Four years ago, during the Republican National Convention, I wrote these words in my journal. They bear repeating, I think:
September 1, 2004:
"I have always admired Laura and George W for their faith, their commitment to each other, their moral integrity. They are, as far as I can tell, from across TV and media spins, true. Christianly in fact, not just veneer. However, I disagree so strongly with republican policies, with Bush's decisions to go to war with Iraq, with the economic policies and lack of any conservation ones at all, that I won't vote for him. I can't bring myself to vote for a man rather than the issues.
This is a fundamental dilemma: Is the President the man or the office (and administration)? Should one vote for/ want a bad man (morally) or even simply a less good man who makes right decisions for the country or a good man personally who takes the country in the wrong direction? Certainly it's easier if one can align a person and decisions, but I'm not sure it's that clear a pond anymore. At least not this time.
Two concerns: What of the compounding dilemma of agreeing with some policies of a candidate but not others? How do I, or anyone, determine, which issues matter most? For most Christians, abortion is the the issue, and all else hinges on how a presidential candidate feels about a child's right to life. And I am absolutely pro-life in every sense, myself. But it's a simple-minded thing to care about a baby's right to life, and not be pro-gun control or not worry about sending them off to die at 18 in wars that shouldn't have been started in the first place. That makes no sense to me. And what of stem-cell research, a God-like practice, in my naive understanding? How do I stir this into the mix? Exactly which issues should sway me most? And then I think, we cast our votes so late on election night that most of the time it barely matters.
Secondly, as I sit in my house, living my quiet, middle-class life, I have to wonder what difference it will make, in the long run, who wins the election. When 9-11 happened, I walked out into my backyard on that sunny Tuesday morning, and honestly thought the world would change--even for us, even in our far corner of of this continent. I wondered if it was the last simple morning of life for us. But it wasn't. Sure, we were pre-occupied for a while, kept the TV on more than usual, hung a flag on our front door, but that flag came down after a while. We turned the TV off, got used to lines at the airport. Life is back to normal now. We live far away from the epicenters of power, and carry on as usual. Who lives in the White House, even when he's impotent, even when he's ridiculous, doesn't seem to effect us very much. So does it matter? Will the war really end? Will life be safer, cleaner, better for Americans? Will there be jobs for my children when they finish their expensive college educations? Will we be friends in the world community? I'm just skeptical to wonder. It never has before. Who is president has had little impact on my ordinary life."
But maybe, maybe this time...
I want it to.