Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day and the Poor


It’s Election Day and I intend to vote my conscience. Problem is my conscience is conflicted.

On the one hand, how can I reconcile my Christian faith with support for politicians who justify bloodshed in Iraq, torture for terrorists, hanging for convicted dictators, and trampling on the poor in order to build an Empire? On the other hand, how can I support politicians who engage in negative and vicious campaigns, take bribes, self-serve and corrupt themselves with power?

On the one hand, no President has done more than George W. Bush in 3rd world debt reduction and making AIDS drugs available and affordable in Africa. Prior to 2003, AIDS was an inevitable death sentence. Now, thanks to the Global Fund (which George W. deserve much credit for funding), millions of Africans don’t have to die. ARV treatment has now made AIDS a chronic disease for those who are able to access the protocals.

On the other hand, George W. is not my favorite President…and I don’t want to vote for those who support him.

How best to vote as a Christian in the midterm election? I find some guidance in John Hay’s “Seven Considerations I Make When Voting” on his blog site: http://bikehiker.blogspot.com excerpted below:

1. WHAT DOES IT DO TO THE POOR? Neither domestic poverty nor the impact of American policies on those who are poor internationally factor much into campaigns. Yet it was to the poor who were being crushed by the empire and belittled by religious sects that Jesus of Nazareth primarily addressed himself.

2. BEWARE LITMUS TESTS. Beware: personal piety does not necessarily translate into sound leadership or policies that reflect Biblical integrity.

3. AMERICA AND GOD’S KINGDOM ARE NOT THE SAME. Combining or confusing the two is, to my way of thinking, a potentially lethal mix

4. COMPASSION BEYOND CLICHÉS. I look for a candidate who I think will lead compassionately, not just talk about it. Will the candidate give an ear to those who are vulnerable and dominated?

5. LOOK BEYOND “ALL OR NOTHING.” Neither candidate is as extreme or demonic as the other camp says he/she is; neither is as morally right and righteous as his/her own press indicates.

6. CONSIDER THE USE OF VIOLENCE. I ask “How has a candidate responded to violence or used violence? And how does he/she plan to respond to and use it in the future.

7. AMERICA’S ROLE IN THE WORLD. Finally, I consider how candidates envision America’s place and role in the world. I am very concerned, as are many Christian missionaries, about an emerging aura of “empire” or “Pax Americana” that American actions are foretelling.

It’s Election Day, and at the end of the day, I suspect that I will take the advice of Robin Williams in “Man of the Year” who said: “Politicians and baby diapers are alike… in that they should be changed often and for the same reason.”