Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Political Ramblings

Something has been brewing within me for the last many months and has taken on a new life in this calendar year. And that something is a growing political awareness. Oh, my husband has been into politics since his childhood, and I could claim that my interest is all about having something to talk about with him, but really that's not true. If I had to characterize our respective interests in politics, I'd see his as more of a sport and mine as more of an artistic expression.

I strongly dislike partisan politics, and even though I am a registered Republican and even an officer of a Republican club, I do not have warm fuzzy feelings about the Republican party. I make great flirtatious overtures toward the Libertarians. Let's just say I'm deeply enamoured with Ron Paul. I am so grateful for his voice in our country right now.

Part of the reason I write about my political interest as a big deal has to do with experiencing the freedom to express my heart and my convictions. Let's see if I can explain why.

In the past I've felt like there were only two possible sides: current Republicans or current Democrats, and I felt compelled to take sides with "the good guys," as if standing for the right to life expunged all other lapses in judgment one might make. A few months ago I realized what a grave error that is, and how stupid I was to simply gulp down everything done by Republicans as good medicine. Part of the reason I was not always thinking critically about what was happening was out of fear of looking bad to my friends. What, am I 13? I made fun of people falling in "lock step" with a political view, but in fact I was doing it myself.

Because the right to life has always been so central in my political reasoning, I have usually thought only in terms of whether or not a candidate is pro-life in my consideration for voting. So, for example, I supported George Bush over Al Gore and John Kerry. However, let me whisper something in your ear. I actually believe that George Bush completely lost his mind by the end of his presidency, if he hadn't lost it significantly earlier. I had been very iffy on supporting the war and opposed it in my gut when it started. But I was willing to give GW the benefit of the doubt, which does not seem to have paid off well. His educational policy I never supported at all. His spending, with the final fiasco of the October bailout, was insane. I can see these things now and say them with much clearer judgment. Yes, Bush upheld and protected a lot of pro-life legislation, and that was good. But these other matters were not inconsequential little tidbits.

I need to keep learning and watching as reality unfolds before us. I need to speak and work from my passions and my intelligence, and not ignore reality or stuff my life under a bushel basket that I imagine someone else will take care of.

There are a lot of scary bills afoot and a lot of appointments being made of people with unpleasant records. This is reality. However, to view politics as my personal crusade against evil is a recipe for quick burnout and disillusionment. Surely, my best efforts can't save the world. I'm under no illusions that that's what my efforts are for. My efforts are about living in obedience to and love of my Lord and God, Jesus Christ. My efforts are to be acts of charity towards others who stand to be adversely affected by any given legislation. My efforts are to live as a human. Once efforts devolve into a political battle for power, said battle is lost. It must be about the good of individuals. Part of what is good for all of us as individuals is to use our minds, our humanity, and the rights our government still currently recognizes to do the best we can for each other.


Faith said...

Marie, this is a wonderful post and echoes much of my own feelings. The only difference is I never felt any allegiance to the GOP. The only thing I like about the Republican party is that some Republicans are pro-life and the GOP will give that issue at least some attention. But I miss old fashioned conservatives!

I too think George Bush was out to lunch in a very scary way. I think Obama would never have gotten elected but for Bush's terrible, terrible policies.

I feel so hopeless right now and the truth is no matter how bad things seem, we need to be just and not reactive and we need to cling to Christ.

Marie said...

Hi Faith,

I've heard lots of people speak of feeling hopeless, and this concerns me. Perhaps I'm more aware of this because in my School of Community (a CL thing) we are reading a book about hope right now. Essentially what I've learned is that faith means being able to point to Christ's presence with me right now, and hope is certainty that Christ's presence will be with me in the future. That doesn't guarantee a lack of suffering for me, just assurance that Christ will be with me in it.

In this way, I feel more hopeful now than before, because I feel like I am taking responsibility to live my life and to think, rather than just go tra-la-la-ling along, assured that "the good guys" have everything under control for me.

But yes, it is uncanny to see so many bad laws being proposed so rapidly.