It’s everywhere you look: Facebook…television…the radio…even on your phone’s caller ID. The fight for the position of United States President is in full swing.
Here’s what I’m struggling with more than ever this year—You know those Facebook comments, status updates, and fan pages that ask everyone to “like” this and “like” that? Most now, revolve around Obama or Romney. Well, I don’t like either of them! It’s as if we’re being forced to vote for which the candidate who is the least bad.
Women’s rights regarding abortion and religion seem to be two of the hot button topics at the moment (history repeats itself often, it seems). Political issues, and how someone feels about them, are always placed in neat little boxes labeled “Republican” or “Democrat”. Here’s the second thing I struggle with—I don’t want to label myself, or be labeled, as either. It’s more and more evident that many other Americans feel the same way, especially the younger generation. You can see it when you look at individual Facebook pages under the category “political views”. Instead of listing themselves as a republican or democrat, many people have things written like, “Can we find someone competent?” or “One day we’ll find someone who knows what they’re doing, won’t we?”
The fact that we are entering third world countries and trying to “teach” them how to be democratic societies is both comical and frustrating. What we really need to do is examine our own government. I’m not saying I don’t want to live in a democracy—I do. I don’t want a queen or a dictator. But I think we’ve outgrown what some of our founding fathers set in motion so many years ago.
I shouldn’t have to be against abortion if I’m a Republican, nor should I have to be pro-life as a Democrat. Are Republicans really better Catholics or Christians? Are Democrats really about “the people”, and Republicans about big companies? Here are just some abbreviated examples of what I’m referring to…
Religious-spouting Republicans scream for the right to carry guns. Isn’t that sort of an oxymoron? Take the “oxy” away and you are left with a word that accurately describes most of our politicians in general (not all, but many). If you grew up going to church (or even if you didn’t), and you’re honest, I think you’ll agree that “shoot ‘em up” and Jesus Christ don’t really mix that well.
Now, take the Democrats: They claim to be all about the people, and therefore they support unions. Before I go on, let me say that when unions were formed they were absolutely necessary. But our work environment has come a long way from the early 1900’s, when women were jumping from a burning building in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. For the most part, the one thing unions set out to do, more than anything else today, is to put money in their own pockets (regardless of what they tell the rest of the world). And what d’ya know—unions are one of the largest funding sources of the Democratic Party. Unions collect dues from employees, often times while they drive a wedge between the employee and employer, by trying to force the company to give the employee more, so they can collect more…and in turn, contribute some of that to the Democrats, so they keep their political support. In the end, companies are forced to leave the U.S., or close down, because they can’t afford to make it here anymore. The end result? Good, hard-working people lose jobs. So in reality, Democrats are helping to push jobs out of America. What? This isn’t rocket science!
Why do we put each other and ourselves into these narrow-minded boxes? Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a balance? Shouldn’t we be encouraging companies to stay in the United States and treat their employees with fairness, while at the same time, helping employees to understand that you can’t expect be paid exuberant amounts of money in comparison to profit margins without chasing companies away or shutting them down? Why does it always have to be one or the other—always a tug of war?
I’ve struggled with this for years, so much that I’ve changed the party on my voter registration a few times. Once, I showed up to vote and found that I couldn’t. Why? Because I was registered at the time as a Democrat and it was a Republican primary election—an oversight on my part at the time. That fact alone—that we are restricted to vote only for our party affiliation in a primary election—is nonsense! As citizens, we should be able to vote for candidates based on merit, and we should be able to vote 100% of the time during any election, end of story. Furthermore, candidates running for office shouldn’t be expected to make those “merits” fit into ridged, pre-defined categories.
Mitt Romney is a Mormon. We all know that by now, right? I watched a video clip on the news recently that surprised me, although I’m not sure why. Romney was at a diner somewhere, talking politics and trying to be visible, when he walked up to an older man sitting alone at a table and attempted to shake his hand. The man turned around with a wrinkled, sour face and said something like, “You’re someone I will never vote for. I’ll never vote for a Mormon—no sir!” The man was downright nasty. He turned his back on Romney, who replied, “Okay, well, can I shake your hand anyway?” “No!” the man snapped in a terse tone, refusing to show Mitt anything but the back of his shoulder. Why, oh why, do we still feel the need to treat people that way in the twenty-first century—in the name of religion? How archaic!
I grew up going to church. I don’t go anymore, because I learned (sadly) that there’s a lot of hypocrisy to be found in organized religion, and I simply didn’t want to deal with that anymore. But I’m comfortable in my beliefs and values. I did sit in Sunday school week after week learning the lessons of the bible for years and years. It tells us not to judge—that a place of judgment is God’s place alone. It teaches us to be kind. The man at the diner was both judgmental and unkind.
I believe abortion can be argued in a similar fashion. Personally, I cannot imagine ever aborting a baby myself. Maybe that’s because I grew up going to church, or maybe it’s because every time I look at my two kids, I just can’t fathom it. Regardless, I’m not in a position to judge anyone who ever would make such a decision. It’s not my place, and I don’t think abortion is something that should continue to be at the center of political debates, when we have so many other pressing things to discuss. We are more worried about what will, or will not happen with a seeded embryo, than what is happening amongst ourselves. That embryo can’t yet sustain life on it’s own. We are walking, talking, breathing, individuals in the here and now. And yet, we don’t focus on the now.
We call ourselves a great nation. We say that we embrace diversity, and yet we prove over and over that we are prejudice in so many ways. We want to tell gays they cannot marry, we want to tell women they can’t make decisions about their own bodies, and we do it all in the name of religion.
Airplanes were made into human bombs, and New York City’s Twin Towers burned and crumbled, also all in the name of religion, albeit a radically fascist one.
When will we see that what we should take from religion and politics alike is the meaning of what it is to be an honest, compassionate human being?
If you believe that you will face God someday, then surely you believe that you will be responsible for your sins alone, not the sins of others. That’s what the Bible says. With that knowledge we should be able to leave responsibility where it belongs. If you don’t believe in a hereafter, then respect others who do. Either way, simply accept these differences in beliefs for what they are—different choices that all of us are entitled to make and live with.
The one thing I’ve taken away from my Sunday school days, more than anything else, is what it means to be a good person. Religious or not, we should all try to be more compassionate, more caring, and kinder individuals. We should respect ourselves, respect each other, and stop judging.
Remember the nineties? Quite frankly, I never cared who Bill Clinton was or was not having extramarital relations with either. His duties to his country were completely different than his duties to his wife. It’s not that I condone it—I don’t—but it was none of our business. We only needed to be concerned with whether or not he was honest about, and doing the job, we elected him to do. It was suddenly as if most of the nation (and most of the population of “Christians”) decided that the President should be perfect. The elected title is “President”, folks, not “God”. Doesn’t the Bible tell us that no one is perfect, and that mortals will sin? Doesn’t it preach forgiveness? Oh, the double standards we have! We should be ashamed.
We should be able to run for office without narrowing our viewpoints so they fit into a red or blue category. And we should be able to vote just the same. I guess we do have the Independent category, though, don’t we? But, wait a minute—no one ever goes very far in that lane, do they? Sadly, it seems, that’s mostly because of the almighty dollar, and if we start discussing that, this post will end up far too long.
I don’t care if our president is black, white, female, male, Christian, or Mormon. What we should all care about is finding someone who’s honest, compassionate, respectful, non-judgmental, competent, and willing to make tough choices that will benefit the majority. I hope I’m alive to see that day, although I doubt it. Perhaps, if we can stop being so short-sighted, if we can dare to think that our system may not be perfect (oh my!), and if we can open ourselves up to a bigger, broader picture, where we focus on issues instead of elephants and donkeys, we can find a President who gets it!
America is said to be a great nation. I hope her grace and greatness aren’t dying with her leaders of yesterday.