I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t comment about politics. At 29, this is quickly becoming the most challenging year for me to discern my political perspective. To say that I lean “Left” would be stating the obvious for anyone who knows me. I don’t intend to come across that way, and almost never do I ack0wledge that point blank – as I’ve done here. What the Democrats say in public makes more sense to me than what the Republicans say (I choose the word “say” because I am not naive as to how that often varies between words and practice. In actuality what both parties claim to be about differs only slightly – sure how they claim that we’re going to get there doesn’t, but they both claim to improve/end the war, protect the country, lower taxes while spending more all over, yada yada . . . but man, have we become partisan in this country!)
I follow politics probably more than the average American (read that as a bash against average Americans, not that I follow politics closely), but don’t waste too much time on it. I have voted in probably half the elections since I’ve been 18, like most Americans, focusing more on the Presidential ones. I’ve voted mostly for Democratic candidates,but not exclusively. I often feel completely uneducated on local candidates when I see the full ballot, so often I have to leave much of the ballot blank.
I have two points I’d like to pursue and would be interested for others’ perspectives. First of all, I’m becoming more and more intrigued as to why my ideological slant is so consistently left – definitely not the place most of my friends and colleagues lean. Secondly, I’m really struggling with whether or not the Christian is best served by participation in the government (which, if you’ve ever read here before, about which I have commented often). I’m really working on one of my biggest flaws in writing – being concise! So, I will address the first point here today, and work on posting on the second later this week.
Why am I liberal? My parents were/are the typical uninformed and apolitical type that represent many in this country. I have never known my dad to be a big supporter of anyone or any issue. He’s always been more concerned with what is happening to General Motors (his employer) and occasionally sees an intersection there with politics. My mom tends to ride the coattail of her dad (my grandpa), a yellow dog Democrat as they say.
Politically, my two biggest influences are probably my Grandpa and my mom’s sister, both registered Democrats. I suppose, like most kids growing up, I just supposed that’s the way most people like me were like. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The older I got, I realized that the town in which I grew up (Defiance) was a Republican stronghold. Ohio, the state in which I was raised, tended to be conservative (though things have changed in recent years). And then, the big shocker, when I went to Lipscomb and sat in my Bible classes there I realized that it was just assumed that everyone there was a conservative Republican. Sure there were dissenters, but very few, and almost never was that vocalized. So . . . somehow in the midst of all this experience, it was the liberal ideology that has stuck with me.
Obviously, our country right now is about a 50/50 split between Republicans and Democrats (the third parties’ and independents’ perspectives demand another post, so I’m acknowledging there place, but ignoring the conversation for now). There are some stereotypes that statistically hold true (meaning they are trends, not dead-in-the-water-facts) like urban areas tend to be blue, suburban areas red, minorities blue, WASPs red, the higher your degrees, the more likely you are to be blue (college grads look to be about 50/50, but after that the likelihood of being a Democrat escalates). So . . . looking at my stats: WASP, master’s degree, suburbanite . . . wow, it should be a foregone conclusion . . . so, what happened? Did my education outweigh all the other factors? Are my family ties that strong?
I have no idea. There is an elder at our church that I talk, no debate with, often who stands diametrically opposed to me on about every ideological possibility. He’s a good guy, well thought, we’re both cordial and enjoy talking with each other broadening the horizon (I can be his token liberal and he’s my token conservative) we both go to the same church, have the same hopes and dreams for the future . . . and could not see the world more differently. How can this be?
Right now, my working thesis is that the familial perspective you are raised in is the most difficult aspect of our persona to alter. Why is adult Christian proselytizing such a challenge? It’s as challenging as asking someone to go against their parents (many times). I am who I am because that was the way I was raised. Now . . . my brother ensures me he is voting for Ron Paul, so, by no means is it a foregone conclusion. We are no way predestined totally at the mercy of our upbringing. However, as Freud has shown, all those small subtle influencers along the way while we are growing up are slowly molding us into the people that we become as adults.
As much as I wish to believe that I am a free thinker, the truth of the matter is that there are very few brilliant minds that can think outside of themselves. I do not have one of them. I am forced to think within the construct that has been molded for me. Do I sympathize with Republican perspectives and values – absolutely. I am at a place where I can tear up at the very thought of an abortion, and yet vote for a party that refuses to legislate against it. Does that make me inconsistent? Perhaps it would in many other’s minds, but it doesn’t in mine. Legislation is the furthest thing in my mind to stopping the problem of abortion. I am sick and tired of that issue becoming the litmus test for evangelical Christians. It is a horrid thing! Few people disagree with that! That’s right – few, very few! Most statistics show abortions went down in the Clinton administration (I didn’t hear that on Fox News, so it may not be true). No one is in favor of having unwanted children. People die in our world every day because of other sources of immorality. Health care is quickly becoming every bit the moral issue that abortion is.
OK, OK, OK, almost got rolling too much on that stuff (my hopes of being concise are just about gone). I know most conservatives probably could have done without that last paragraph. I am trying hard to weed out of my language the caustic tones that I see prevalent in almost all political reports (so, remove “sick and tired,” “That’s right – few, very few!” the Fox News parenthetical statement, and that should make it a little more palatable. Sorry. But that is exactly what I’m getting at.
There is something so alive in us about our ideologies. It comes back to the two no-no’s in public discussion – two topics I’m sure Miss Manners would say to leave alone: religion and politics. And the two have become merged together in the past two Presidential elections like never before, and I think, left Christians in a precarious and difficult position. A position that forces us to rethink our involvement in the political process altogether.