29. Need another Horse for the Race.
Oh gosh, where do I start on this chapter? Another generalisation, Americans are usually very reluctant to speak about politics. But this was election time and many many people were free and open to discuss Cain verses Obama. What a blessing and an eye opener it was to be here during this season.
In my experience, with some exceptions, it really is true that the south is Republican and the north is Democrat. One of the rather confused exceptions in the north is the Church. I would think that most of the Church in the north is Republican, but there is a very strong and healthy Democratic wing. I think that most of them are hiding. Why? Well as a friend said to me, “When I say that I am a Democrat, then my Christianity is doubted. As if I cannot love God and be a Democrat”.
As I see it, and as I understand a lot of American Christians also see it, the American electoral system is fundamentally flawed. America desperately needs another horse in the race. I mean as a Christian, I could not vote for either the Republican or the Democratic parties. I just couldn’t do it. I could not vote for the Republican stance on healthcare, its treatment of the poor, its love of the death penalty, let alone the Bush administration’s violations of human rights in its international prisons. But on the other hand, I would have a very hard time voting for the Democratic stances on the legalisation of prostitution and its liberal stances on genetically modified food and clone cell research. Then we start on the whole breakdown of the family, gay marriages and gay couples and single people adopting kids. These issues and many more from the right and the left are at the spearhead of Christian politics. These are things that we are often scared to talk about. Wouldn’t it be nice if even one party was allowed to come forth and collectively talk about these things? America needs, at least, a centrist party. But the problem is there would be no point in voting for them. Because of America’s electoral system, a centrist party could never gain any power.
Many other countries in the world have a ‘mixed member proportional representation’ system, or simply MMP. At a national level, rather than being a ‘first past the post’ system, the larger left and right parties, depending on how many votes they accrued, are usually forced to form a coalition with smaller parties. Not only does this stop the larger parties from becoming democratically-elected dictators but it also gives a lot of power to minority parties. It means that if you are so inclined, then it is worth voting for the Green party, Christian Democrats, Legalisation of Marijuana party, Gay Marriage party or whoever else takes your fancy. These smaller parties actually get some power and can either make changes and/or prevent the far right and left from getting polarised.
Polarisation in politics is very dangerous and very much seemed to be where America was at when we visited.
The smear campaign seemed to be part of your average street Democrat’s arsenal. Democrats often just looked at the Bush administration and laughed at it, as if it was just some long bad joke. Though unlike most Republicans, Democrats were willing to talk policy, with healthcare being near the top of the list. Though Hilary often got a hard time in Democrat circles, many Democrats didn’t care which one of them came to power, they just wanted the Republican reign to end.
And as for the Republican camp, either they could not speak policy or were not willing to. Most of their conversations were focused on…. and non-Americans I kid you not, I was totally gob-smacked the first time I heard it… many of the Republicans we met were focused on Obama being a terrorist and a Muslim. My friends are intelligent, I just cannot understand how some of them could think this way. Of course they could be right, I mean Obama could have somehow evaded all of the security checks that he must have gone through during the early days of his political career and presidential campaign. Not to mention the hordes of Republicans who are probably still looking for chinks in his armour. We could discover that the next terrorist attack on American soil was orchestrated by none other than its President, unlikely, but possible.
Then there is the Muslim thing. As I understand it, we vote for the person who is best qualified to lead our nation. We vote for the person who has the country’s best interests at heart. We don’t vote on grounds of religion, or do we? If a Muslim is the best person to run the country, then what is wrong with that? As a Christian I would much rather have a Muslim run my nation than an atheist or even than someone who doesn’t have a belief structure. Of course if a Christian was campaigning for a party that I was affiliated with, well then if her or his policy was sound, I would vote accordingly. But I wouldn’t blanketly just throw out a candidate based on religion, race or gender.
Anyhow this has been a horrible and boring chapter to write, I am looking forward to writing my way into O’Hare airport and discovering that the USA has voted in a new President. Not a black one, not a white, but a multi-racial and multi-cultural one.
Next week read about Betsie and the worlds most expensive goat track
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You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry!
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