Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dipping My Toe into the Political Topic

Most people know, I am a democrat -

a majority of my friends (though not all) are republican.

I usually avoid discussing politics for that reason.

Politics are super important to me. Of all the things I do everyday to keep myself plugged in to the world, my favorite is to listen to a lot of political analysis and read a lot of political articles. I read things from all over - I read things I totally disagree with fairly frequently because I like to understand how other people think.

This morning I am happy. Obama is my guy.

I used to like McCain a long time ago and I used to say I could vote for him. I liked the fact that he thumbed his nose at the republican party fairly often - seemed to follow his heart and his own sense of right and wrong rather than a party line. I think that appeals to a lot of democrats.

But seemingly winning the primary has made him re-think that strategy and he has to appeal to a broader range of republicans (many of whom have despised him for years...we have die-hard republican friends who absolutely can't stand the man - some of them say they will hold their nose and vote for him, some say they are considering Obama). In doing so he's totally lost me.

I've never loved Hilary. Never hated her either. I never understood people's intense dis-like of her. And when I ask my republican friends about it they usually say two things - her intense drive to scamble to the top (and they think that's the only reason she's stayed married to Bill) and the comment she made about Tammy Wynette and "standing by her man" and the whole "baking cookies" thing. One woman I know doesn't like her because she put up with Bill's wandering eye all those years. Ironically that woman had an affair herself so...I could write a whole psychology study on that thought process. At any rate I always liked Obama more than Hillary. For the record I started out as a John Edwards supporter - and I still like him very much and wish he had stuck in the race longer. But Obama has always been a close second to Edwards for me. But until recently, I felt, that I could definitely vote for Hilary if my choices were McCain vs. Hilary (though a year ago I would have said that race would probably have me voting for McCain). In the last few weeks I have been very disappointed in her behavior.

I saw this quote this morning that really summed it up for me: "After the Reverend Wright controversy, Hillary Clinton had the nomination in her hands. Obama was suffering the worst press month of his campaign," said Republican media consultant Alex Castellanos. "Then she had a choice. She could have gotten bigger, more presidential, less political, could have risen to defend Obama. 'This is outrageous and has no place in politics.' She didn't do that. Instead, she chose to become smaller, more political, less presidential. Her own political instincts betrayed her."

That's where she lost me exactly.

What Reverand Wright said was pretty outrageous (though to be fair, I've read the entire sermon and it is not nearly as outrageous in the context of the whole thing) probably even more outrageous was the way he tried to defend what he said. He's quite indignant about it. He took a very bad tone at the press club - was rude to reporters and would not answer questions if a reporter had not read the entire sermon (which is why I did...and he had a point, but it was totally the wrong way to make that point).

I kept thinking "wow! I hope if I ever run for office I don't have to have someone dredge up wacky things, racist things, crazy things my former Bishops have said". I am telling you that on a political spectrum Jed Riding and I do not agree on much. But he's my Bishop. I respect him. I actually consider him a friend as well. I've spent time in their home - I've even been to their cabin. Is it that hard to understand that politics and church don't mix?

I remember the time we ushered out kids out of sacrament meeting with the skinhead was there. The man with the shaved head that said 'white power' in huge letters all the way around his head. We kept looking at the Bishop like "aren't you going to do something?" and he didn't do anything. This guy was down front and center. Clearly his head had been shaved absolutely clean that morning. Come on. Kirk sent a note up to the Bishop explaining our departure. I am still very glad we left. We wanted our kids to be very clear about where we stood. In a conversation with the Bishop later he said that 1. He couldn't see all the way around his head so he wasn't sure exactly what it said and 2. When he realized what it said he asked him to grow out his hair if he was going to keep coming to church and taking the missionary discussions. Now look, I am all for a skinhead coming to Jesus. I have no problems with a skinhead who has fully changed his views and ways. But this guy was clearly still shaving that head everyday. Had I been the Bishop I would have offered to let the guy wear a hat and sit in the over-flow or something until his hair came in. But that's me, and I'm not a Bishop. The guy kept trying to talk with the missionaries but never attempting to grow his hair in. Which is when the Bishop drew the line. 2 weeks later he raped an old lady in the neighborhood. Nice.

But what if I had not gotten up and left. What if I ran for political office and someone said that my church, my specific congregation was being attended by active skinheads and that in fact, my Bishop had welcomed the man with open arms. And I sat in the pew and sang hymms with this man and I had no problem with it. Well of course, I did have a problem with it. But you know, it would have been easy to sit there and justify not leaving - afterall, I think we were the only ones at church that day who did leave. I'm just saying I think it's a bad idea to mix these worlds.

Things happen at church that I think are completely wacky. People say stuff that makes me internally groan. Over the years I've had leaders say things I TOTALLY disagree with. But I stay because over-riding all of that I feel a great spirit of love there. I felt it this sunday. It's a wonderful place to be. And maybe partly it's a wonderful place to be because it is flawed. People are flawed. I'm flawed. And yet God just keeps on loving every single one of us - watching us all try to do our best. Watching us try to serve one another and make the world just a tiny bit better place. I think that makes God happy. All those little kindnesses we show all the time make up for a lot of our mistakes.

So I'm happy that it looks like Obama will get the nomination. That seems right to me today.


Shando said...

Don't you think its funny no one wants to touch this one with a ten foot post!


Bandanamom said...

I know. I totally scared everybody off with that one. Mostly because no one democrat reads my blog - except you and you're kind of a closet democrat, while on paper, still a republican. :)

Which is either cowardly or subversive of you - I can't decide.

Shando said...

It's really just lazy. Get me the form to change and I'll happily become a democrat on paper

Anonymous said...

most skinheads aren't racist.

Bandanamom said...

I wonder if this 'anonymous' is the same 'anonymous' as my infamous 'anonymous'. Anonymous certainly has some interesting ideas.

Take the skinheads bowling, take them bowling. That's my motto.

Chris Almond said...

This was a very interesting post.
I would be curious to see how I would feel if I were in a similar situation.
My gut reaction is to disagree with what you did, walking out because of a skin head and wishing the bishop had done something to censor this man.
I'm as liberal as can be, but don't believe anyone's beliefs, no matter how offensive they may be, should be silenced, or even shunned.
If I were to go into church wearing, for example, a 'Ralph Nader' shirt, and a family left and I was asked to cover it up, I would find it disappointing that people would be so closed to even being in the same room as my expression of belief. It would probably give me further reason to belief what I did. I wonder if perhaps, trying to silence or walk away from the skin head might have the same effect on him.

Bandanamom said...

Hey Chris, I appreciate your thoughtful comments on my blog. I don't know if you'll see this because you may not have it set to alert you when there is a follow up comment. However, I must say that you did give me some food for thought. My biggest problem I think in this situation was that the big difference I would see is the intent of the person - and what message they were trying to send. In the case of wearing a Ralph Nader shirt (or the converse of that, maybe wearing a Rush Limbaugh shirt), I don't think either one of those is an expression of hate or violence. But the White Power tattoo shaved into the head, which he clearly really wanted everyone to see by keeping his head clean shaved (after he had been specifically asked by the missionaries to start growing his hair in) indicated to me that he was purposefully sending a message of hate that made me really uncomfortable.

My gut reaction was...or you can call it a spiritual reaction, was that I could not endorse such a public display when our ward is full of people of many different races and ethnicity.

But I understand what you are saying. Free speech is free speech.

There was a different man in our ward who took the discussions and joined the church who had a nazi tattoo and he had it covered with something more palatable and renounced his former beliefs.

It's a fine line. And I'm not sure I always know where that line is...I'm always looking for it. I love that there is room for so many different types of people in the gospel. I love that we don't always have to agree. I actually sort of LIKE the fact that I have to be a square peg fitting into a round hole sometimes when I am surrounded by Glenn Beck lovers left and right. But I do still love many of the people who love Glenn Beck, I just happen to not be able to agree with most of what Mr. Beck says myself.

It's an interesting topic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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