Thursday, February 18, 2016

Caveat Emptor: A Political Uncloseting?

This was originally written as a Facebook note.  I'm not changing anything grammatically or in reference to Facebook or my Facebook "friends."  When it was said and done it seemed like a fair summation of my thinking these days about politics.  I have disabled comments on this post because I just don't want to argue with people.  This is my blog.  These are my thoughts.  And like I say in the body: I've made my position clear, I don't need to defend it in the comments. 

I will entertain sitting down over a cup of coffee, but it has to fit into my schedule and travel patterns.

 
Okay, y'know what, I'm going to come clean.

My whole life I was a political independent. When I first registered to vote I didn't know what it meant to be a republican or a democrat and I wasn't comfortable making that kind of uninformed decision. Well, I've finally made the decision.

I grew up in the church. I believe that we should love everyone, do good to those that persecute us, and to help those who are in need. My understanding of Christianity is that is a religion of selflessness, doing good works, and living a life that is better than ordinary.  This is not what I learned from the mouths of men who stand in front of a group of people and interpret scripture to the masses.  These are the things that have permeated my mind and heart from the words written in scripture despite all of those sermons.
I’ve spent over four decades marinating in the word of God. 
Nowhere have I heard anything about the right to bear arms.  I reject the notion that I am somehow obligated as a Christian to arm myself to the teeth to protect my family.  You can proof text until the day is done, but that doesn’t gel with scripture.  Nowhere have I read anything about creating value for shareholders in black or red ink.  Nowhere have I read anything about upholding the constitution or that the constitution is some kind of appendix to the Bible.  Nowhere have I read anything about the United States of America as being the chosen country of God. 
Nowhere have I read a stipulation that you should help the poor UNLESS they don’t deserve it.  Nowhere have a read a clause that frees me from the commandment to love everyone regardless of race, color, or creed.  You show me where Jesus says to pick and choose where to show my love.  Nowhere have I read that it is okay to call my political opponents names, insult their intelligence, damn them to hell, and pronounce my own superiority. 
I see this all the time from so-called Christians who have drunk the kool-aid of the political Right.  I am not saying that being a democrat is the right choice for Christians.  But I am saying most definitely that if you think the GOP is any better you’re fooling yourself. 
I have read verses that say you should respect the leaders of the land because they have been put there and ordained by God.  Yes, even Obama.  I have read verses that say to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.  Y’know what I took away from that verse?  Money should have little value and hold little sway over the hearts of Christians.  A friend of mine who I grew up with in the church once told me that “what’s mine is mine and I will decide who to give it to.”  I don’t take that away from scripture.  I seem to remember reading a lot about selling all you have and giving to the poor.  That doesn’t sound like “what’s mine is mine.” 
Since I’ve been dragged into caring about politics (I did not before 9/11/01) I have been frustrated that I can’t participate in primary elections because of my independence.  As things began getting underway for the upcoming presidential election I decided I needed to choose a party simply so I could vote in the primary.  I thought long and hard.  See, a few years ago I took it upon myself to do a deep study of different political parties.  I looked the Green Party, the Tea Party (maybe there should be a Green Tea Party), and some Centrist organizations.  I looked into Democratic Socialism, Christian Socialism, I read about communism and even anarchism. 
In the end I realized that only a republican or democratic vote mattered.  That was depressing.  I’ve forever railed against the necessity of choosing between two evils.  I even argued with that friend from church who said that despite it being a choice of evils it was still LESS evil to vote for a republican. 
I registered as a democrat.  I wasn’t happy with the choice.  But when I had to decide I absolutely could not stomach the thought of being associated with the GOP.  To me it represents all that is wrong with the country.  ALL…on both sides of the aisle.  But because the Right has co-opted my religion and has twisted it into something profane and distinctively unchristian I cannot attach my name to it. 
That doesn’t mean I am pro-abortion.  I am pro-choice in the sense that it is not my choice to make for someone else (I believe on the Right they call that “Limited Government”).  I am not pro-gay marriage.  But again, I don’t believe that is my choice to make for someone else.  Those two issues aside, I have no qualms with calling myself a democrat.  In fact, if those two issues weren’t so mangled and twisted into the wreckage of modern politics I don’t think I would ever have cared one way or the other which party I was part of.  And I don’t mean to say that either of those issues matter much at all to me.  They’ve been used to force me to choose in a way that I abhor.
Growing up in the church I was led to believe that if I was a democrat then I was supporting things that were sin and evil.  What I have realized over time is that there is nothing about being a republican that is different.  When we blindly follow one party or the other we are contributing to the decline of our civilization.  Full stop.
Republicans are not the chosen people of God.  Don’t fool yourself.  Think for yourself.  You don’t have to vote one way or the other to be a good Christian.  But if it doesn’t sound right then don’t believe it.  The entire system is rigged to keep us from thinking for ourselves.  It’s a marketing tool.  It’s a form of control designed to maximize votes along polarized lines.  Two parties polarize and force decisions when what we really need is more constructive dialogue and more political options.  But clear political options—not like the current GOP primary race. 
While protesters wave signs for or against abortion and gay marriage in all fifty states legislators pass laws that contradict every campaign promise they ever made to the masses to satisfy those with the real power: the extremely rich. 
The ugly truth is that money is power in our world today.  And that power is so strong is can twist the truth.  It can convince us that black is white, up is down, and wrong is right.  We believe what flashes before our eyes because we never have time to stop and think about the real underlying issues of our times. 
As a Christian I don’t think I should care so much about upholding the constitution.  At least not in the sense that somehow the constitution contributes to my salvation in any way.  American Freedom is not the same thing as the freedom that Jesus teaches.  American Freedom is also not the freedom to whatever the hell you want regardless of how it impacts other people.  That’s not freedom.  That’s chaos.  And when chaos reigns then survival of the fittest becomes the law of the land.  We’re moving dangerously into that realm.
And while many Christians don’t think that God will allow humanity to destroy the world again (and I agree) I do not believe that God will protect our civilization from its own willful stupidity.  God’s will can persist with only a remnant of humanity surviving an apocalyptic collapse of society.  Other great civilizations have fallen.  Nothing makes ours immune to the conditions that contribute to a fall.  We won’t destroy our planet, but we may destroy the current economic, political, and social structures that inhabit it.