Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jessica makes her case

A while back I had an idea. I thought it would be interesting to hear from a Christian that's supporting McCain and one that's supporting Obama. I tried to find two people of roughly the same age, church affiliation, background, etc. to make the positive case for their candidate without trashing the other. I tried for two weeks to find a McCain supporter with the time or inclination to participate, but I wasn't successful. Soooo, though I'd prefer to have both sides represented, I think my sister in Christ who took the time to write this essay deserves to be heard. Without further ado here's Jessica making the case for Barack Obama.


Thanks again for asking me to share my views on Senator Obama. I am writing this in a period of campaign “disenchantment,” and let me explain why. One, I have grown tired of the campaign – and have moved past my “honeymoon phase” with Obama – having followed it obsessively since the primaries began. Two, I have grown tired of the low point to which the campaign has sunk. I hope that Obama will rise above the lies and attacks (although I know he needs to confront them) to square himself back on the issues. And three, I have grown tired of having to defend my faith while defending my support of Obama.

Recently, a McCain supporter sputtered the following question at me in disbelief: “But…as a Christian…you don’t have any problem supporting Obama?” My answer then, and my answer now, is no. I am a registered Democrat, but I don’t consider myself to be blue or red. Yes, you can follow Jesus and not vote for a Republican. Based on what I have seen and read in the news, neither party perfectly mirrors the Christian faith. Let it be known that my hope is found in the Kingdom, and not in a president, a party, or a country.

Let me begin by saying that Obama has almost single-handedly invigorated a level of interest in politics like I have never seen before. Some call him a dreamer, an idealist…but I like that. One of the most refreshing things for me about Obama is that he hasn’t been in Washington for decades, like Senator McCain. (Even the McCain campaign has cited this as a plus for Governor Palin.) I am not overly concerned with experience, an argument that has been going back and forth since Clinton was in the race, and has again been revived with the introduction of Palin.

Consider the following point from Nicholas Kristof from the New York Times: “It might seem obvious that long service in Washington is the best preparation for the White House, but on the contrary, one lesson of American history is that length of experience in national politics is an extremely poor predictor of presidential success. Looking at the 19 presidents since 1900, three of the greatest were among those with the fewest years in electoral politics. Teddy Roosevelt had been a governor for two years and vice president for six months; Woodrow Wilson, a governor for just two years; and Franklin Roosevelt, a governor for four years. None ever served in Congress.”

Some would argue that the Bush administration has been one of the most experienced administrations in this nation's history, but they've dug us into a deep, dark hole. For me, qualification trumps experience. I would prefer to have a president with judgment, insight, character, and competence over one with lots of experience and nothing else. One great example of Obama’s sound judgment is this: He is the only candidate who originally voted against the Iraq war. He realized that it was a distraction from the real focus – Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan – and that there was no reasonable basis for invading that country.

If Obama's primary campaign is any indication of how effectively he will run the White House, he gets my vote twice over. He ran an intelligent, strategic, and efficient primary campaign. He has raised historical amounts of money, and has not gone into debt. This, by the way, is the polar opposite of President Bush’s spending habits, and a sore point for Senator Clinton, who had to loan herself $5 million to continue campaigning. This guy is smart – on many levels – and it shows in the way he campaigns, raises money at record levels, and has inspired average citizens to get involved in this election process.

In a time when President Bush and Americans in general are sorely disliked around the world, I want a president who will work to heal our relationships with other countries and restore our image overseas. According to a BBC World Service poll, 22,000 people in 22 countries were polled to find out who they would prefer as our next president. All 22 countries preferred Obama over McCain. In addition to Obama’s own culturally diverse heritage, he has lived overseas, which means he has real cross-cultural experience to bring to the table. Again, I quote Kristof: “Our most serious mistakes in foreign policy, from Vietnam to Iraq, have been a blindness to other people’s nationalism and an inability to see ourselves as others see us. Mr. Obama seems to have absorbed an intuitive sensitivity to that problem. For starters, he understood back in 2002 that American troops would not be greeted in Iraq with flowers.”

I appreciate that Obama wants to talk with leaders from other countries – yes, even enemies – and not ignore them. He wants to talk and not just blindly and stubbornly exercise military power. A friend of mine once reflected, "Because of his background, family and extensive travel, Obama offers us an opportunity to build bridges with the international community that our current president has laughed at and burned. In a global, increasingly fragile economy, we need those bridges."

On the same note, I also want a president who will work to heal divisions within this country. Obama has an enormous cross-party appeal that I haven’t seen with other candidates. A few months ago, after he finished a speech aired on C-SPAN, the network opened its phone lines to callers. It had three numbers to call, one for each major party (Democrat, Republican, and Independent). I was stunned that almost all of the Republican and Independent callers didn’t call in to tear Obama apart, but to express their support for him. One man said that he had voted Republican all his life, but would be voting for Obama in November. It says something when a political figure can appeal so strongly to people from other parties.

Regarding his character, Obama strikes me as being as grounded and real as you can get – not to mention eloquent, classy, inspiring, and even-tempered. The “elitist” argument going around has no credibility for me. He was raised by a single mother and his grandparents, his father wasn’t in the picture, and he just paid off his college loans two years ago. His life story is one with which many in this country can relate. On the flip side, I don’t think McCain really gets where most Americans are in life because he is in a completely different category. There is nothing wrong with wealth, but it is a bit alarming when you can’t remember how many houses you own.

God wants us to love him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. I believe he wants us to examine all the facts, ignore the smears, and dig for the truth. After months of scrutinizing the campaign, the debates, the conventions, and the commentary; visiting factcheck.org to debunk rumors; and reading Obama’s “Blueprint for Change” that outlines his plan and his record, I have made what I believe to be a thoughtful and intelligent choice. I look forward to seeing Senator Obama become President Obama after the general election is over!


redeyespy said...

Count this as another vote for Obama from someone who loves Jesus. I too, get astonished responses when I tell other Christians this. It usually comes down to one or two issues not raised here, and that's a shame.

As Christains we are called to care for the poor and despite many blessed organizations like Food For the Poor and Urban Youth Impact, Christians as a whole have done a very poor job. The lack of accountability and concern for the economy is definitely coming to roost. Next up, health care. Later, the environment.

One thing that would bode well for all voters is to look beyond the propaganda. Beware sources that are single-mindedly partisan ("Barack HUSSEIN Obama!!! He's a Musslem!). This sort of hysteria is sadly prevelent on all sides.

Well stated, Jessica!

Ladyluck said...

How telling that you can't find a McCain supporter to participate... I've been trying for months to find a McCain supporter to convince me why I should vote for McCain- the caveat being that they have to leave the whole "because Obama is so bad" argument out of it.
I have no idea yet how I will use my vote, I do wish that someone could show me a reason to vote FOR someone...not just AGAINST someone else.

Anonymous said...

Surely, a thoughtful argument for Obama. You Go, Jess!

Anonymous said...

stephen, a correction from my husband: obama wasn't in the u.s. senate when we went to war with iraq, so he *opposed* the iraq war, but didn't have the opportunity to vote against it. my bad.

ABG said...

Well said, Jess. And thank you, Stephen for giving this thoughtful essay an audience!