Chronicles in Ordinary Time 21: Politics

A warning from the outset: if you are planning on voting for Mitt Romney, you probably won’t like what follows. The efficient person will therefore not waste time by reading this. If you are like my brother-in-law, it will only raise your blood pressure , and you won’t like most of what you read.

I am not expecting to change anyone’s mind, nor am I trying.

I finished this image in 2008; I began it on that night in 2007 that Hilary Clinton conceded that she would not be the Democratic candidate for President…

Commemoration of President Barack Obama’s election to the Presidency of the United states

The quotations above, from the Declaration of Independence, from President Abraham Lincoln,  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Barack Obama all share Dr. King’s hope:

I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Four years later, I find that I am voting against Mitt Romney and the Republican party platform, more than I am for President Obama. Prior to the 2008 election, I was a registered Republican, and voted for Republican candidates for something like 40 years.

I created the image above because I was honoring what I thought was impossible–that a person of color could ever become President of these still-racist, not-very-united States.

I am about as ‘white’ as one can be–from the color of my hair to the coloring of my skin. I spend most of my life in my office  in Oregon; I haven’t spent any significant time in the sunshine for years. I am also a first-generation immigrant to this amazing country. My forebears came to this country from Norway and Sweden; presumably to find a better life than they experienced in their home countries. I have never had that kind of courage; and have only found one other place than Oregon that I’d prefer to live–the expensive Hawaiian Islands. My ‘adventure’ in freelancing has made it so that we can’t afford to live elsewhere- I invested the ownership of two ‘free and clear’ houses into mortgages that have supported my business.

Not entirely coincidental to the campaigning of recent months, I’ve been listening to “Yes We Can-Voices Of A Grassroots Movement”– an album of music commemorating the Obama Presidential campaign. The music is interspersed with quotations from Dr. King, as well as from Senator Barack Obama:

“The fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper, that’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now” Senator Barack Obama

Many Conservatives apparently hate that quotation; because they believe that this is not part of the American Constitution. For them, somehow this belief translates into the concept that people don’t have to care for themselves; that they don’t have to achieve based on their own efforts. That people who advocate this kind of thinking want the government to take responsibility for their lives.

I am my brother’s keeper. I do not believe that the Government should take care of all of my needs.

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. For the last 40 of my 60 years, this understanding has been the foundation of my life. Nearly every decision I make is filtered by this belief. I don’t always make the ‘correct’ decisions. Or, perhaps more accurately, the consequences of these filtered decisions don’t always end up with results that I assumed would occur.

Many of us hear the words of Dr. King, and hope is rekindled. Many of us hope for a country that operates in a way where human failing doesn’t have the final vote. We hope for a perhaps-utopian vision where people treat each other with respect, honesty and fairness. Where elected officials truly serve their constituencies; rather than the desires of a Special Interest group.

The subtext I see in the hundreds of email messages I’ve received from Progressive groups  in recent months, is that the Presidency is bought. The party that raises the most money wins. Granted, there is a ‘trickle-down’ effect that benefits certain portions of the advertising and printing services in our country.

What happened to the notion that character and belief determines the outcome of elections?

In my opinion the Obama Presidency has been a disappointment. A recent PBS documentary included a scene from a Hilary Clinton speech, where she said, in effect, that Senator Obama was naive, if he thought that the desire for cooperation would have any impact on Washington. She was correct. It’s a naive thought. Our government has been corrupted by money and power; reflective of many of our citizens.

The fact that the Obama Presidency has had only limited success in overcoming the greed and selfishness of corporate-serving Republicans in Congress isn’t a reason to give up on The Dream.  A family member of mine is convinced that President Obama is the worst president since President Carter. Coincidentally, the only other President in my lifetime that was overtly Christian in his words, policies and actions. Fortunately, Jimmy Carter, the former-President, has been able to accomplish more in this world than he ever would have as a former-Governor.

President Obama’s military policies belie his Nobel Prize for Peace. However, my belief is that the Nobel Prize was given to the first person-of-color to become President of a country that still believes that ‘all white males were created equally’. The rest of the world knows this truth, and knows that Americans live with the fantasy that that we are far better than we behave. The rest of the world remembers Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the Japanese internment camps, and the slaughter of our indigenous population; the policies of the State of Arizona, and similarly-held white-only prejudices.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I still have a dream that our country can live in harmony. That people of all colors, all nationalities, all religious beliefs can share the earth equitably. That we can assist other countries in their growth without becoming their overseers.

It’s probably just wishful thinking. But what’s the alternative?





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