Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A question, if you please

So I watched the debate last night.  In the CNN pre-game show, one of the pundits, in explaining the format of the supposed townhall event (It didn't really seem very townhallish to me--too much pontificating rather than simply engaging in a back and forth with the citizens, for all that they leaned in, thanked them by name, called them--as nauseum--"my friends."  But then I haven't actually ever been to a townhall meeting, so who knows what goes on there.), said that something like 6 million people had sent in email questions.  Boy, did I feel out of it--I didn't even know it was an option to send in a question.  And I have one.  A question for both candidates.  And I think it's a salient one.  So I thought I'd just get it off my chest, and hope that someone out there actually has an answer.

Why don't you--either of you--trust me, us, the American people, to cast our votes based on the issues?  Why do you continually reduce yourselves--and us!--by running an ugly, mudslinging, character-assassinating campaign? It is NOT well-done of you.  You should be above this. I expect you to be.  Don't tell me it's the only way, don't tell me it's the way it's always been done.  If the way it's always been done is the only way, count me out.  I'll never approve. And you're both doing it.  Don't you realize how important the job is?  We're banking (to be punny) on you to make a difference in our lives, after all.  And we're anxious to respect you.  And frankly, at the moment, we're only disappointed by the mean-spirit between you.  Each of you, at one point or another, claimed you weren't going to do this, and now, because you want to win, you are.  You, Barack Obama, told us months ago that you wouldn't bring up the Keating Loan scandal because it wasn't germaine to the presidential race.  It was old news. But here you are, making it part of the equation.  And you, John McCain, I liked you better when you were sticking it to Washington instead of your opponent, when you weren't sending out your pet barracuda to bald-face lie about him "palling around with terrorists." Shame on you both.

See, I have a stake in this election.  I want my own life to be easier.  I want this country to survive the current crisis that has left us having to work until we're in our nineties.  I want things to be better for my children, for my unborn grandchildren.  And I believe--honestly I do--that the office of President is larger than a person.  It's a sacred trust we give when we cast our votes, a trust that whoever holds that office will care more about us than he (and it's still he) does himself, to quote the movie "Dave."  You have forgotten this, I think, in the blindness of your ambition.

Jesus tells us to render to Caesar--and the President is the closest thing we have to such a person--the things that are his.  He was talking about money, of course. But also whatever else is due him--respect, honor, our prayers (!).  And Paul confirms this in Romans when he tells us to respect those in authority.  And I want to.  After the last eight years, it's no easy task.  There was much I haven't been able to respect lately.  I'm sitting here, poised to do that.  I want to believe that whoever holds this office will be a person of integrity.  Don't you know this?  Don't you understand that this is what we want most?  Unfortunately, I've always had the feeling that the very best people to lead this country never actually apply for the job.  These people don't have what it takes--the stomach for dirt--to survive a campaign.  People like the Beve, like my father and father-in-law, my brothers (and my sisters, for that matter).  People like my son.  People like this wouldn't dream of entering the political arena because they're too humble--servants who want to make a difference by teaching, serving, telling the truth.  And, tell me this, why is it that many of those who do run seem to become better people after leaving office, or losing it, or losing the campaign?  Jimmy Carter, for instance, and Al Gore? Is it something about the job itself that brings out the worst in you--something about the blindness of your ambition?  I had high hopes that this time--this time--with your noted pasts and soaring rhetoric, that maybe, just maybe, you would be some of the 'very best' this country has to offer.  But now I'm just not sure.

There's less than a month to go now.  You could still redeem yourselves. Wouldn't you like to sleep better in all those hotel rooms?  Wouldn't you like to look us in the eye without feeling ashamed?  Can't you trust us to make an informed, reasonable choice?  Give us the benefit of the doubt that we're equal to this task.  At this moment, I think we care too much to be as stupid as you seem to think we are. I want to believe so, anyway.  And I want you to believe it as well. After all, it's our lives you're holding, our livelihoods here, and for some, our very lives themselves.  I'm going to vote, of course.  I'm ready to.  But please, give me a chance to vote for you at your best, not your worst.

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened." ~ Winston Churchill

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