October 7, 2006

Have to vote Democrat!

I have a humor post coming later, I promise, but first this.

EJ Dionne's column highlights the problem of right wing hypocrisy. Moral and family values are more than campaign slogans and those right wingers who now look to blame people other than Mark Foley and the Republican leadership should be ashamed of themselves.

Accountability. As The Anonymous Liberal points out, Republicans made it the hallmark of their 1994 Contract with America--that they would restore accountability. Anyone who thinks that Republicans have accomplished that probably need a reality check.

As I see it, Republicans have two choices. You can either reform your own party--meaning that you actually call your reps and senators when they do stupid and illegal stuff AND stop the President from undoing 900 hears of civilization

OR

You vote Democrat during this election. Not forever. And not without reservations. But we have to have some level of accountability in this system or it no longer works. Bush cannot have carte blanche to ignore laws as he sees fit. Bush cannot bamboozle the American people into two failed wars and then blame Democrats. Even my republican friends and family have to see that.

I would be more than happy to see you reform your own party. But you know that you promise to reform it and then never do, and who ends up walking the dog? er., or cleaning up Congress? We do. We do.

No, until you can prove that you can hold your leaders accountable, you are going to have to vote Democratic. Not because they are more moral. Far from it. Let me guarantee one thing. Democratic leaders will screw up. They will sexually harrass people. They will sleep with someone they shouldn't. They will date hookers and strippers. They will take advantage of the system to line their own pockets, and they will abuse their power.

That seems to be what separates me from my religious right colleagues. I know that people are vulnerable to the lure of power and corruption. I know they are flawed. I know that they are not there because God tapped them on the shoulder and tells them how to vote, but that they are there for a mix of motivations--some good and altruistic, some self-centered and proud.

That is why we have to hold them accountable too. And if you had held Delay, Hastert, Bush and Cheney accountable, we wouldn't need to have this talk.

Vote Democrat. Then maybe, just maybe, we can get back to arguing about how best to govern under our Constitutional government. Not with fear-mongering and gay-bashing. But about how to use government to make this country a better place.

23 comments:

Les Puryear said...

Streak,

Do you really believe that govenment can make this country a "better place"?

Regards,

Les

Streak said...

Of course it can, Les. Government can actually reduce poverty and crime. Government can protect workers and consumers.

If you mean, or took my post to mean, "can government make us more moral?" then maybe not. But we can attend to the basics of good government, and that can actually help. Government is about living together, and we have to find ways to do that.

I am not suggesting that government is the answer to all our problems--far from it. But we have seen clearly in the last 6 years that government sure can make things worse.

True?

Streak said...

Maybe I should ask you. What is the purpose of government?

Tony said that Bush's first 4 years were ok, from a conservative perspective. Tony, if you are reading, could you elaborate? Personally, I see no difference between the first four and last two--except the incompetence was more visible.

Les Puryear said...

Streak,

You'll have to forgive my foray into scripture about government, but Romans 13:1-7 basically says that government's role is to keep the peace. Now we can debate about whether or not George W is accomplishing that. :) But government's role is not to make my life good or bad. The purpose of my life and its living is not defined by government. I believe it's defined by the absence or existence of a personal relationship with Christ.

Psalm 127:1 reminds us, "Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." There's nothing secure about Homeland Security if God is not actively providing protection.

The Bible is clear in that we don't decide the leadership of our country; God does. God chose FDR, not us. God chose Ike, not us. God chose JFK, not us. God chose Nixon, not us. God chose Carter, not us. God chose Reagan, not us. Contrary to what some of my conservative friends want to believe, God chose Bill Clinton, not us. The same is true for George W. Bush.

You may rightfully ask, "If God does the choosing, then why vote?" We vote because we are the means through which God works His purposes.

An interesting sidelight to the passage in Romans 13 is that when Paul wrote it, the Emperor Nero was in power. This was the same Emperor Nero who had Paul executed and used Christians as human torches during his parties.

BTW, I personally haven't seen any impact on my life and the style to which I am accustomed to living in the last 20 years. I do remember the 16% mortgage loan I had in 1981 when Jimmy Carter was president. That was a personal impact.

Have you been personally impacted in the past 6 years? Maybe you have, but I can't say that I've seen any difference in my home and family circumstance since Reagan, the first Bush, Clinton, or Bush II. :)

Now a military family might quibble with my view and rightfully so. But I also think that a military family knows what it's getting into when it becomes a military family.

Just a few thoughts on a cold, wet Saturday in NC.

Regards,

Les

Streak said...

Les,

First, let me note that while Paul might be your favorite political philosopher, our government's sovereignty comes, not from the Bible, but from the people. So, Paul's take on the role of government is only peripherally relevant here.

Second, you say that the role is only to keep the peace. (And if you can name one thing--ONE THING--that Bush has done well, I would love to hear it--and I am serious there.) I am not sure what that means, but it sounds rather libertarian. That may be a legitimate political philosophy, but it strikes me as hard to justify from the Gospel. Let's think of the things that would be outside the government's role. Under your definition, corporations would be free to employ children in dangrous occupations. Hell, they would be free to use slave labor. To say nothing of any regulation to stop corporations from allowing employees to be injured or maimed (without recompense), or to serve us e-coli laden food without penalty.

Oddly enough, your definition of government would probably only allow laws that prohibit stealing and killing, but everything else would be on the table. No anti-drug laws, no sex laws (of any kind), and no restrictions on weaponry.

BTW, I never said that government was to address teh purpose of your life. I said that government can make things better, which was your question. Government can help peoples flooded by a hurricane (unless the government is run by GWB, and the people are predominately black).

Oh, and btw, Les, under your definition of government, civil rights would have never happened unless the African Americans started hurting the peace--you know, unlike the white Citizen's Councils run by people like Trent Lott and James Dobson's political right hand man, Tony Perkins. They would be allowed to harm the peace unfettered.

Yes, government can do good things. It is ridiculous to assert otherwise. And likewise, it is ridiculous (pardon my tone, I just watched OU lose) to assert that because government hasn't effected you personally, that it is not an issue of contention.

Now, for voting. I don't even know where to start. If God chooses our leaders, and we vote as a hand of God's choosing, then you should be completely pissed off that the Republicans thwarted the VERY HAND OF GOD in both Florida and Ohio to elect the idiot.

And, if our voting is just some extension of God's bidding, then I am suggesting that people wake up to the fact that the Republican party is dissassembling (no, George, not dissembling--though that too) our very democracy.

Oh, and btw. If God chose GWB to lead us, then shame on him. Or her. I don't care which. That was a STUPID ASS CHOICE. Why do you feel the need to blame that choice on God? Especially when so many stupid voters believed him when he said that he followed God and had compassion.

We are a democratic republic. We are not ruled by theocrats. We choose our leaders as flawed, biased, greedy, horny, sad, angry human beings. We don't choose our leaders because God taps our shoulder in teh booth and says, "Why not give the idiot from Texas a chance?" Not only that, but if your explanation holds, then it becomes meaningless. God ultimately works through is failed, flawed, fallen human beings to select everyone from the dog catcher to Bill Clinton. At what point does God's choice matter? Since he evidently goes with the majority, then isn't the majority (of the electrical college--Simpson joke) the issue.

As for being effected directly, I plead guilty. I am white, middle class, and well-educated. I too have not been harmed tremendously by Bush's policies. So, if that is the line, then I should be a Republican. Even though our standing in the world is at an all-time low, and good people like Marty's son are fighting for us in a failed war. I am fortunate, if you will. I don't have kids. My children will not be harmed by the worsening environment, nor called into service to allow the idiot to invade Iran, North Korea, (or Canada for all I know). My children will not have to pay higher property taxes, local fees, college tuition. My children will not suffer because Republicans have decided that the social contract only applies to the wealthy.

Sorry, Les. You caught me on a tired and long day. If you don't mind my rebuttal, I would love to hear your response.

Les Puryear said...

Streak,

Oh.

Never mind. :)

Les

Streak said...

What does that mean?

Streak said...

Did I not raise some good points? Or is it just unquestioned that God elects our leaders?

ANewAnglican@gmail.com said...

This should be a no-brainer, but I thought the purpose of government went something like this:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

Talk about a revolution!

And then a few years later:

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Or does that not count anymore?

Les Puryear said...

Streak,

You asked, "What does that mean?".

Didn't you ever see Rosanne Rosannadanna (Gilda Radner) on "Saturday Night Live" in the 1970s?

Regards,

Les

Streak said...

Ok, Les. See, you asked me about the role of government. I responded. You told me that God ordains all of it and that we don't actually vote, God does. I called you on that.

Or maybe I just don't get the joke. I remember the skit, but it has been a while.

Or maybe I am lacking humor lately. My post was actually quite serious. Without accountability (I was actually taught accountability growing up baptist, btw) this President has bypassed the constitution and taken us to wars he didn't actually intend to win. Anglican's point is pretty apt here. Our system is built on a social contract that has served us relatively well for a long time.

P.M. Prescott said...

Les, check your presidential election years. Reagan was elected in Nov. of 1980, and took office in 1981. Those high interest rates affected me too, but it's the Federal Reserve Board that sets them not the President. A little fact checking might make your arguments more lucid.
Your argument is the traditional one made by your party. It's Okay if it's a Republican.
Adalai Stephenson wasn't fit to be President because he was divorced. Not a word about Ronald Reagan.
Former VP Nelson Rockefeller dies in the arms of a hooker, not a word, but they impeach Clinton for having a groupie.
I could go on and on about the Grand Old Hypocrites.

Streak said...

Les can defend himself here, but to be fair to him, he has not been a big Bush apologist. If anything, he sounds more like someone who would agree that the Religious Right has erred in assuming that government can achieve their spiritual goals.

I agree with that, but think that there is also an anti-government message there that simply avoids all the necessary and potentially good things that we can do together as a people.

Tony said...

I’ll be glad to elaborate. Something I have recently discovered, and it may be something everyone else has noticed and I am just now catching on, is that Republican seems to have become a synonym for Christian. And many conservative Christian leaders support the Republican Party carte blanche, regardless of any shortcomings that the Republicans have. They are quite willing to overlook those—even when they are the same ones Democrats have yet are unwilling to allow any grace where they are concerned.

Though I think I am woefully unqualified to be a political analyst and I will confess much naiveté when it comes to all things political, I will try to elaborate on my comment from another post. Why have I grown disenchanted with Bush? Several reasons.

I was all for Governor Bush in the 2000 election. I knew he was a man of faith and he supported traditional Christian values. I think he handled 9/11 admirably; as good as any president probably could have. However, in his follow-up response is where I started to lose my regard.

I bought the fact that he wasn’t trying to fight his daddy’s war. I understand and agree that if the war on terror was to be won, it must start at the nerve center or terror, presumably Iraq. However, the war has been all but a failure. It has become a distraction from the real war on terror and has motivated that much more terror rather than assuage it.

A working democracy is still not really established in Iraq. Soldiers, even though the “war” is over, are still dying. Not one detainee has been tried. The threat of tyranny is still there. No WMD’s were ever found. And what of Saddam? Living off the US. But now, for America to pull out of Iraq would mean we would have a lot of egg to wipe off our faces, egg President Bush I don’t believe is willing to wipe off. Rob Shearer said that as history repeats itself the first time is the tragedy, if allowed to happen a second time it is a farce. Vietnam was the tragedy; Iraq is the farce.

New Orleans was and still is a disaster. There are still families living in FEMA trailers without running water…and its over a year later! Granted, much of the response to Katrina lies at Nagin’s feet. Yet the federal government was woefully slow in responding as was FEMA. Does race have anything to do with it? Honestly I don’t know and I legitimately hope not. It looks like that issue is essentially their word against his.

Plus this whole torture thing has really gotten me irritated. The bottom line is they have resorted to situational ethics. As long as it gets the US what they need (or want) then they can do whatever they want to the detainees as long as it does not cause “organ failure or death.” The President can basically override Congress, throw habeas corpus out the window, and suffer no redress at all whatsoever? I have heard so many of my Christian brothers express that as long as it is protecting our country, then the government should have the freedom to use any means necessary. Situation ethics…utilitarianism…greater good arguments…This is a question I would like to have answered: Is faith suspended in the interrogation chamber?

Are sexual sins the only sins that prick the ears of conservative Christians anymore? What about power-mongering, greed, manipulation, arrogance, and placing yourself beyond accountability?

I for one am tired of the “celebrity status” conservative Christians doing all the talking. Not too long ago, Dr. Falwell said that nothing would motivate “his” constituency more than if Hillary Clinton ran in 2008 and even the devil wouldn’t get us out more so than if she ran. (Since when does Dr. Falwell have a constituency anyway? Seems to be a contradiction of terms to me.)

I don’t agree with most of Senator Clinton’s views, but neither do I intend to demonize her. Then a week later Dr. Falwell comes back and says, “Oh I was just joking, why can’t these Democrats take a joke?” This is what I am talking about; beyond redress. If Falwell is a man of God, shouldn’t he know Ephesians 4:29? I wish there was a conservative Christian out there somewhere with the chutzpah enough to stand up and say that these things are not right.

Like I said…I am not a political analyst and I probably have just stepped in a hole I cannot get out of, but there you go. Plus I know many of my views are politically naive, and I apologize for that. Thanks for listening.

Sincerely,
Tony

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Streak and all,

Very good article!

Want to better understand some of the desperation among Christian politicos? Follow the links and read about who I am and what I have to say. Notice that my last name is Page? Think this "page" scandal is a mere coincidence? The timing and ramifications are much worse than most realize yet.

If Christian political leaders are going to go around attacking others for not living up to their professed values, it's a damn good idea to be truthful and actually walk the walk. Logs and motes in the eye, camels through the eye of a needle, glass houses, kettles and pots, and what goes around comes around, et al. Karma's a bitch when She finally decides enough is enough! This wouldn't have been so bad on Republicans if they hadn't been such arrogant hypocrites in order to corner the so-called values voters! Now the Two Candlesticks and Two Witnesses (Truth and Justice) are "breathing fire" and "raining hailstones!"

Christian Political Leadership, Hypocrisy, Duplicity, and Purposeful Evil

The current scandal involving Congressman Foley is merely the latest in an amazingly long list of blatant deception and duplicity by Republicans and the Christian Right in recent years. While bedeviling us all with their holier-than-thou pretenses, they consistently support and/or perform blatant greed and abominable evil. Never forget the extent of their arrogance over the last two decades and especially the last 6 years. It is beyond amazing that Christians continue to blindly support such obviously blatant scoundrels, even as they are repeatedly exposed going against the most basic of human values. The level of hypocrisy and duplicity boggles the mind. There is no longer any doubt, whatsoever, that Christianity is little more than a purposeful deception used by political and religious leaders to dupe, manipulate, and coerce entire populations into giving them wealth and power, which they always use for greed, injustice, and abominable evils.

The actions of Foley and those who covered up for him directly parallel the actions of scores of priests that have raped innocent children, preyed upon others for centuries, and had their actions hidden and abetted by the Vatican. Now, in eerie repetition of Vatican history, we have a power hungry Christian Emperor (GW) working closely with the Vatican and Judeo-Christian aristocrats to lead crusades in the so-called Holy Land. Furthermore, to leave little doubt about the reality of this assessment, the USA, as the new Holy Roman Empire, is about to legalize the torture it has perpetrated in recent years while steadily reversing many of the democratic and civil freedoms that people gained when the Vatican and royalty lost control of their European empire at the turn of the nineteenth century. Now we see them following the same old path of evil as they strive to cement the status of the USA as the latest proxy Vatican empire. Make no mistake about it, the new dark ages are looming on the horizon unless we do something proactive to prevent it.

Remember that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it!

Read More:
Here is Wisdom !!

Peace...

ubub said...

Free Will allows us to select our leaders, intercessory prayer helps helps us to cope with them.

Streak said...

Tony,

Thanks for elaborating. I like this line the most: Is faith suspended in the interrogation chamber? Obviously, I share your frustration about accountability, and we are in complete agreement on the, (how did you refer to them?) "celebrity status" Christians. The same thing that vexes our media--celebrity talking heads like Blitzer and Russert--also causes problems for Conservative christians.

Now for bush. Did you see a difference in faith between Bush and Clinton? Or Bush and Gore? Both Gore and Clinton are Baptists, after all. What about Bush spoke authenticity on the issue of faith?

I am really asking because I don't understand it. Just as I don't really understand how bush's response to 9-11 merits that much respect--though I am pretty jaded on the man, admittedly. Besides standing on the rubble with the bullhorn, he fought the 9-11 commission then tried to pack it with watergate people. sigh.

The other issue that I think screws us up is that while Iraq is now perhaps the center of the war on terror, it wasn't before we invaded. Afghanistan was, and for some still is. As Bill Clinton pointed out, this administration thinks that Afghanistan is 1/7th as important even though people are convinced that Bin Laden is there.

Anyway, thanks for playing, Tony. You are always welcome here.

Tony said...

You are right...he was the one standing on the rubble with the bullhorn, but would that not have been any other president as well? And we are on common ground that Iraq is not about terror.

I think his response to the tragedy of 9/11 displayed real emotion and heartfelt sympathy for the thousands of families affected. However, he has shown very little emotion since. I guess what I am hitting on is the authenticity of his faith. I cannot judge the man, nor do I intend to, based on his belief system.

As far as his faith is concerned, President Bush's faith was reckoned as legendary, the spin played by the religious right as they slovenly compared him to President Clinton. And of course you have the books lining Christian bookstore shelves about his faith. I was even given one of those books for Christmas a few years ago but I haven't read it. So his faith was elevated I think above his political and leadership prowess to garner right wing votes. And I don't think Bush is a stupid man academically; you cannot get out of Harvard w/o the grades.

But who wouldn't vote for a man with that much faith, as the media proclaims? And he used that and still does. Of course there was once a president who played his sax on MTV, garnering a plethora of new votes, votes that would not have otherwise been cast, which the elder Bush refused to go on MTV. So its about tit for tat.

Any differences between Bush/Gore/Clinton based on faith? Honestly, I have seen media covergage of each one of them in church or at a service of some description. So without speaking to each one of them personally I cannot tell. Maybe O'Reilly will get that chance, I know I won't (and I say that tongue planted firmly-in-cheek, O'Reilly irritates me as much as he does you, Streak). But the way their tenures have played out; bottom line, probably not much difference at all.

I think that the environmentalists are not the only difficult lobbying group to have to deal with on Capitol Hill.

Streak said...

Tony,

I think you are right in that the faith issue was marketed and sold. I saw those books on Bush's putative faith. I asked my friends and on this blog for some evidence (beyond lip service) of Bush acting Christ like. I never received any.

I see your point on Clinton on MTV, but I am not sure we can equate that to selling a person's faith. Acting hip is one thing--more like Bush selling himself as "everyman." But selling faith to the faithful is, in my book, more cynical and more problematic.

I asked the question about Bush/Clinton/Gore and don't really have an answer myself. How do any of us know how these famous men actually believe in their heart. We can look at the fruit, I guess, and for Clinton/Gore the record is mixed. Obvious failures in the personal moral sense for Bill, but policies that have more compassion. I would also suggest that for all his problems, Clinton actually tried to reach out to conservatives in a way that Bush has NEVER done to liberals. If you will forgive the image, Bush took the oath of office with one hand on the bible (winking, or smirking all the while) and his other hand flipping the bird to me and every other liberal/progressive/moderate who voted against him. Sigh.

I have no problem with people of faith in office. But I do resent them using their faith as just another focus group marketing tool. Samuel Johnson said that "patriotism was the last refuge of a scoundrel" but that could easily be updated to Christian faith (witness Tom Delay saying that he hoped that people would see Christ in his mugshot). And that is sad.

Wasp Jerky said...

Taken to its logical conclusion, the belief that God chooses our elected officials becomes a little problematic. On some level that means that God is to blame for the murder of six million Jews in Europe. It also makes God a bit of an asshole.

Judging by the Old Testament, government also seems to be about more than keeping the peace.

Tony said...

I do resent them using their faith as just another focus group marketing tool.

So do I.

Les Puryear said...

Streak and others,

I always enjoy our little repartee here. :) Although we don't all share the same ideologies, it appears that we can disagree agreeably.

Streak,

I agree with most of what Tony has posted so I feel no need to add to what he's already said.

I would like to address one point, though. You said that I said God ordains it all and that we don't actually vote. Partially right. I believe my point was that God ordains who rules and that we, meaning our votes, are the means through which He accomplishes His purpose.

Thanks for coming to my defense. You have accurately reflected my point of view.

BTW, you do make some very good points. :)

Prescott,

Of course, you're right and I'm wrong on my dates. Thanks for the correction. But hey, I'm over 50...I'm entering the beginning stages of dementia...So sue me. :)

Also, I do believe I said that Bill Clinton was part of God's decree as well. My rowdy Republican friends would tar and feather me for saying that. :)

Many regards,

Les

Streak said...

I believe my point was that God ordains who rules and that we, meaning our votes, are the means through which He accomplishes His purpose.

I understand Les, but don't. That sounds like whatever happens is what God wanted to happen, and if true, it has very little meaning. According to reports after the Florida "hanging chad" debacle, had the state-wide recount occurred, Gore would have won. Does that mean that God's purpose included this? Or in Ohio, where there is evidence that Blackwell (now Republican candidate for governor) fixed the election in Republican districts. If that happened, how does that fit into your view?

How does this fit with "free will?"