Super-Tuesday and my super-cynicysm… help me!

Consider the flowers...

First, I have to share this picture from our garden this morning. We get concerned about so many things. Elections. Finances. Our world at war. But look at this flower, adorning our orchid tree. It’s just happy to be blooming, and so glad to celebrate another morning.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? – Matthew 6

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Today is Super Tuesday. Ra-ra-ra; whoop-di-do. To be honest, this time around the whole election cycle leaves me feeling a mixture of cynical and embarrassed. In 2012, and for the first time in my life, I’m not that excited about my privilege to vote.

First, a little background. I grew up, as most of you know, in the south of England. The year I turned 18 was the first General Election after the voting age was lowered from 21. That made me, when I walked into the polling station early in the day, one of the first ever 18-year-olds to vote in the UK.

The next year I came to the USA on a two-week visit and never really went home. Consequently, by the time I became a U.S. citizen on February 15, 1985, I’d been effectively disenfranchised for a decade! Then it was all, “Pity the po fool” who let me know they didn’t care enough to vote!

I’d stand up at church, at school staff meetings and absolutely anywhere people would listen, and I’d say my piece about the right, the privilege, and the responsibility we have to participate in democracy. I couldn’t understand how anyone could live in a nation defined by freedom and fail to exercise the right that so many good people died to secure.

“Freedom isn’t free,” I’d say. “What we have here cost something, and I believe with all my heart that it is both disrespectful and dangerous to turn our backs on a freedom literally billions of people would give everything to enjoy.”

Tough decisions all around

NOT SO SURE: But now I have to say that most of us don’t have a clue as to what this freedom we celebrate really means. I’m convinced of this because I see people voluntarily giving away their freedom, with hardly a second thought, on a daily basis.

Decision 2012? It looks to me like the critical decisions have already been made, and it’s almost impossible to say “do-over.” I’m convinced that far too many Americans have already made the decision to trade their freedom in, exchanging precious freedom for another “payday advance” on what they may never actually earn. And students of history understand all too well that have those who have been given such unreasonable power seldom if ever voluntarily make the choice to give it back.

So I find myself asking the following questions:

  • What’s the point of celebrating freedom at the ballot box if you have made yourself a long-term prisoner to short-term debt?
  • Why celebrate freedom of speech when the only speech you listen to is so packed with lies and hate and half-truth that other freedoms are trampled on?
  • What’s so free about imposing our interpretation of government on other nations, rather than encouraging the kind of self-determination that gave birth to America?
  • And how is freedom promoted when those who make the laws consistently award themselves benefits and perks that are not available to the rest of us?

CONFLICTED: So I am honestly conflicted. Because a part of me is beginning to believe that all I do when I go to the polls is to put my stamp of approval on someone who has already sold out. Sold out to a status quo that quite literally robs the majority of its citizens in order to prop up an economic system designed to keep both wealth and power in the hands of a few.

Our much vaunted meritocracy seems to be morphing into a plutocracy.

How do we make a difference?

DILEMMA: So here’s my dilemma. How do I effect positive change? How do any of us? Does my vote help, or does it – more truthfully – give a nod to un-freedom?

I’m thinking out loud here, and I’m extra cynical today because it’s “Super-Tuesday” and I’m still jaw-droppingly amazed at the level of hypocrisy and baloney that needs to be shoveled away before it’s too late…

…But – in all honesty – I really am wondering what I should do…?

- DEREK

5 thoughts on “Super-Tuesday and my super-cynicysm… help me!

  1. Hey Derek,

    I get your cynicism. It makes sense and I struggle with the same sort of cynicism for this election cycle. But then I go back to how Jesus treated politic – basically he didn’t care. Couldn’t be concerned. Take a look at how he talked with Pilate – about the only governmental official he had interaction with. It was blunt, truthful and had nothing to do with politics. Even his answer on taxes – “Give to Caesar (IRS) what is Ceasar’s (IRS)”.

    The impression I get is Jesus’s attitude toward politics – “Whatever – meaningless in the light of eternity”.

    What he was passionate about was being in relationship with people who needed to know him and disparaging those who lead others astray. He saved his greatest compassion for those that society rejected and saved his greatest vitriol for those society claimed to be the most religious.

    So in light of this, how do you and I find a positive perspective for the elections? I have thought a lot about this and here is how I approach it:

    1. Know what I believe to be true – have a solid political philosophy (that includes economics, ethics, legal, foreign policy, etc.) and be willing to adjust that philosophy as arguments come and go
    2. Find candidates that best fit my political philosophy and vote in that direction
    3. Don’t get bent out of shape when my side doesn’t win, because in the end, it is my mission to be Jesus’ ambassador that is more important than my vote

    This last point is a tough one, but I think it is essential. Full disclosure, I am a right wing nut, full blown conservative down the line. However, up until last fall I live in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts for 27 years. There have been many times where the candidate or even the political philosophy I adhere to was all but forgotten. Hard lesson to learn. But I am more convinced than ever that politics is temporary. Our relationships to our brothers and sisters are eternal. Love God. Love People. That is the sum of the law and all that eternally matters.

    Gregg

    • Most excellent comment, Gregg.
      Good take on Jesus and politics, too.
      I appreciate your “right-wing-nut”ish perspective and value the prayers of people like you.
      Many blessings – DEREK

  2. There’s really nothing anyone can do as long as there are easily manipulated people voting. You can’t believe anything these politicians say because they double talk and lie until they get office and then they put their feet up or try to block anything another party member says. Take Romney for instance:

    “This is a president who has failed to put in place crippling sanctions against Iran. He’s also failed to communicate that military options are on the table and in fact in our hand, and that it’s unacceptable to America for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. … It’s pretty straightforward in my view: If Barack Obama gets reelected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change.”

    — Mitt Romney, campaigning in Georgia, March 4, 2012

    Ok, Mitt, i hear ya. now where’s the rest??? are you saying it wouldn’t happen with you in charge? no! he can’t say that because he has no idea how to keep iran from getting nukes either! he’s just blowing smoke, but there are people that are going to jump on that and vote for him because he just manipulated them by his fear mongering.

    remember in that debate when Dubbya said that he would never send troops into battle unless there was an exit strategy in place?

    as long as there are politicians and stupid people, there will never be any hope of a decent democracy or republic or whatever we are now. what do you call a government run by lobbyists with corporate backers anyway? just pick an evil and vote for him, and hope, as blindfolded as we all truly are, that you pin the tail on the right ass. (or elephant).

  3. For many years now I have resorted, in most elections, to choosing the person I perceive to be the lesser of two evils. That way I perceive that I’ve done my job to perform damage control and to minimize the evil that politicians wreak on us. At least I’ve had a say. I also recognize how significant a vote can be. When we had the Kennedy–Nixon election in 1960, Kennedy’s popular vote margin of victory nationwide calculated out to almost exactly one vote per voting precinct. So there you have it. Andrew Johnson’s conviction via the articles of impeachment was avoided but by a single vote, and that story about Edmund G, Ross looms large, ironically, in Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book Profiles in Courage.

    But we still need to be wary of the power structure that has emerged in this nation that exists for the sole purpose of perpetuating itself by acquiring even more power, We need to observe the warning that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. A little revolution now and then may be a good thing. Even Lincoln, in his Fist Inaugural Address, most properly stated that “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people that inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.” Eminent counsel, indeed. But methinks that the current conservative in the Republican Party (allegedly the party of the aforementioned Lincoln), would absolutely disavow Lincoln were he to make that pronouncement today. He’d be labeled as a traitor of the lowest order.

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