I don’t usually write blogs on political subjects.
My preferred subject matter is spirituality, and its concepts and challenges are generally more timeless and less topical than those of politics.
But one thing that politics and spirituality have in common is the power of ideas to change reality.
In that vein, an idea that I’d like to put out there—at the inception of the Democratic Convention in my native hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina—is that a landslide re-election of Barack Obama would be enormously good for this country. Here’s why:
1. It would give Obama a chance to reach his leadership potential. Given the enormity of the challenges he faced upon taking office—and the recalcitrance of congressional Republicans obviously focused more on getting rid of him than on dealing with this country’s problems—I think Obama has done a pretty good job.
The President is not elected to be a miracle worker, but to provide leadership. A landslide re-election that also gave him clear-cut majority support in the House and Senate would enable him to lead more effectively.
2. It would signal that a clear majority of voters understand the gravity of our problems and have the patience to deal with them. The immense psychological and economic trauma of 9/11, augmented by the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush, sank this country into a very deep hole that it might not have been able to dig out of. President Obama is being criticized for the fact that we are just now clutching our way to solid ground again, when we’re blessed to be getting out of such a deep hole at all.
Americans like quick fixes, and they definitely don’t like the long slog of taking responsibility for their own most grievous errors. When the Republicans didn’t invite their most recent two-term Presidential officeholder to speak at their convention, it was a tacit acknowledgment that they’re just trying to forget a very damaging period of failed national leadership. They hope to convince Americans to forget it as well, by blaming its long-term effects on Obama.
Giving Obama a clear mandate to finish his work will show that Americans recognize the real problems and the tenacity required to ease them.
3. It will give Republicans a chance to overcome their fears and rededicate their policies to true conservative values. The Republicans are running a figurehead candidate whose actual positions are hard to pin down, and even they seem not to like him very much. But their platform is full of outmoded, ineffective ideas:
- >> trickle-down economics, based in part on a fear of poor people
- >> restrictive marriage policies, based on a fear of gay people
- >> just plain weird sexual politics, based on a fear of women
- >> an unsubtle defense of monotheism, based on a fear of religious diversity
- >> and a denial of science, based on a fear of science.
That’s a lot of fears, and none of them will be made more helpful or true by being affirmed in a national election.
While I think America’s political discourse needs a voice of real “conservatism” (that is, the upholding of traditional values like honor, integrity, entrepreneurism, service to the country and protection of national resources, both material and spiritual) the Republican Party hasn’t had much to do with traditional conservatism in quite a while.
It has almost been completely overtaken by an amalgam of fears trumpeted by the Tea Party. Those fears arose while the nation was tumbling into the aforementioned very deep hole, and they have not been eased by misplacing the blame for our tumble.
It should also be said that the notion that any such fears are ostensibly “Bible-based” is a desperate justification that could not be countenanced by anyone who actually respects the profundity of the Bible or the teaching examples of Jesus Christ. When people are afraid, they will seek out or imagine almost any kind of authority to certify their fears, and “God” is not infrequently abused in that manner.
While there was a certain bizarre charm evinced by Clint Eastwood’s performance at the Republican National Convention (and I, like the President, still like Eastwood as a public personality and admire him as a film artist), his soliloquy ended up as a telltale symbol of present-day Republicans: a party led by the mentality of older white men talking to, and about, something that isn’t there.
The truth is that poor people aren’t out to hurt America, gay people aren’t out to hurt America, minorities aren’t out to hurt America, and even scientists aren’t out to hurt America. Yet one side of our national political dialogue is largely devoted to such fears, and it’s time for our society to turn away from them once and for all.
A landslide re-election of Barack Obama will not solve all our problems as a nation, a culture or a species.
For some of those problems, we have to turn to the “God of our understanding” and the spiritual discipline of our choice. But as far as politics goes, the landslide re-election of Barack Obama will be a healthy step in the spiritual direction of letting go of fear.
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger