Thursday, June 12, 2008

Government Of, For, By the People

I care deeply about our world; I care what the world thinks about America. This lengthy Presidential Campaign leaves room for lots of processing. Voting for our next president is a privilege--seriously taken--not easily made.
My family thought Democrats corrupt, liberal tools of big city political machines--mostly liberal, whatever that implied. My father detested FDR, although I now know he had a job because of FDR. One of our state’s finest tourist attractions--Hartwig Pines--resulted, I now know, from one of FDR’s “welfare” reforestation programs.

I managed to marry a Democrat, but I remain a registered Republican. Change slowly evolved and eventually I voted democratic--a born again Christian. I follow Jimmy Carter’s career to this day and deeply admire his servant ministry. In time, I became so angry with the irrationality and lack of charity, not to mention Pharisaiseeism of the “Hate-Clinton Industry”, that I became politically defensive of the “man of sin.”

Throughout the 50s and 60s, I served segregated churches and lived with the negative effects of racism. In the 80s, I served a state Division of Social Concerns and there I became increasingly convicted of our institutional racism, as experienced. Wide reading, and conferences on social awareness broadened my horizons.

Returning to Seminary in the 60s, a socially conservative seminary taught me the Bible’s concern for the poor and the unprotected. I viewed racism, economics, and environment through new lenses, biblically oriented lenses.

While I watched my father lead a Pulpit Committee and refuse to interview a female candidate, I felt compelled to be the point man for my wife’s ordination. I studied my Wesleyan roots and learned of the social currents in the early Holiness Movement. Slowly, I reached beyond my strong commitment to our “Reformation Movement”, left the shelter of my don’t-rock-the-boat safety-zone, raised my head out of the sand, and spoke out on social issues mostly ignored by the status quo.

Today, I could no longer serve some of my earlier pastoral charges--as I once did. As a Christian, I could no longer “not see” the ethical demands for social change. Since retirement, I have read extensively--Native American life, slavery, black history, significant biographies and books of political analysis. Doris Kerns Goodwin, Joseph Elli, and others, captivate me. American Sphinx offers revealing insight into Thomas Jefferson.
I can no longer vote Republican. I am conservative by nature--a fiscal tightwad. Government and taxation once frustrated me. Sometimes indecisive, I avoid snap decisions. I dislike labeling--liberal, conservative (according to who?), the whole schmear!! It merely justifies dividing and conquering--putting down people that are different.
“Republicanism” hangs on as a throwback to the Confederacy--no longer all that useful. That literal interpretation of our Constitution "allowed" slavery to remain where already established; it practiced States Rights that protected slave states from federal interference with slavery, and it caused Henry Clay all manner of problem.
Jefferson-Madison opposed Federalism; Jefferson really wanted no government. He believed (laizzez faire) in just letting everybody get along, thinking they would if they had the chance). Sounds great, but it allows the financial lions to gobble up the financial lambs. Rational people know you need more than two teams, two coaches, and a referee, to have a good basketball game.
Government still functions best when of the people, by the people and for the people, contrary to today’s Republicans! Lincoln was a political “liberal”--first Republican president. He had been a long time Whig--social progressive of that era. They opposed slavery, supported working people and economic issues, built infrastructure in a country that had little.
The Civil War saw Federalism destroy slavery and support a true Bill of Rights. That required a “broader interpretation” of the Bill of Rights than the “literal” interpretation then in vogue. The “literalist” interpretation protected only white male voters, whereas the Bill of Rights said “ALL” hold certain inalienable rights of self-determination of faith, morals etc.
Black people were property, without civil rights. Valued at 60% of 1 vote, they only strengthened the Confederate slave states. It took many more decades for women to vote, and 214 years before civil rights passage. Most Republicans remain “strict constructionists” (constitutional “literalists“), sustaining government control by the wealthy, economic trickle-down from the top, and patriotism that supports a Hawkish military.
Such political maneuvering justified preemptive war in Iraq. This fa├žade of “lean government” mixes moral issues with political "hot button" issues, and muddies the water with issues of abortion and sexuality--they divide and conquer. They promote “less” government but “practice” record (military) deficit spending and increased corporate welfare, while slicing spending for infrastructure, education, and protective social safety nets.

John McCain is a legitimate war hero with tainted party politics. Barak Obama is audaciously hopeful. The Hate Clinton industry defeated Hillary, so we search for direction. It is time for a black president--that appeals … but so does a woman president.
I am convinced--at this late stage of my life--that America cannot long survive many years like the last eight. It is past time for people to stand up, vote, and be a government of, by, and for - the people.

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