I mentioned this post of Charlie’s earlier this week. I think this post raises something that is certainly (or should be) an issue with American Christians.
His values overlap with my own more than any other major candidate I’ve seen in my lifetime.
I really hope that Barack is elected president.
But I won’t be voting for him. I won’t be voting for him because I am tempted to really believe in him. I am tempted to put hope in Barack Obama. And it’s no mistake that Obama’s campaign has seized on this.
My question here is this: Is the act of voting an act of ceding to appeals to a nationalism that , out of “political correctness” and fears of being perceived as “mixing” faith and politics, seems to place nationalism on the highest ground?
(note: Charlie isn’t voting at all, since Obama WOULD have been his choice)
Or is voting , despite what many make of it, simply an expression of preference. As eloquently as Barack expresses it, he is still way too “pious” for my tastes when it comes to the virtues and ideals of “America”. In a speech recently, he mentioned Native Americans along with other oppressed minorities as deserving of a “piece of the American dream”, but then , just a few sentences later, praised the courage of the “pioneers” in the move West, which is an unfortunate association, since the move Westward was also a massive, forceful displacement and “relocation” of Native Americans, many of whom were already living in their second or third “displacement”, only to have the treaties ignored or explained away.
So the “American story” is, for me and many others, a story that needs massive deconstructing (and “relocation” if you will) if it is to maintain any sense of legitimacy and take its place BENEATH the Kingdom of God as the primary story for American Christians.
But for me, it is a matter of giving my consent to also deconstruct the disastrous directions and decisions of the Bush administration, which has been the most unapologetically corporate and elitist and economically destabilizing regime in American history. A non-vote for me seems too much like a proxy vote that says “this hasn’t been too bad…..keep the status quo”. Just because the devotions of some seem ill-placed doesn’t mean that I feel my vote has to have some deeper meaning. It simply means that I, in general, vote for a repudiation of what has been in place.
Charlie eloquently expresses the core issue here, but I come out at the end with a different response for many of the same reasons, but simply adding the element of “vote” not so much as joining a “movement” (even though I find more to hold up in this one than I have for any other in quite some time), but simply adding another tally to what I hope will be a resounding “get the hell out of here” to the criminals in office right now, whose greed and poison has infected the whole house. These kind need to be quarantined, identified, repudiated, and stripped of their power over people by exposing their tricks and thus raising a red flag whenever their “favorite” talking points raise their ugly heads. But this can also, and should, also help us to better identify how talking points work, also from the left.
I must admit that when I first read Charlie’s post, I felt I wasn’t going to vote either. Charlie’s argument convinced me. But only as I went through the above steps did I decide that while Charlie is absolutely correct about his distance from the idea of “believing in Obama” or the “change you can believe in”, and that Christians ought to be more “detached” from such misplaced allegiance, we also can “utilize” the vote for reasons that fall short of something that can be be articulated by something so “theological” as “hope”.