Both Republicans and Democrats will gather in the next couple weeks to nominate their candidate and kickoff the official presidential campaign season. What? You mean it hasn’t really started yet?
I’m already up to here with the vicious political advertising, the ranters on radio and the talking heads on TV, who demonize their opponent and predict disaster if their own candidate loses. Social networking sites amp up the rhetoric with charts, and videos from people aggressively supporting their candidate. It’s hard to imagine how the decibels can get any louder.
Frankly, I think the noise level is the least of our worries.
Consider what’s happening:
* Disproportionate influence. There are now more than 300 Super PACS (political action committees) in the U.S. Unlike previous presidential elections, deregulation allows these super PACS to raise unlimited sums of money for political purposes from individuals, corporations, and unions. Donor names are public and analysis shows fewer and wealthier people and organizations bringing a disproportionately greater influence on the election outcome.
* Disproportionate anonymous influence. There’s also a marked rise in non-profit 501(c)4 organizations. Like the Super PACs, these “social welfare” organizations can legally pour unlimited dollars into political causes, as long as it’s not their “primary” activity. But, unlike Super PACs, they do not have to make their donors’ names public. That’s why some political watchdogs call the contributions “dark money.” This means fewer, wealthier, and anonymous donors have a disproportionately greater influence on the presidential election.
According to ProPublica, a non-partisan watchdog group, two such organizations–Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity–have already spent nearly $60 million on the campaign, outspending all the Super PACs combined.
* Disenchantment and fatigue of the voters. It’s been a tough five years since the Great Recession began. We all hoped the hard times, the pain, the bumpy recovery, would be over by now.
At the gas station and grocery store, in church and in offices, a familiar theme underlies comments I hear about the election: Someone must be blamed. It takes the form of character assassination (on both sides) or repetition of a phrase lifted from something heard on a talk show or received from one of those pass-along emails. But if you drill deeper with them, many of those same people understand very little about the details of the issues or the accuracy of what they’ve heard–whether it’s immigration reform, health care, taxes, jobs or whatever. They just know they’re hurting and they want it to stop. And someone must be blamed.
This does not make for an informed electorate.
Bottom line? We face the possibility our next president will be elected by partially informed voters who are influenced by a few people with a private agenda who don’t want us to know their name. Are you worried yet?
So what does all this have to do with a blog that talks about life and faith and God? Everything.
While supporters of both candidates claim to be on the side of the angels, God is not a Republican or a Democrat and he’s also not a one-issue God. He loves the poor. He respects women and, in scripture, repeatedly fought for them. But he also loves the unborn. He loves justice. He loves aliens (immigrants). He hates things that are hidden. He doesn’t judge people by their wealth, position or the color of their skin. He loves outsiders and insiders, but has no tolerance for insiders who use their power unrighteously. He speaks the truth but always with love. And Scripture tells us to be like him.
So, selecting a president this November is complicated…because neither candidate scores 100 on God’s scorecard and because we’re still “works in progress” when it comes to acting like Christ.
Therefore, I have one request: When you go into the voting booth (and every day until then), lay down the anger, the war of words, the certitude that borders on self-righteousness. Stop and turn up your palms and say a simple prayer: “Lord, help me. Help our nation. We’re coming off the rails and we can’t figure this out on our own.” In God we trust.
Click here for information about a new app, created by MIT’s Media Lab, designed to judge the truthfulness of claims made by Super PACS in their TV ads.
Click here for information about a new app, created by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, that tracks the money spent in political campaigns.
Ask questions. Become an informed voter. Pray. Make your own decision.