This was my weekly column in ‘The Greenville News.’ I don’t write politics often, so take it for what it’s worth.
Someone recently asked me if I watched the debates. ‘No,’ I said, ‘debates make my stomach hurt.’ I don’t watch things that cause me too much emotional engagement. I used to watch the show ‘E.R.’ My wife Jan suggested I stop. I would usually turn it on before going to work night-shift in our emergency department. I would then shout at the television, saying things like ‘There’s no way! Nobody does that! Put in a chest-tube!’ She said I became a bit too ‘agitated.’
The presidential and vice-presidential debates were much the same. And at 44-years-old, I really don’t need to elevate my blood pressure unnecessarily. So I didn’t watch the debates. Nevertheless, I’ve been thinking a lot.
I don’t generally write about politics, but I made an interesting observation recently and I thought it was worth sharing. First, I’ll tell you what bothers me and then I’ll move on to the good news.
As a Christian conservative, (no surprise to any reader of my column) lots of issues in this campaign trouble me. I’m troubled by the way the media has ceased to ask hard questions of its favorite candidates, and has utterly failed to hold them to any kind of realistic, critical accountability.
I’m frustrated by the way conservatives have consistently failed to put forth interesting, dynamic candidates. Oh, for a Republican Obama! Where is our orator? Where is our champion? McCain may be solid, and trustworthy, but on the ‘thrill scale,’ he’s only a few steps above Bob Dole. Sen. McCain is a skilled, intelligent individual; but lacking in charisma. That’s a problem in political climate that exalts form far above substance, and entertainment far above understanding.
Mind you, I don’t have a problem with the left; least not the traditional left. That was the left, the liberality, which lifted Western mankind above slavery, serfdom and layers of oppression. That was the left that protected children and believed in freedom, equality and fairness. Those were the liberals who held to the common rights of all men to be left alone. No, those guys I like. They were our ideological ancestors as Americans.
The left that makes me stare at the ceiling at night, and that keeps me from watching debates or reading polls, is the left that considers all wealth (except that derived from entertainment, athletics or liberal industrialists) to be the product of oppression and theft.
I’m angered by the left that considers the traditional family a quaint anachronism to be quietly swept away in favor of new, radical definitions. I’m worried by the left that screams diversity but insists on absolute uniformity; that shouts down opposition with profanity. And I’m terrified by the left that happily justifies not only abortion but euthanasia; partly because it believes humans are bad for the earth.
That’s the left that wants with all its heart to push Judeo-Christian faith to the margins of society, where it will be labeled and stored as a charming habit from antiquity; or perhaps a disease of unenlightened minds.
But even as I’m anxious and avoiding television, I’m encouraged. This election gives me an odd, secret delight. That’s because agenda of the left, or at least the nobler part of it, comes straight from the Judeo-Christian belief system. We might say that Moses and Jesus were the original liberals; and conservatives, too. They taught us things that both parties need to keep in mind; things like the relevance of God’s law, the worth of every human, freedom with restraint, love with responsibility; grace with repentance.
Concern for the poor, racial and sexual equality, kindness to foreigners, peace, justice for the widows and children, free will, limitations on the power of government, the very concept of a moral duty to other humans, these were not scientific discoveries of the enlightenment. They were, and are, the inheritance of Judaism and Christianity, bestowed on the world by a Creator deeply interested in mankind; by a redeemer actively seeking the broken and lost.
The most delicious irony of all our American politics is that without a revealed duty to God and man, neither the right nor the left would have anything to say except, ‘get what you can, when you can, however you can, and everyone else be damned.’
Those of us on the right sometimes need to be reminded of the value of mercy. But the left, the true American liberal movement, just needs to be ‘baptized.’ To a frustrated conservative like me, that’s some hopeful reassurance.