I was watching a young friend's facebook yesterday and she was excited that she was going to vote for the very first time. And she makes it very clear that she is a fan of Barak Obama. I remember my first time to vote and how excited I was about it. I am not so excited this time.
The bulk of the comments were from her friends, both sides of the political spectrum, who were saying this or that about her choice of candidate and she became very defensive, very fast. And the name calling and labeling began. Stupid Republicans, dumb democrats, sarcasm, the country will go to hell if you elect so and so... and I just sighed.
I wanted to tell them that this stuff has been going on since I first voted. The claims that if you vote for the democrats the country will go to hell and if you vote for the republicans they will starve little children. I wanted to tell them that the personal attacks and fear mongering from both the left and the right means nothing. I wanted to tell them that in my lifetime, both parties have held all the power (executive and legislative) at some point and we are all still here. I wanted to tell them, but I didn't. I think this is something they may have to find out for themselves.
In my spiritual growth over the last decade, I have learned a few things. Democrats are not evil. Republicans are not always right. That if you vote out of some misguided party loyalty, then you are doing yourself and your country a disservice. I have learned that liberals and conservatives and moderates and independents all have something to say. I have learned I don't have to agree with any of them. I have learned to value all of them. I have learned to "agree to disagree". I have learned that if you honestly believe a certain thing and can back it up, you should vote your beliefs. YOUR BELIEFS. Not something someone else has taught you. Something you have come to believe yourself out of your walk. It is important. It is powerful. It might make a difference.
I wanted to tell them that neither party is going to solve any of the problems we face. They are not interested in that. They both have agendas and power trips that they are fueling and feeding. Meanwhile, the issues we face are still present. Poverty, terrorism, the economy, health care, crime, life, whatever. And four years from now they will still be present. But no one will remember the promises that were made. No one will hold them accountable.
Don't get me wrong, I do have my own convictions, beliefs, theories, preferences. I think there are certain things that are right and certain things that are wrong, certain policy approaches that are better than others, and I will vote that way. But not because I think one party or one person is going to descend from the heavens and establish Utopia on earth, but because I feel that is the right thing for me and my country. Jesus tells us in Matthew that the poor will always be among us, and that is true. He also says whatever you do for the least of these... So we have our work cut out for us. We need a sense of balance. We need statesmen who will stand on principle. We need a government "of they people, by the people and for the people".
Hopefully the fear mongers and haters and nasty pundits will go away for another four years so we can get back to doing what is important: Loving one another.
Now go vote.