American elections: rhetoric and reality
The American general election is difficult to avoid on the Internet, as people are discussing it everywhere. As the election has drawn closer, the rhetoric has tended to become more and more intemperate, and I was tending to judge the merits of the candidates by the nastiness of their supporters, and blogged about it here.
But that is not the best way of becoming aware of the issues, or what the candidates stand for.
And then this came up on my Facebook thingy (I’m not sure if it’s a “wall” or a “timeline” or a “status”, but if you’re on Facebook you’ll know what I mean). It comes from an Orthodox priest — no names, no packdrill. I’m sure he is not ashamed of saying such things, but I am embarrassed for him.
Inspired by the comments of David French, in The Christian Post:
This election presents perhaps the clearest moral contrast of my adult life.
On one side is a candidate who is pro-life, and defends religious liberty. As governor of one of America’s most liberal states, he vetoed expanded access to the so-called “morning after” abortion pill and vetoed a bill permitting embryonic stem cell research, and was awarded by Citizens For Life for his prolife leadership.
On the other side is an incumbent who is radically pro-abortion (even supporting taxpayer funding of abortion), and has launched a frontal assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience. After promising his healthcare plan would not include abortion, his administration redefined “preventative care” (which means to screen for diseases, such as cancer) to include contraception (as if pregnancy is a *disease*); he then redefined “contraception” to include abortion drugs (so his healthcare plan would require abortion coverage), and finally, his administration redefined “religious exemption” such that churches will be forced to pay for this murder of children.
On the one side is a candidate who supports marriage, both by policy and by personal example. In the battle for marriage, Maggie Gallagher, founder of the National Organization for Marriage, writes: “Mitt Romney didn’t just oppose court-ordered same-sex marriage with words, he fought hard, including behind the scenes.” On the other side is an incumbent who refused, as Chief Law Enforcement Agent in the Nation, to defend the federal law DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act (signed by Bill Clinton), and who recinded military policies in favor of a homosexual agenda, and who has come out publicly in favor of same sex “marriage.”
I’m not sure that political candidates in a democratic election present a moral choice that is that clear and simple, so I did a Google search for one of those quiz thingies that present you with policies of election candidates, and then tell you who comes closest to your moral choices.
I found several such quizzes, and did four of them.
One told me I should suppport Barack Obama, clearly and unequivocally.
Another said that I should support the Democrats and/or the Libertarians, as they fitted the bill equally.
The other two said I should support Jill Stein.
I had to Google to find out who she was.
It turns out she’s the leader of the Green party.
This is what one of the quizzes said:
I thought that that was also the best quiz, and you can see more about it here.
It has simple Yes/No questions, but if you want something more nuanced, it will show you more possibilities.
Of course I’m not American, and the things that are important to me might not be as important to those who live in the USA, and vice versa.
For what it’s worth, I answered the quiz from a strongly “pro-life” point of view. I marked the “pro-life” questions as “most important” to me — abortion, capital punishment, embryonic stem-cell research and the war in Iraq — and indicated that I was strongly against them all.
Of course in the interpretive summary, those are not all classified together as “pro-life”, but are divided between social, domestic, foreign and science policies.
But one thing I am sure of is that this election does not present the “clearest moral contrast” of anybody’s adult life.
The issues are not black and white, but varying shades of grey.
The greatest mistake would be to think that the election of one of the candidates would be a great triumph, or that the election of another would be an unmitigated disaster. Such an attitude indicates a kind of political messianism that is unbecoming for Christians, to say the least. “Put not your trust in princes.”