I've had a lot of things swirling around in my head and in my heart for the last few weeks. It's been an intense time for me, and as writing is therapeutic, I want to share some of what I'm thinking. So, it's time to start blogging again!
A week ago, today, we elected a new President. The opinions could not be more divided on what this means for the future of our country. There is no doubt that it is an historic moment in America that we would elect a black man as President of the United States. For the millions of African-Americans in this country, it means a new door of opportunity and a brighter hope for their children's future. Now, when they tell their sons that they can be anything - even President of the United States - they can say so with confidence and point to a role model. (Perhaps the daughters will one day have such a role model as well).
I wish that I could believe that this election means what so many think it means - that we've come so far in race relations in our country. But, I feel like we are more polarized than ever. It seems like so many looked past President-Elect Obama's far left agenda and looked only at his skin color on election day. It seems like many in this country believed it was time for a black president and didn't care how his values and policies would steer this country. I even had white friends tell me that they thought it was time to "stick it to white people" and put a black man in office. I've seen a number of my friends labeled as "racists" because they chose to vote for Senator McCain. Maybe it's because I live in the South. But, things like Howard Stern's Interviews in Harlem seem to say it's not a regional issue.
Yesterday, a friend said to me, "I don't see why everyone thinks it will be so bad having Obama as President". And, my answer was, "maybe it won't". Maybe he'll get into office, get more information and realize that there are limited options in some cases. In a White House Press Briefing on November 6th, Press Secretary Dana Perino said in a response to the value of daily intelligence briefings:
"So the value of an intelligence briefing is immeasurable, and it's nothing that any of us who are not President of the United States, or aren't going to be President of the United States, can understand. I think that that is something that a very small group of people in our country, those who have been President, and the current President and the one to be, understand the gravity and the seriousness of the threats that we face. And so those briefings will hopefully prove very helpful to him. Not only will he get the intelligence briefing, but he will also, as Director Hayden said, be able to understand the full range of capabilities that we have in order to help continue to protect the country."
The office and responsibility of The President is one that none of us who do not bear it can understand. The decisions made by a President are made with information that none of us has at our disposal. It's frustrating to hear so much disrespect and arm chair quarterbacking of the President when none of us has all the information. It can be assumed that President-Elect Obama will have to adjust some of his plans once he has all of the information. It is also worth pointing out that, in the same press briefing it was noted that President Bush's plan was ALREADY to start bringing the troops home and out of Iraq in 2009.
For me, there are areas I will be watching as President-Elect Obama takes office.
The Freedom of Choice Act - On the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President-Elect Obama released a statement saying that he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act as President. In fact, before his supporters in Planned Parenthood, he said it would be the first thing he did. Since 1973 more than 50 million U.S. Citizens have been aborted under the protection of Roe v. Wade. On November 5, 2003, President Bush signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban of 2003. This law banned a procedure in which a baby is partially delivered and then killed before the delivery is completed. The Freedom of Choice Act would, according to Nancy Keenan of NARAL Pro-Choice America, "would effectively repeal the Bush-backed Federal Abortion Ban and other federal restrictions." (Please note that she refers to the Partial Birth Abortion Ban as only the Federal Abortion Ban. She refers to a safe abortion procedure, but does not call it partial birth abortion.) Nearly 50 million babies have been aborted since 1973. 50 million American Citizens were denied their right to life. The Freedom of Choice Act will reverse any headway states have made in limiting abortions. I will be paying attention to this issue and respectfully use my voice in dissent.
The Socializing of America - In a much publicized conversation with private citizen, Joe Wurzelbacher, President-Elect Obama said, "I think when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody". Yesterday, I heard that congress is in talks to turn private retirement accounts into Guaranteed Retirement Accounts managed by the government. The ideas for these type of accounts has been presented by Professor Teresa Ghilarducci of the New School of Social Research in New York. "In a radio interview with Kirby Wilbur in Seattle on Oct. 27, 2008, Ghilarducci explained that her proposal doesn’t eliminate the tax breaks, rather, “I’m just rearranging the tax breaks that are available now for 401(k)s and spreading — spreading the wealth.” In addition to his comments on economic redistribution, President-Elect Obama would also like to see universal nationalized health care. While universal health care seems like a panacea for what ails us, it also carries many burdens. Check out this article in the LA Times about how there is a big difference between health coverage and actual access to health care.
First Amendment Rights - Although Barack Obama currently does not support a return of the Fairness Doctrine, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi,does. This legislation would require radio and television statements to give equal time to opposing views. First of all, this goes against our free market system. Air America (liberal talk radio), tried and failed to gain an audience. The Fairness Doctrine, if reinstated, would require time given to programs that may, in fact, lose money for station owners. Secondly, it could also mean that Christian radio stations would have to give equal time to opposing world views. Taking all of this in context with President-Elect Obama's decision to remove unsympathetic reporters from his plane and Joe Biden's run-in and subsequent snubbing of an Orlando News station because he didn't like her questions, it is not unreasonable for Americans to be concerned about the Freedom of the Press becoming a thing of the past.
Second Amendment Rights - The day following the election, there was a run on guns in the United States with a strong response by the NRA-ILA to President-Elect Obama's stated agenda on gun control. There are many nuances to this argument, but I do not want to see us get to a point where we are no longer allowed the right to bear arms of any kind.
War and National Security - It remains to be seen what President-Elect Obama will do in regards to the war and national security. As I stated earlier, things may change as he begins to get his daily intelligence briefing, and President Bush already has a plan to start bringing troops home from Iraq in 2009. But, some interesting things are cropping up in the discussion of "what ifs" concerning President Obama - like a possible National Security Force that reports to him. I hope that the men and women of our military do not suffer under an Obama presidency. I remember, under President Clinton, the weakening of our military and the closing of several bases. I can't help but wonder if this reducing of funds for our military and national security isn't, in part, responsible for the terrorists attacks on U.S. soil. I pray that we will not reverse the strides we've made in making our country safer and our military stronger.
Global Society - Britian's Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is urging world leaders to take the opportunity of this global financial crisis to build a truly global society. What will that mean for America?
Reversing of Executive Orders - It appears that some of his first acts once in office will be the reversal of some of President Bush's executive orders including restrictions on stem cell research, ban on foreign aid of abortions, and a reversal of offshore drilling. Before even taking office, President-Elect Obama has made his liberal agenda clear.
However, even taking all of these factors into account, I will be careful not to disrespect President-Elect Obama. I have been appalled and angered over the last 8 years at how President Bush has been treated by so many in this country. I will not do the same to President-Elect Obama. For the next four years, he will be my President, and that office deserves respect. That does not, however, mean that I will remain silent. I will use my voice to respectfully disagree and stand in opposition of legislation that I fear takes us too far to the left. Politicians move to the center during political campaigns in order to appeal to the largest number of Americans. Perhaps they should also govern from the center and find a way for the right and left to come together for what is best for America. President-Elect Obama said that he would work to earn the support of those whose votes he did not earn. I hope that will be true. I will be praying for President-Elect Obama as he takes office and begins to lead our country. That is the job of the church - to use our voice and to pray.
I pray that this election will truly be a step towards reconciliation between the races in the United States. But, I hope the dialog is about more than just black and white. I'm tired of hearing about how white people hate black people. If we look at the situation with open eyes, we see that there's more than enough hate to go around. Do some white people still hate black people because of their race? Sadly, yes. But, the reverse is also true. And, there's discrimination against Hispanics, women, men, Christians, non-Christians, Democrats, Republicans, and on and on. We have a lot of work to do in America and "The Change We Need" actually must start in the hearts of God's people. It's our job as the church to learn to love each other as Christ loved us and show that through our lives. One way we can do that is by showing respect to President-Elect Obama even if we didn't vote for him.
So, here's my plan for the next four years:
1. Pray for the country and the President
2. Pay attention to the political process
3. Use my voice in respectful opposition
4. Keep learning how to love like Jesus and show that in my actions
I pray that this is a wake up call for the church and that we get up, stretch our legs, and get out into our communities and truly make a difference for the Kingdom.