He stood before 80,000 people in Denver - and millions of viewers all across the world - and with no shame at all, blamed Hurricane Katrina on President Bush. Cut to camera 3 and zoom in on Hillary clapping firmly and nodding her head in agreement.

Is it any wonder that I - and millions of other Gen Xers just like me - think our political process (that our forefathers bravely risked it all to establish) has turned into a joke? Is it any wonder that millions of Americans won't even vote this November because they don't know who in the world to even believe? Is it any wonder that more and more people are choosing the word skeptic to describe their political views on Facebook?

I know that this is not a popular position to hold as a conservative Christian...much less a pastor of a conservative baptist church, but it's just where I'm at (and where I've been for a long time.) And just to ease some of your concern (godly as it may be), I will vote this November, and I might even wear the "I Voted" sticker on my shirt that day as well. However, I'm not sure who I'll vote for.

A couple of nights ago, Michelle and I caught John McCain on The Tonight Show. He was quite funny and quite quick for a fossil. We quite enjoyed Jay's interview with him, and I actually got kinda excited about the prospect of possibly voting for him. However, he'll get his chance to spew forth his rhetoric this week at the Republican National Convention, and I'll be watching. If he blames Barack Obama for global warming and Hurricane Gustav, I think I'll pack up the family and move to China. I hear deciding who to vote for there is much easier.


chadman said...

We have the government we deserve and always will. We vote for it. The only reason we fall for rhetoric is because way too many people believe they are owed something. If the majority of people truly wanted to do things for themselves without any government "help" or intervention, the liars,boasters, spenders and tax hikers would be out of business. The minute a candidate started running down his/her laundry list of things they would do for us, we would click them off. The majority of people, Republican or Democrat, feel they deserve some level of handout. When that exisits the politician has the power. Other than protecting me from enemies, both foreign and domestic, I don't want the federal government doing anything for me.

Another thought: the church as a whole should get completely out of the campaigning and political agenda business. Yes, Christians and Catholics can have great influence on the process of who wins and loses. My frustration is way too much time is spent trying to overturn old laws or pass new ones and the hearts of people are ignored. We can have the exact laws we always wanted and it won't change one single heart for Christ. My suggestion church - stop wasting time energy and resources on the black hole of politics and spend it wisely where it counts: on people.

Darcy said...

I am someone who unabashedly loves politics, policy and political history (even when it's not an election year) and follows it closely - both sides of the aisle - so to speak. I think politics is great fun. And democracy in politics is pretty good way to settle differences. It's worked for a quite a while.

Sure, I get skeptical too. And frustrated. I holler at the TV during the conventions. I blog relentlessly on the morons (and the good folks) in politics. I admit it - I am a junkie. But, every once in a while, someone in office or policy, inspires me. And I get excited about that. Like Sarah Palin. She is exciting stuff!

There is nothing wrong with being skeptical. I think it's healthy. But...careful because you don't want your skepticism to turn into apathy. Apathy leads to just dropping out and not participating at all. (My brother is prime example of that).

[Stepping down off my soap box before I fall off and injure myself]

chadman said...

I suppose it would be better said that I am a politial cynic; not a skeptic. I agree Sarah Palin is an inspiring choice (and she's a babe). But she is in a "do nothing" position. She's only there to help McCain get elected. She has some wonderful ideas, but even if she was president it wouldn't matter. Washington is set up so it is impossible to get anything done outside of spending our money on programs no one needs. I vote in every local and national election. But I do it with one hand on my wallet and the understanding that there will be no significant positive change.

How's that for cyinicism!

Evonne said...

I agree with Chadman. We have the government we deserve. I am asking God for mercy because I believe that, as a nation, we deserve Obama and the attending consequences. I will vote and I am reservedly enthusiastic with the choice of Sarah Palin. There was a time, after 9/11, when one of the "controversies" at FH ensued around flying the flag over the church. American Christians sometimes confuse the flag and the Cross. I love my country and its people, and I want the best for her. I fear that may entail God's judgment. So, I am praying for mercy. I am sad when I read the evangelical blogs concerning Bristol Palin and her pregnancy. So much judgment concerning Mr.and Mrs. Palin's parenting, with so little knowledge! So little grace! A woman's priority is her home, not necessarily her place at all times. It is not just feminism that is being confronted with the weakness of its arguments in the form of Sarah Palin. The church may need to distinguish between where our arguments and beliefs are rooted in traditionalism and genuine biblical Christianity.

John said...

As a registered Republican, I had to tell a Republican pollster that I had no intention of voting for McCain. I have since realized I cannot shun my responsibility to vote and am somewhat encouraged by Sara Palin. I can only pray that God will work through whomever is elected. He is the one who empowers them. I will be obedient to vote trusting that He is on the throne.

Chilton said...

Politics is nasty business and everyone knows that. However skeptical we may be, we cannot give up on the freedom we have to vote. Children have nasty diapers; should we avoid having them because they get dirty? I have been on many short term mission trips to the U.S.S.R and the C.I.S and I can tell you the people I met wished they had a voice to vote when the communists controlled things.
The socialism that Obama offers is not for me and should be feared. Christ is building His church and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it, but if America goes socialist or communist we may be having church in your house and my house...and that under the cover of darkness...ask the Chinese about it. Our politicians cannot save us. Only Jesus Christ can do that; but a bad president and congress can do us real harm.

Anonymous said...

You guys have a lot to learn about politics Obama is a savior and will turn this country around Bush should get someone to help him speak better look at the economy look at everything and a war we are in you call this good politics may be a dirty word but Obama is a savior and besides he is a good person it shows because Moral issues like abortion are all fine and good but what about us the people I would rather have abortion than be out of business or on the street because of rich Bush in office thank god for Obama