Although I’m not completely pleased with President Obama, I will support him for another four years.
Ideologically and as a Christian, I have become more aligned with progressive policies than conservative ones, primarily because a wealthy nation should care for its weakest citizens. A prosperous nation doesn’t gain or maintain success by increasing cultural and economic divides.
In Jesus’ day, when asked about taxes (it was a trick question then, too), he instructed his followers to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” I would venture to say that capitalism and personal acquisition of material things are not inherently bad, but ‘prosperity doctrine’ has come to replace (or at least overshadow) principles of the early church. Though our democracy affords its citizens some say in the amount of taxes owed and where they are directed, and allows us to elect our leaders, we are still to respect authority and concern ourselves (as Christians) more with enacting the spirit and intent of Jesus’ basic teachings than vociferously denouncing these.
Jesus didn’t say to assess whether the poor are hungry and unclothed because they don’t work hard enough or suffer from addictions, he said to feed and clothe them. As Christians in a (presumably) democratic nation, we have the benefit of some of our tax dollars achieving these goals, and we have the right to influence elected officials to improve upon funded services. To most sustainably achieve this, we must also ensure even the least opportune children are afforded good education, and adults are given employment opportunities beyond low-paying service jobs.
Unfortunately, President Obama’s best efforts to keep his campaign promises and deliver a better America have been stymied by a Republican majority House. His attempts at compromise have been first rebuffed, then disparaged. The increasing extremism of the GOP platform is frightening to me. It selectively praises ideals of free actors in society while restricting healthcare for women and those already sick and protecting the ‘rights’ of polluters to damage everybody’s air and water quality in their praised pursuit of higher profits (among other concerns.)
Conversely, there seem to be a number of fears held by many conservative Christian Republicans about President Obama’s leadership (and Democrats generally), and abortion is at the top of the list.
Advocating for women’s choice isn’t interchangeable with advocating for abortion. I wish there never was another. However, it’s not a bright line issue for me, and I won’t support policies that criminalize doctors and women. Our jails are full, and abortion legality or illegality doesn’t functionally get to the heart of the matter.
We can’t vilify teens and adults who have sex outside of marriage. That most traditional Christians oppose sex outside of marriage does not mean it is an expectation rightfully imposed and politically thrust upon others. The fact that people are having sex who cannot afford birth control, married or unmarried, is a fact of life (always has been). If the bigger moral issue is avoidance of abortion, birth control should be made readily available for the good of society and as the more compassionate, reality-embracing option. Condemning women and children to a life of difficulty should hardly be the ‘lesson’ we are to teach, and casting stones isn’t our calling.
It is disingenuous to stand on a platform shaming young women (who didn’t get pregnant alone but many of whom will raise children alone), while at the same time creating policies ensuring they and their children won’t have a chance to live abundant, productive lives. Policies that ship manufacturing jobs overseas, reduce food stamps programs (often directly jeopardizing these in favor of military spending that does not benefit strapped military families), demonize and neuter unions, and cut school programs ensure children will not be raised by their parents who are instead forced to work long hours for little pay.
On marriage equality, there are a number of Biblical interpretations which do not vilify homosexuality (a word that was only invented in 1892). Regardless, again, this is a choice made by consenting adults which has no place being legislated against in a democracy. We’ve decided as a society to extend extra benefits for straight married couples, which creates an unequal standard. We should either remove these benefits for married men and women, or expand the application to those same sex couples willing to enter the legally binding contract of marriage. I prefer creating civil unions only for all couples in the eyes of the state, and leave marriages to churches of all faiths. The 1950’s “white picket fence” world nostalgic to some is only a candy coated part of the story from that part of U.S. history, and we can’t legislate our way backwards. Nor should we. We have to take people as they are, and create a new vision for heaven on earth. Dictating options for love and companionship leaves out a valuable segment of our population.
I watched a propaganda video intended to paint Obama as a secret, scary Muslim. I was left irritated at the premise that this would be bad for America, and instead reflected for the first time on the idea that, if true, this could be a tremendous asset for our country. In this increasingly global world, this could help build trust with Muslim nations attempting to implement democratic governments. It’s interesting to me that I grew up indoctrinated in thinking the Mormon faith is a cult, but Christians are ready to put their faith in a Mormon rather than a professing Christian who also has ties to Islam. It seems natural to me that he, being raised by his single mother and her family, would have also sought knowledge of the faith of his father and paternal family’s culture.
This fascination with the professed religion of any President is too much beside the point. The question for those most concerned with the impact on their personal lives should be: which candidate will most faithfully preserve our freedoms, regardless of creed (or lack thereof)? Separation of church and state is for the protection of the church as much as the purer democracy of the state. I think Christians should be involved in politics, but not to the exclusion or minimization of love-first policies in financial contributions, words, and deeds.
One last area of potential concern (and a bit of a surprise that it’s a heated issue among turn-the-other-cheek, practicing Christians): gun ownership. I simply don’t think any president will take away guns. It’s not a feasible fear due to the strength of the gun lobby and popular support, though that’s unfortunate. I’m fine with responsible ownership of guns, but I’m not supportive of assault weapons and ammunition being so readily available with zero accountability or tracking. It’s disconcerting that we’re so protective of our personal rights to mass-murder other humans under the guise of self-defense.
I do not understand the picking-and-choosing of application of biblical tenets of Christian political activists, denigrating efforts to feed the hungry while opposing expressions of free will, but I suppose I’m valuing Jesus’ primary teachings over other portions of the Bible as well. My personal conclusions are a combination of applied Christianity and policies I think contribute to a healthier American society, a greater land of opportunity for all her citizens, without favoring those who were born to the strongest and wealthiest.
So, although I’m not entirely pleased with many of Obama’s policies (including environmental), I think slow growth of the economy and people-first policies are necessary when contrasted with both Republican ideals and Romney’s stated positions. Unbridled profiteering (changing laws and corporate subsides via lobbyist efforts systematically creates victims and is not capitalism) has damaged our country and the quality of life of workers in developing nations. As Christians, we cannot turn a blind eye to this. A return of investment in U.S. owned and operated companies, playing by fair labor and good environmental stewardship ideals, rewarding 21st century sustainability standards and innovation: these will more slowly but more lastingly help our hurting country. We’ve had unsustainable, inflated growth (outsourcing the negative environmental impacts), and expensive wars. It’s time for forward-looking models. (PS, Ayn Rand was a secular humanist, not a Christian. Her philosophy is entirely that of the self-serving egoist, rather the opposite of Christ’s teachings.)
Finally, Obama’s administration will continue to surround him with advisers closer to my ideals. Romney/Paul statements blaming the poor for being poor (among other acclaimed positions) fundamentally concern me. Four more years, hopefully with a House and Senate that can enact a jobs bill without party politics blocking every forward motion, will be better overall. He’s done enough to deserve that chance, and his slower improvements are partially the fault of fail-at-any-cost opposition efforts and are potentially best for our Country in the long haul.