It is time again for what I call my quadrennial ulcer, when I’m reminded that the whole one-person-one-vote-thing might not have been such a great idea. Living on the buckle of the bible belt I hear most of my neighbors express their reasons for their presidential choice, which run the gamut from “He’s pro-life” to “I’d like to drink a beer with him and he’s pro-life.” Basically, most of these folks have been evangelical Christian Republicans their whole lives, so their presidential choice was decided by their grandfathers and all they have to do is rationalize why they made the same choice as every other election.
I’m just the opposite. I go to Google News so I can read articles from both liberal and conservative sources. I check Factcheck.org and Politifact.com regularly as well as sites where I can check voting records and who’s donating to whom. However, I could probably just vote for whoever runs against my neighbors’ choice.
The trouble is the Republicans keep lying. Not that the Dems haven’t done a little truth stretching themselves, but they’re still rank amateurs compared to the Elephant-men. The GOP’s biggest, brashest, most painted-on-the-barn-in-neon-paint lie is that the GOP is the party of change. The people who lied to get us into a war, turned the country’s biggest surplus into its biggest deficit, who helped Exxon make record profits, OK’ed the torture of every Muslim in the world, ran roughshod over the Constitution they were sworn to protect, increased the income gap between the rich and poor, and deregulated the loan industry so as to cause huge numbers of home foreclosures and the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression (just to name a few examples) are now the “Party of Change.” Do they think they’ve screwed up the country so much that anything they do now is bound to be an improvement?
John McCain repeatedly reminds everybody that he’s been called a maverick, but he doesn’t mention that they haven’t called him that recently. In the last couple of years he has reversed himself on just about every stand he has ever taken and kissed up to every conservative group he can find. At least it’s true in one sense that he’s the candidate of change. Unfortunately he’s changed from a maverick to a George W. Bush clone. Who would ever vote for this guy? My neighbors would.
Don’t get me wrong, the people that live around me are the nicest, most generous and big hearted people I’ve ever known, and I would do almost anything for them, as they would for me. They are just kinda naïve and unsophisticated. They’ve never met a gay couple or a Buddhist or experienced the other cultures and beliefs that don’t show up in the heart of Ohio. They also believe that the pastors of their Fundie churches are direct conduits to god and should always be believed.
The pastors take advantage of their privileged status to dictate politics from the pulpit under the implied threat of eternal damnation, and this weekend they are intentionally testing the IRS’s rules that would take away their tax-exempt status for being political. In addition, I saw this morning that a group of clerics has joined forces to come out against a couple of issues on the state ballot (you can read about it here: http://www.nbc4i.com/midwest/cmh/politics.apx.-content-articles-CMH-2008-09-25-0013.html). I don’t always disagree with the clergy on these issues, in fact, I definitely will vote with the clergy on these issues because the people who benefit most from voting the other way are pond scum. But that’s not the point. The pastor’s job is to tend to the moral guidance of his or her own flock and then it’s up to the individuals to determine what candidates and issues best fit their morals.
In the last two election cycles I was told of ministers who actually told parishioners from the pulpit that they either vote for W or face eternity on the devil’s rotisserie, and we all know how well that turned out. A large Baptist church in the area even invited Bill O’Riley and a couple of other famous right wing pundits to speak at their church one Sunday. The fact that they weren’t all struck dead on the spot is further proof there is no god. It prompted me to say that pro-lifers would vote for Satan if he said he was anti-abortion. Maybe they already did.
Anyway, all the above is really just to say that it’s each voter’s responsibility to get all of the facts before voting for one of the most powerful leaders in the world. It’s not as if we lived 150 years ago when all of our information would have come from a few very biased newspapers; now we have a bazillion websites, radios, and TVs (which, in spite of assertions to the contrary, can be switched from Faux News to real fairer and balanceder news sources).