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Politics [2008]

I avoid politics on this blog. Politics make me cynical. I’m not exactly apathetic about politics like I sometimes claim to be, but I’m not very interested either — mainly thanks to the candidates and the process, regardless of party affiliation. I despise the political game, its empty rhetoric, its unrealistic promises, the lobbyists and special interest groups, the pork, the irrational divisiveness of America’s two party system which causes people to lose their minds.

In the primary season I was excited about Ron Paul, a nice middle-of-the-road choice even though he was after the Republican ticket. Of all the candidates, he was different. I laughed when the Obama campaign took up the Change mantra. None of the other candidates held views remotely as divergent from the status quo as Paul. I actually blogged about Huckabee because he was the only primary candidate whose website talked about the importance of the arts. Huckabee was my second choice. He was pretty different too. Of all the candidates he was the least wealthy, or at least from the least wealthy background. He’s not from an Ivy League school. McCain and Obama trade blows talking about who is more out of touch with the regular guy. Neither of them would hold a candle to Huckabee’s humble background.

But Paul and Huckabee are long gone in this election.

As the primaries wore on I was warm to Obama, despite his liberal positions on the sanctity of life, and found McCain to be excruciatingly boring as a candidate. Now I’m tired of Obama. What happened to the eloquence in his speeches? Not that eloquence is a good reason to vote for someone in and of itself, but he possessed the vocal prowess to give a good impression. Why can’t he say <em>anything</em> other than to repeat over and over "McCain is the same as Bush?"

I used to be of the position that your vote is always for the lesser of two evils. A few conversations with friends a year or two ago made me think this was just my cynicism coming through. Last night my wife — who’s equally frustrated with the election — and I perused some of the third party candidates. These candidates also boast some evil or another. One outright said that the south wasn’t wrong about slavery. I’m not kidding. Another was demanding reparations for African Americans, specifically, who’ve been hit the hardest by the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Oh, and she also "wants freedom now" according to her manifesto.

So, yeah, it really is the lesser of a few evils, even when you go beyond the Rs and the Ds. And that’s OK. We’re all human, right? Of course we are. We all screw up. None of us get it all right.

Another thing that bugs me — and this is getting closer to what prompted this post — is people’s seeming inability to realize that the parties and their platforms aren’t evil. Nor are they perfect. I don’t care what candidate or party or unparty you affiliate with, it’s not going to get it all right all of the time. Or probably even any of the time. Because it’s made up of people (see above), and life and its issues are complex, contrary to the impressions conveyed by confident candidates on the stump.

Tim Jones wrote <a href="http://timothyjones.typepad.com/old_world_swine/2008/10/dorothy-day-on.html">an interesting post</a> today talking about the poor.

<ul><p class=’p1′>"The great temptation in an age which calls itself social — when besides the Church, the state, the municipality and other public bodies devote themselves so much to social problems — is that when the poor man knocks on the door, people, even believers will just send him away to an agency or social center, to an organization, thinking that their personal obligation has been sufficiently fulfilled by their contributions in taxes or voluntary gifts to those institutions."

The poor don’t very much need to stand in line at a drab, soulless, fluorescent-lit government office and pick up a check. They need money, yes, but it would do worlds more good if this help came through a friend. This is how we help the poor — not by inventing this or that new program, but by making poor friends. Not by being concerned about "the poor," but by showing concern for a poor person.</p></ul>

Good stuff; a necessary exhortation. The poor are traditionally leveraged by the Democratic platform. They are also a very integral part of Jesus’ teaching. Why then is the Republican party the bastion of so many of the "religious right?" Just because people like Dr. James Dobson have made abortion and "family values" the most important issue? Of course, the issue of the poor isn’t that clear either, even though it’s often made out to be. And if the poor are so much a part of the Democrat’s platform, why do studies show that Republicans give more to charity?

Sure, yeah, there’s been all kinds of talk of bipartisanism in the last decade, but very little significant effort in that direction.

I’ll conclude this rant by quoting Anne Lamott, who I wrote about this morning. Lamott is an unashamed flaming liberal. She’s openly hostile to the Republican Bush administration in her book Plan B, but said in <a href="http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/04/11/midmorning2/">a public radio interview</a> that her 2007 book Grace (Eventually) speaks of how she hates Bush less than she used to. She then dropped this morsel:

<div align="center"><strong>You know you’ve created God in your image when He hates all the same people you do.</strong></div>