Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Thoughts on the American Election

There's a lot that can be said about the current state of things and the presidential election in the United States. I don't know all of the issues' details, nor am I an expert. But overall I do find myself growing more and more morally uncomfortable with all sides.

Let's start with the Republican party. They used fear, strong-arming, manipulation and flat-out deception in order to start the second Iraq war. Not only did they use these weapons against other countries (in bullying them into support), but they used these things against the people of the United States. And in that case it worked. Bush was re-elected. But in the world (I live in Japan), we saw things more clearly from the very beginning. I can't forget reading a report in late 2002 of how the administration was already handing out contracts to rebuild oil fields in Iraq -- long before the war even started or before the "UN security council resolutions" were done. I've only heard one Christian minister (Paul Cain) who spelled it out clearly from the pulpit -- "Our leaders are lying to us... We wanted to go to war." The result has been not only the abuse of people at home, but the abuse of people & relationships in the world. Instead of making America & the world safer, the Republican party has given the world new grounds for loathing America. The ends do not justify the means. A friend had a quote on her Facebook profile that sums up the web we are weaving: "What you convert a person WITH is what you convert them TO." This goes for everything - religion, business, politics, and "nation-building".

Out of personal disgust at the lies and lack of morality in the Republican party, I joined the Democratic party during the 2004 election and voted for John Kerry. Now the Democratic party has nominated Barack Obama. And at the beginning of his campaign, I felt a lot better. He spoke of hope. He didn't criticize very much. He seemed intelligent, able to look past popular notions -- things like "war on terror" as if terrorism were a nation that could be fought and beaten and not an ideology (or rather, a method of channeling frustration).

But as the Democratic nomination campaign began to wind down and Obama shifted his sights from Clinton to McCain, he began swinging with the trends. I also began to hear more things that sounded just like bad policies... mistaken energy/fuel sources, certain ways of dealing with trade with other nations, etc. And of course in order to win Jewish voters, he would have to declare support for Israel instead of calling it out on its bad moves.

I'm afraid that in order to win voters, Obama is compromising his radicalness. He has a real potential to be something different, something that can inspire and truly change. But in order to get in office and maintain support, I fear he's losing what inspired us in the first place. His strength is in his ability to daringly go out on a limb, call us to think more instead of wave signs, and inspire us take risks. He's got the orator's ability to actually educate his listeners instead of merely getting them to "give support". And Lord knows, after eight years of Republican/Bush-ism, the nation is in desperate need of re-education. In short, I think Obama is trying to win support and is trodding too carefully in order to get it. Nietzche (in his atheism, depression and syphillis) said that it's best to be careful when fighting a dragon that you too do not become a dragon yourself. In fighting the political machine, I think Obama might lose his "soul".

It's a difficult choice, and as the days go on, I find myself wanting to not be trapped into choosing between one side or the other. Perhaps I can only feel comfortable with praying.

Morally I could not support the Republican party. Sarah Palin was a genius pick by McCain (or his advisors) and supplies all the charisma that McCain himself sorely lacks. She's got a compelling family story and made the extremely honorable decision to bear a child even though she knew it would have down syndrome. In certain senses she seems to represent what is good about Christian America. But she also represents the most frightening blind-spot of Christian America -- its self-righteous blindness, propaganda, deception, and continual wounding of the people God gave His Son to save. Her image came crumbling down to me after I read that she said of the Iraq war, "Our national leaders are sending [soldiers] out on a task that is from God." (See this link)

As I think of the Iraq situation, even if the situation "improves" there (mind you, part of that "improvement" means they want Americans gone as soon as possible), the war was still built on lies, deception, propaganda, and at the cost of countless lives. Make no mistake, we'll be picking up the pieces of this painful mess in the future. I love the country of America and I love its people, but I can't say we've always done right in the world. Our people throught history have been suckers for "righteous causes" presented to us by the propaganda of our beloved leaders. Because we haven't had to clean up after one of our wars (or our policies, or our support of "friendly goverments" which have often been tyrants), we don't know the damage we've done abroad. Ted Rall wrote an article criticizing Obama in which he said what Christian prophets have been too blind (or too shy) to say -- that Jeremiah Wright was not completely wrong. Yes, his rhetoric was laced with anger and paranoid suspicions, but he was right that some of America's foreign-offense "chickens" are simply coming home to roost. (See this link)

Morally I have misgivings about Democrats' support of abortion. Obama and Biden called it a "religious" decision, but then I wonder, if you were three months pregnant and someone punched you in the stomach and your "fetus" died because of it, wouldn't you rightly and justly be upset? Wouldn't the person who attacked you be guilty of murdering your child? We have a great responsibility to make better social progress in helping people with alternatives to abortion. But no matter how bad we fail at that, the fact that abortion is murder does not change. (And yes, for Christianity, if one believes the Bible there is just no way at all to find any support for abortion.)

So on one side we have people (Democrats) that support the murder of unborn children. On the other side we have people (Republicans) who support manipulation, deception, and the sending of adults to the other side of the world to be killed in order to gain oil fields and richer trade. Support one party, people are murdered in the womb. Support the other and the nation remains deceived, the world rightly offended, and cycles of violence and retribution are strengthened instead of resolved. Should people die in the womb or abroad? What a choice!

At the beginning of June I wrote these thoughts to a friend:

I was reading an article called "Obama goes against McCain after historic win over Clinton" by Stephen Collinson (AFP) and was struck by a sentence. I'll share my rambling with you about it because somehow I think you'll understand:

"On November 4, voters must pick between Obama, 46, a freshman senator and charismatic mixed-race standard-bearer of a new political generation, and McCain, 71, a wounded Vietnam war hero asking for one final call to service."

This sentence strikes me... it really does say it all, almost. I think (and pray) Obama may be able to see with the eyes of an outsider, the eyes of someone who has been abroad and heard the voice of the poor and disenfranchised. I think he has seen the good and the great of America, but he as also seen some of the wounds, the pains, the things that the patriots are unable to see, and often unwilling to see for fear of feeling like they were betraying their beloved.

McCain is a "wounded" Vietnam vet -- all of America (particularly the vets) were wounded by that war, a war waged sadly because of mistaken ideas, waged for a mistaken choice of sides, and plowed through for the sake of "endurance" rather than admitting the obvious and humbly correcting the error at the cost of personal image and pride. McCain is this America, calling for "one final call to service", believing in the establishment, believing patriotically, but sadly blinded to the very thing that wounded him. Not the Vietcong or North Vietnamese, but the politcial establishment that sent him there (I weep in the Spirit as I write this, Oh Lord!!!!), which he is unable to fully recognize, as are many patriotic Americans with him.

As an aside, I'll share with you something else. I disagree with "abortion" and it's the one big sticking-point I have with Obama and most Democrats (I registered as a Democrat [having previously proudly "declined to join a political party"] before the 2004 election out of outrage/protest about the second Iraq war). During a prayer time when I felt like Obama would be the next president, I took the issue of abortion before Jesus and felt Him tell me to pray about it, to pray that Obama has a change of heart about it, that he sees and understands what it means to You, Lord, what they mean to You, Lord.

I pray that his heart will change in office, and that America will go with him (Obama), and with Him (Jesus). I don't want to say it will happen or even think that way, but I want to pray it, you know? I want to pray for it. For him. For the change. Reading in a Bible I picked up recently, I was met with some encouragement under the story of Nebuchadnezzar in a note that said, "The king's change of heart is encouragement to intercede 'for kings and all who are in authority' (1 Ti 2:2)." I would love to pray for Christians to raise up in intercession for his change of heart rather than writing him off as the antichrist.

For now I still hope that Obama wins. I am having trouble bringing myself to go through the trouble of sending away for the absentee ballot to vote for him, though, particularly as he seems to lose his "soul" day by day. And I could only support McCain-Palin if they had the courage to do the only moral thing, which is also the most pride-swalling thing of all: to admit to the world that America was wrong in the way it began the Iraq war and bullied nations, apologize, ask for forgiveness, and ask for international help to stabilize the country. I don't think either side is prepared to do that. I think if Obama finds his soul, he could lead America into better educated thinking and perhaps get close to this, to what needs to be done and is most moral of all. But to do so would be very politically risky -- perhaps political suicide.

As I thought about the election the other night and my growing doubts about Obama (mind you, I want to believe him), in my heart I chose to put America into God's hands. I need to recognize that my home country is not my ultimate home. My citizenship is not here. That doesn't mean that I shouldn't try to change things and help in the best ways possible---or even die trying, as did the prophet Martin Luther King Jr. But with the current situation, suddenly I see no good options that I can be comfortable with. My responsibility is to pray and follow His leading.

Now I live in Japan. I have this nation before me, these people. America is becoming more "foreign" to me. It's actually a good thing to finally be able to begin looking at America as a nation, not as The Nation. America is still very short-sighted, looking only at her own shores and herself as the center of the world. I'm learning to see differently. Still getting my education.


  • At October 15, 2008 6:29 AM, Anonymous honestwitness said…

    Hi, Ramone! Honestwitness, here. I haven't read your entire post, and may not have time to do so. However, I just wanted to share with you that I am a one-issue voter. If we can't get the issue of the value of a helpless human life right, the rest just doesn't matter. No one sends soldiers into battle without arming them. But the unborn have no defenses whatsoever against assault.

  • At October 15, 2008 9:14 AM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Hi HW,

    How I wish I could agree! How I wish "the rest" did not matter! But the rest does matter. A whole nation was deceived, a vast majority of the church deceived and manipulated into wielding the sword against a nation and offending the name of Christ among the nations. "The name of God is blasphemed among the nations" because of how the church has attached God's name to a war started under false pretenses.

    There are people in high places who are serving idols in their hearts of greed, power, control, the military industrial complex (as Eisenhower put it), and the oil industry. They did not hesitate to use propaganda to sway the people of the United States. They did not hesitate to use propaganda to sway the Church in the United States. They did not hesitate to sacrifice all these lives (in the war) in order to attain what they wanted.

    Again, one group does not recognize the "life" of the unborn, but the other group sacrifices lives, manipulates and deceives nations & churches to gain power, control and money.

    Sacrifices lives. Think about that. What kind of blackened heart cares about a nation so little that they lie to them, try to make them feel afraid, trick them into going into war, and then tries to keep them "staying the course" so that their own (the leaders') profits will not fall through? What kind of a blackened heart undertakes such a path for its own greed, and uses God's name to accomplish it, deceiving the church and using words that they know will sway honest Christians? What kind of blackened heart deceives and sacrifices all of these lives with no fear of God?

    I wrote more about this here: Outsourcing the Truth

    And I've got to write some things that I understood during prayer, too. The are two pictures, as well, which go with what we're talking about here. And if you email me, I can share more as well.

    I should make it clear (as I will when I finally get one of those pictures up) that I'm not primarily concerned with the person of President Bush, or with the coming election. The heart that is behind the faces, that is pulling their strings... that is the most worrysome thing. I don't know whether Bush or Cheney is the mastermind or prime-mover in what has been done. It doesn't matter. There is someone or some people that enacted this from the top. And the coming election won't change very many things. To get the Republican party out of power will only do so much. The biggest problem is that the church remains deceived and blinded by thinking she is politically righteous, when in fact she has moved herself into such actions that ask for divine judgment.

  • At October 20, 2008 12:15 AM, Blogger Ramone said…

    Hi HW,

    I just ran across this article about Catholics' views, which sums up the growing responsibility many of them feel about other issues besides abortion.

    How Catholics Are Judging Obama and the Democrats


    In early October, Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton released a letter to be read in every pulpit in the diocese that said, in part: "Abortion is the issue this year and every year in every campaign. [Catholics] are wrong when they assert that abortion is only one of a multitude of issues of equal importance. Abortion must take precedence over every other issue." But just last fall, the American bishops released Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility, a document that reminded Catholics that "all life issues are connected." Over the past few years, archbishops around the country have spoken out in favor of immigration reform, opposing the use of torture, and advocating policies that focus more on the poor.

    "As a result, many Catholics can now argue that neither party fits precisely with Catholic social teaching - the Democratic position on abortion is still unacceptable but so are GOP positions on education and health care and the war in Iraq..."


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