Today I made the mistake of turning the radio to something other than sports on my drive to work. I don’t know why I thought the sounds of NPR would be better for my soul than the Jim Rome Show, but I made the call and now I have to live with it.
True confessions: I lean Democrat on many issues these days. That has become my “default mode” for a number of reasons. But I don’t think Jesus is a Democrat. And I don’t think Jesus is any happier with my current persuasion than he was with my prior Republican default-mode.
True confession #2: I could vote for the right Obama challenger this fall. Obama fell far short of his promises to change the posture of America toward the world with respect to its militarism, for example.
But today there were two moments of radio listening that helped me pin down why I “feel” more at home with Democrats than with Republicans.
First, there was a piece on one of Newt Gingrich’s favorite stump trail lines, in which he accuses Obama of being “the food stamp president.”
I won’t mess around too much here with the fact that his claim is technically false: .5 million more people went on food stamps under Bush Jr. than Obama. But, really, if you’re only .5 million behind in 4 years, what do you think the numbers will be in 8? So this isn’t the part that rankles me.
The part that rankles me is that the idea that people receiving assistance with food is somehow an object of scorn. People cheer when Gingrich lambasts the president for extending food stamp aid?
These are people who are at their wits end, turning to the last option available to them in order, often, to buy food for their children.
These are women in low- to moderate-paying jobs on maternity leave. They’ll have money when they go back to work. But what about now?
I can understand the argument that government feeding people isn’t the ideal way for folks in dire need to be cared for. But the reason so many are turning here is that those “better,” “ideal” means aren’t coming to pass.
Look, conservative Republican, Christian friends. I get that there’s a better way. And we should be living that out. But if you (and I) were actually fulfilling that better way, then food stamps would not be needed. If you’re grumpy about food stamps, then let’s all take away the need for them by caring for the poor without them.
The other story was the Superior Court upholding the lower court’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of Prop 8 in California, which took away the rights of gays and lesbians to marry.
Again, I can’t get on board with the ire expressed by Republicans (mostly) and Christians (hi, friends) that the extension of civil rights to all citizens is a great evil.
Yes, the people of California voted to strike down the law allowing homosexual couples to marry.
News flash: the majority has never willfully extended civil rights without the courts of this country telling Americans that the Constitution forbids us from carrying out our discriminatory practices.
Left to ourselves, we would still be a segregated country whose representatives were voted in by men.
Does this blog post have a point? Mostly that I’m getting soft in my old age, I guess. I don’t buy that the limitations the Republican candidates want to erect on such issues as these are manifestations of compassion. I think people are deserving of greater compassion than corporations, and that exercising compassion toward corporations does not benefit many people.
I think it’s a good thing for desperate people to be able to find food; I think it’s a good thing for a state not to be run on the basis of the kinds of religious predilections that limit the civil liberties of its citizens (even where those religious predilections are my own).
I probably allow too much “do unto others as you’d want done to you” to creep into my politics these days. And somehow that makes mocking the food stamp president strangely foreign to me.
As always, but let me state it especially clearly in a post on politics: the views expressed here are my own, and claim neither the imprimatur of my employer nor of Jesus.