Things I Think But Don’t Say

I was in a meeting the other day, where the speaker made an oblique and gentle reference to the upcoming US presidential election.

And seriously, you could feel the room stiffen.

It was like everyone drew a sharp breath and thought “Oh please don’t go there…This only works if we don’t talk about it.”

Well friends, I think we need to talk about it.

I think we owe it to our Republic to talk about it regularly, in civil and courageous ways. Unfollow me if you want, but nowhere in the history of ever has polite avoidance of a difficult topic lead to understanding and cooperation. Never!

So here’s me going first:

I am a blue state native living in blood red Texas. I’ve been a registered Democrat since I was 18 because the values of the Democratic party better (not completely, but better) reflect my values than those of the Republican party. I am also an ardent follower of Jesus Christ. I work in an evangelical community in the Bible belt where the electoral college will make little note of my preferences. And I’m surrounded by people of the opposite political persuasion whom I love and respect.

This picture of me and Ronald Reagan is for them. (It’s a long story, ask me sometime).

reagan

1989.

And I’m voting for Hillary Clinton because I believe she is a stable, proven, tenacious, experienced public servant who is more than qualified to lead us. Read a list of her accomplishments here.

The Dallas Morning News agrees, in its first endorsement of a Democratic presidential candidate in 75 years.

“Resume vs resume, judgement vs. judgement this election is no contest.”

– Dallas Morning News.

And no, I don’t believe the rhetoric surrounding her integrity.

It troubles me, particularly as a follower of Jesus, how regularly and casually people use the word “criminal” to describe Hillary Clinton. If the definition of criminal is having been charged and convicted of a crime before a jury of your peers, then the descriptor is not only inaccurate but slanderous.

Relentlessly investigated – Yes.

Tried in the court of public opinion – Yes.

Charged and convicted of any crime – No.

I wonder what would people say about me if, for the last 30 years, my life was the subject of endless media scrutiny and unrestrained commentary from my enemies? Yikes.

What if every day at work, I had to publicly defend myself against a guilty-until-proven innocent narrative?

I’d probably quit and go live by the sea somewhere.

I certainly wouldn’t run for Senate twice and win. I wouldn’t serve on five Senate committees and nine subcommittees and travel to 112 nations as US Secretary of State. I wouldn’t sponsor legislation to provide for sick 9-11 first responders. I wouldn’t negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

But Hillary Clinton did.

I often use FactCheck.org which describes itself as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” It’s funded largely by The Annenberg Foundation (think public broadcasting).

Are you unsure if your favorite 24-hour news channel or Facebook meme is correct in repeating say, Trump’s claim that Clinton has no child care plan and never will? FactCheck.org is a good place to look. Politifact.com run by the Tampa Bay Times is also fun. These are journalists – not internet trolls – evaluating what exists in the public record.

Here’s a quick, measured read from FactCheck.org on the Benghazi reports, which former Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a leaked email, called a stupid witch hunt.

Here’s a guide to Clinton’s emails.

Here’s FactCheck’s take on Trump saying Obama was actually born in America, but Clinton started the birther rumor. 

And stuff like that.

The Dallas Morning News Editorial continues:

Clinton has remained dogged by questions about her honesty, her willingness to shade the truth. Her use of a private email server while secretary of state is a clear example of poor judgment. She should take additional steps to divorce allegations of influence peddling from the Clinton Foundation. And she must be more forthright with the public by holding news conferences, as opposed to relying on a shield of carefully scripted appearances and speeches. These are real shortcomings. But they pale in comparison to the litany of evils some opponents accuse her of. Treason? Murder? Her being cleared of crimes by investigation after investigation has no effect on these political hyenas; they refuse to see anything but conspiracies and cover-ups.

I agree. If Clinton had things to do over again, would she do some things differently? Wouldn’t most of us?

But here’s the thing:

If you support Trump because you don’t like the Democratic Party and you love seeing people like me apoplectic over the repulsive things Trump says, I get that. If you support Trump because he’s disrupting a political system that isn’t working very well for middle class people, I get that too. If you support Trump because he’s kind of pro life-ish these days, I see how that’s an alternative to voting for a strongly pro-choice candidate.

But in the end, do you believe Trump really wants to show up every day and work for your interests all the way through 2020? Why?

Will he work to overturn Pro-Choice legislation? Will he and his third wife restore family values? Does he really know more about ISIS than US Military Generals? Will he expand the middle class? What in his record indicates he gives a damn about the middle class?

I welcome your answers in the comment section. Really. Do your research. Be polite. I moderate trolls.

Did you know middle class incomes had their fastest growth on record last year? That’s big progress since the 2009 recession. Did you see Senator Elizabeth Warren eating the Chairman of Well’s Fargo’s lunch over the millions of fake bank accounts the company created since 2011. Also good news. ICYMI:

But you squeezed your employees to the breaking point, so they would cheat customers and you could drive up the value of your stock and put hundreds of millions of dollars in your own pocket. And when it all blew up, you kept your job, you kept your multimillion-dollar bonuses, and you went on television to blame thousands of $12-an-hour employees who were just trying to meet cross-sell quotas that made you rich. This is about accountability. You should resign. You should give back the money that you took while this scam was going on. And you should be criminally investigated by both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

– Senator Elizabeth Warren D-Massachusetts

Trump supporting friends – Has your kid has ever gone to the doctor free or at a sharp discount courtesy of the CHIP Program? You have a couple of people to thank for that, Senator Edward Kennedy, D – Massachusetts, Senator Orrin Hatch R -Utah and Hillary Clinton, who pushed for the legislation as First Lady. 

It saddens me that, in 2016, it requires a fair measure of courage to write a blog post about the presidential election. In America, of all places, that should not be true.

So I’m inviting you, without fear of censure, to disagree with me, to tell me where I’ve missed it, but I’m asking that you do so in a well-researched and measured fashion – something this election desperately needs more of. We owe it to our Republic to be lively, informed and engaged. Any less is an insult to the gift of democracy, which people in many places have died to attain.

Courage is one of my core values and I don’t want to look back on this season and wish I’d had enough of it to speak up.

The above thoughts are, as ever, entirely my own. Please help me understand yours below.

Where Do the Righteous Rush?

Author, speaker, blogger Jen Hatmaker, posted recently about the upcoming election. She took to task Christians on both sides of the political fence for cozying up to their chosen party’s un-Christlike shenanigans.

And, she was pilloried for it. (Pause here for a moment of surprise.)

Haiti 2010

(Photo credit: Cap’n Brian)

The week before, Hatmaker was in Haiti blogging on behalf of Help One Now a Christian relief organization, attempting to address, among other things, the conditions in Haiti’s tent cities which have earned them the nickname “rape camps.”

Did those posts go viral? Engender outrage? Nope. The response, Hatmaker says, was sincere but small.

Why are we comfortable with a version of Christianity that bears so little resemblance to Christ? What do we think we are doing? How can you call yourself a ball player if you don’t actually play ball?

“Yah, take that,” I can hear the non-Christians saying.

Well, wait a sec. It cuts both ways. When I was not a Christian, I still considered myself a socially conscious, defender of the poor. Unfortunately, that mostly meant I sat around with my socially conscious friends and talked about the problem of poverty, but none of us did that much about it. No ball playing there either.

Hatmaker considers this in thoughtful post about our priorities as followers of Christ – especially those of us to whom much has been given, ie: most Americans.

“It’s so easy to get incensed over American politics; that pill goes down like a dream compared to rape camp. Identify with Jesus in His sufferings? Pass. Identify with a political party? Sign me the freak up.”

Her post is worth a read for the solid reminder that God cares a great deal about widows, orphans and the poor. Hatmaker suggests that God cares less that we defend His honor during election season and more that we defend theirs in rape camps.

The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defense, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.” ~Life of Pi (quoted in Hatmaker’s post)