Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thinking about Elections

If the news last night was accurate indications are that Tea Party’ candidates are catching some wind. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out in November. Those elections and the next Presidential campaign should be interesting.

The GOP can't be happy that the right is getting crowded with splinter groups and the Democrats can’t pretend the deep discontent brewing across the nation is just a right wing skirmish. Maybe that crowding and that discontent will be the beginning of the end of business as usual. I'm not all that hopeful however.

It would be nice if both the GOP and Democrats started to realize that the 'same old-same old' is ticking people off. Playing to the cameras, lack of win-win solutions, brow beating, and name calling are taking its toll on the electorate. Unfortunately, it's giving life to 'haters'. It's scary to think that big mobs of people, all lacking impulse control, want to take back the government. Out of the frying pan into the fire, heh? Unfortunately, the existing political system plays to that hate and in their own ways encourage it.

The President began his term with great hope and optimism. I’ve got to give him ‘props’ for dealing with tough issues and handling a fair amount of heavy abuse. Charisma and perseverence isn’t going to be enough from this time forward, however. The administration has got to figure out a way of building some legislative coalitions to get the job done. Of course, that’s been the problem from the get go. No one has wanted to build coalitions and so we’re in this tedious position of trying to persuade heavily entrenched ideologues to compromise. Ain’t going to happen.

My guess is that the net impact of the fall’s election will hurt both parties. The Democrats will lose some congressional ground and state houses for sure but the GOP will also find itself playing in a congressional ballfield where some of their 'would be' teammates won't want to play by the existing rules. It could result in a do nothing congress of mammoth proportion. Of course, it could also lead to needed reforms. Those reforms are needed.

Democrats and Republicans alike have forgotten how to work together to the betterment of the country. That's already damaged our country and if the rhetoric doesn’t cool off in the next few years we’re going to be faced with a very divided country that doesn’t know how to ‘reason’ together. That’s what’s most scary to me. When we loose our ability to gain consensus then the lunatic fringes will fill in the gap.

I'm a big believer in America and our innate sense of goodness. We're losing our grip, though, on goodness. We don't know how to reason together anymore and civility is a lost art. We're dealing with very difficult issues and the discussion has been hijacked by too many who are acting only out of their self-interest and lacking the wisdom of history and the desire to look at something beyond their myopic point of view. Thus, we have too much posturing, finger pointing, and shouting instead of reasoned argument by people who seek first to understand.

Institutions, like the church are going to have to step up in major ways. More pulpits will have to have the courage to call their people to civic engagement without the limiting agenda of one or two issues that someone in Christendom has labeled as 'the issues' of the day. Are there enough faith leaders willing to lead beyond narrow parameters? And even if they're willing to lead is there anyone out there who has learned how to follow?

For people of faith I think we lead in the days ahead when we seek first the kingdom of God instead of trusting in the latest and best sound byte or headline.

The next couple of years should be very interesting.

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