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A modest proposal

Since much of the public's political dial seems pegged at 11, my perspective as a single-issue (opposition to the legality of abortion) voter is regularly being challenged. For the most part, I don't talk with others about it at all, because the conversations are largely unhelpful to any party, and if we're going to add something to one another's lives, I'd rather it be something more valuable and less inflammatory. But even when not directly connected with me, the choice I'm making as a voter is routinely demeaned and dismissed as overly naive and/or irresponsible.

One device currently gaining a lot of traction for framing derision of single-issue voting is the war in Iraq and the lives lost therein. Honestly, I have my reservations about how comparable the two are, but in an effort to find common ground with my fellow Americans, I'm willing to let go of my cause if we can simply agree on a way to be sure that we're giving the same consideration to innocent lives in both settings. My modest proposal:

All fetuses will be given armament and training comparable to that of the U.S. Armed Forces,
with which to defend themselves from attempts on their lives.

With the adoption of this small measure toward equity, I will gladly forsake the foolishness of my single-issue approach to voting in favor of a more nuanced global perspective, which I'm assured is more intellectually respectable than my current simplistic view.


You = Appreciated.
Do you have a specific set of people who are suggesting voting for one issue is overly naive or irresponsible? Or is that a general sense you're picking up?

I've experienced both (by "specific set," I mean people who have spoken directly with me—and I'm OK having that conversation; that's always been face-to-face and in an appropriate circle of intimacy—and by "general sense," I mean I've read or heard it critiqued), enough so to conclude it's a fairly common view.

No doubt my active disinterest in broad political discussion (outside of grounded relationships, which provide more context and are far more meaningful to me) keeps me a bit less personally exposed to that critique, which is fine with me since I don't think it's an especially constructive one. But it still occurs with a frequency that exceeds isolated incident.
While voting out of one issue isn't right for me any longer (though I still wonder about my decision being the right one), I am wanting to defend doing so. I was told at one point that my vote due to being pro-life was irresponsible and while that ended up to be important feedback for me, it was below the belt and was extremely dismissive which is at it's basest form unproductive, but also just terribly unloving.
Yeah, not to be too controlling of my relationships, but most of the people who would take that kind of shot at me aren't ever going to get close enough do so.

Circles of intimacy are more important to me the older I get—maybe that's the pearls before swine thing? It seems unenlightened to say that, but there's still God-given wisdom and truth to be engaged there somehow, even if it might go against my sensibilities.
I do sense a bit more of an edge to you than usual regarding Obama and this election, but I'm probably more sensitive to it given I support him.

It's all wankery, Lee, all of this talk. And much of it has to do with your belief in stimulous/overreaction. I think it's really the rare person who can truly demonstrate any kind of grace when faced with a point of view or idea that is offensive - I'm certainly not one of them, I don't know many who are. That's not offered as an excuse, but perhaps just another example of our collective brokenness and acknowledgement that humanism and "being nice" is not even close to having a Savior.

Edited at 2008-08-29 10:21 pm (UTC)
I think I'd like both Obama and McCain. The response to Obama hits a different chord with me because it's different from what we've seen politically in some time. We're created to want a King, because we have one, but one of the major themes of the Bible is that we seek to make others into kings because of our desire. Political engagement and spirited debate are one thing, but I'm concerned about our misdirected kingmaker impulse—I'd never take away what's behind it, because it makes us able to seek and find our true King. Corrupted, it's the very worst in us, and I fear seeing it play out in national politics (not to mention its ultimate distraction from the King Himself).

The chief executive of the U.S. isn't a king, by design. His/her duties are very specific and limited, and I'm pretty focused on them in my voting. Lots of what gets credited to presidential administrations are the cumulative result of complex systems—some things happen decades away from their causes, and some have little to do with the executive whatsoever. I'm all about identifying critical points, and judicial appointments are, in my opinion, one of the most direct effects of a presidency. They also happen to be key to the current status of my single issue, so much of the rest fades in importance to my decision.

Since I already have a King, for me the campaign is an extended job interview. I know what I'm looking for, and a huge part of the rest is fluff, some of which has nothing to do with the job by any objective measure. I respect that others are looking for different qualifications, but the job itself has pretty hard limits (thank God).

There's nothing a bad president (former, current, or future) can do that's anywhere near as dangerous and destructive as the misdirected kingmaker impulse of a people, nor is there anything so wonderful a president can do that can outweigh that danger. So when I see potential signs of trouble along those lines, it gets a reaction from me.

Edited at 2008-08-29 10:35 pm (UTC)
I love this. I've read it several times. And what strikes me is that I feel the same concern around making Obama a "King", I love that he inspires people who never aspired to ever have one to feel that longing in their own heart. While it's concerning at best to think Obama would be some kind of replacement for a Savior, I look around and see something about him inspiring the belief that one can even exist in the first place. But time will tell.
You've hit on the thing I think is the craziest.

WHY is he inspiring others? What I mean is - what about him is inspiring others? His speeches? His demeanor? His promises? What? It's so strange to me that so many people feel so compelled to - do something, I don't know what - based on something he is apparently emitting.

I haven't made any final decisions on who I am voting for, but all this just creeps me out a little, to be honest.

That's where I am, too. For most of us, we aren't inspired by something he did for us (or even for anyone), so it has to be something else about him (and about us). And I want people to be inspired to do something other than "be inspired"—to me, being inspired to be inspired is of limited value (that's the nicest I'm willing to be about it) and our culture is rife with it already. I'm just as critical of it in Christian circles, if not moreso.

That doesn't take away from Obama's other qualifications at all—the phenomenon arguably isn't even his responsibility. But since it's not in his favor on my tally sheet, either, I'm not tracking with much of the excitement around his candidacy. I just don't have a reason to be excited (which is fine with me, because I don't really need to be excited in order to vote).

The gap I see between stimulus and response makes me suspect another stimulus, but I realize people react differently to the same things, too. Nevertheless, it sets off my weirdness alarm.
I know exactly what you mean and initially felt that it was creepy as well. But after talking to so many Obama supporters who are older, I realized that the country is in the same place (a little worse) as we were prior to electing Kennedy. Scared, tired, totally disallusioned with the prior scandals of the previous administration and something about JFK made them remember the greatness of America, all of the potential.

I think the nation is tired and scared, and there is something trustworthy in Obama, probably because he's quite different from what we're used to. I began to think about it and wondered why I was so creeped out by a man who inspired such love, but I wasn't creeped out by John McCain owning 7 homes while at the same time claiming he is about the common man and gets the common man more than Obama.

I think my faith has trained me to be wary of emotion. To not replace faith with emotion, to be skeptical of it. To be wary of those who trigger it. And I think the warning is both Scriptural and smart, emotion unchecked is a dangerous thing spiritually, not to mention the role it plays in making decisions. But after so much discussion with those who are so fervent about Obama and frankly, a self-examination of why I am, I get it. I care more about this country than I ever have before, I really have. Enough to even step away from what I believe about abortion which makes me sick to vote for someone I think really does care more about the homeless, public schools, the environment, things that I've almost stopped myself from caring about because I am so scared about the direction this current administration has taken, how little regard they have for all of it.

But Scripture tells us to test the spirits, and I think those of you who approach Obama with caution are offering an important check.
The chief executive of the U.S. isn't a king, by design. His/her duties are very specific and limited, and I'm pretty focused on them in my voting. Lots of what gets credited to presidential administrations are the cumulative result of complex systems—some things happen decades away from their causes, and some have little to do with the executive whatsoever. I'm all about identifying critical points, and judicial appointments are, in my opinion, one of the most direct effects of a presidency. They also happen to be key to the current status of my single issue, so much of the rest fades in importance to my decision.

I wish people GOT this.
making note to revisit this post every 15 minutes.

Re: pro-life

I still think fetuses with automatic weapons could take a big bite out of the problem—we're much more interested in peace when the people we've declared war on fight back.

Heck, there might even be call for an unconditional, immediate withdrawal from the front, and we could deal with the consequences afterward, once we've stopped the killing. Such proposals seem popular in other circumstances…

Edited at 2008-08-29 09:39 pm (UTC)
I'm curious about a bit of a conflict here, and feel free to ignore this if you'd rather not have the discussion, but...

I understand the single-issue voter, and applaud that. However, over the last few years I've watched those candidates promote the death penalty and start wars that have killed thousands while doing nothing (that I can remember) about abortion[*] or the underlying social issues there.

[*]Bush did veto a stem-cell funding bill, as I recall, but I can't remember anything to do with abortion itself.

I think Obama might be more personally pro-life than McCain, but I think both are going to continue to ignore the issue over the next few years. (The choice of Governor Palin is a very interesting one, and she's both strongly pro-life and enough of a firebrand to maybe make headway on this, I think.) And really, as residents of Washington's 43rd district (my vote still goes there even while I live outside the country), I know the rest of the local slate isn't even thinking about it.

So I guess the quandry is this: as a single-issue voter in this climate, why even show up? How do you reconcile all of this?

Again, this is curiosity combined with sympathy, not arguing or anything (although a slight touch of Devil's advocate, maybe, for discussion)...
Hence my proposal—let's go ahead and arm/train those fetuses. Then we're talking apples and apples!

Failing that, the only folks who currently have leverage in relation to abortion's legality are judges appointed by the executive. Granted, it's not much, and any vote is a risk (I haven't made any statement about who I'll vote for, but I'll bet most people who read this have already made an assumption on my behalf without even realizing it until they read this sentence), but as a U.S. citizen, that's what I've got.

It's so easy in an age of overwhelming information and a culture of exalted opinion to think we're responsible for so much more than casting that vote. But no matter how many speeches I can listen to, news angles I can consider, scandals I can wade through, and opinions I can read or write, in November, it's still just that vote. And since I'm not looking for salvation from the outcome of the vote, it's a duty I can exercise with relative lightness. My real responsibilities as a Kingdom citizen inform that vote, but they don't rise and fall on it.

Besides, I'm in the 43rd—I'm better off paying more attention to the local side of things with my ballot, because my single-issue focus isn't going to go far here. It's just what I believe it means for me to be faithful. Good thing it's simple. ;)


Excellent post!