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2/15/07

the "three kingmakers"...

This article about Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson and their supposed influence on the voting patterns of "religious conservatives" made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. One reason it made me sick is that there is some truth to it; those men do have influence in national elections. The other reason it made me sick is that they shouldn't have such influence. I'm a Christian, as those men claim to be, and I suppose I ought to take them at their word, and I know that our identification with Christ ought to supercede other affiliations or values we have, but practically speaking I find I have little in common with them. To me, their endorsement of a candidate would be a reason for suscpicion, not support.

Also, in my experience, there are more and more "religious conservatives" that hold something closer to my outlook than that of the "three kingmakers." If the community at my church is any indication, the people that are becoming Christians are not older, socially conservative, authoritarian, and antagonistic to non-Americans. Rather, new Christians are predominantly 20/30-somethings, culturally savvy, suspicious of unchecked power, and recovering from the brokenness of the broken promises of the absolute value of "personal freedom." Like me, most of these new Christians don't believe that the Gospel of grace, freedom, and love ought to lead to politics of shame, fear, and self-protection. Yet, neither are we satisfied by those whose primary political platform is that they are against whatever Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson are for.

Clearly it's much easier for the political establishment to maintain the status quo than think or work outside the box. That means that one party is going to pander to those three men and the relatively large voting bloc in which they have attained prominence. And the other party is going to pander to their opponents. What would be amazing is if somebody would realize how many of us live somewhere between those two camps. One problem is, many (maybe most) of those in the middle don't vote, or at least not regularly. Of course, when one's main goal leading to election day is figuring out who you can at least begrudgingly tolerate voting for, it's pretty easy to just ditch the whole thing. Thus, it would be a high risk move to actually find out what's important to those of us in the middle and what our ideas are for pursuing those values. And, who knows if taking that high risk would lead to a high reward. Would we really vote after all? But, I dare somebody to give me (and us) someone to actually vote for.

6 comments:

Renae said...

I wish Dobson would have stuck to his promise to steer clear of politics. Frankly, I don't think he's done all that much to add to the conversation except become another talking head who gives non-fundagelicals and, well, non-Christians one more reason to roll their eyes.

And Pat Robertson. His primary benefit has been to give Jon Stewart a couple of very funny Daily Show clips. And to drive me toward the Democrats.

So there's some cynical boondoggle right back atcha.

W Sofield said...

I'm looking for that "God's Politics" kind of political leader, too.

Still looking . . .

Anonymous said...

Well..my first question would be did you really throw up? Because if not, you are already starting your speeches like those you protest, with fabriction. Also you contradict yourself - your opening thesis talks about "supposed influence", while in the exact next sentence, you say they do have influence.

Hmmm..was going to add more comments..but you really didn't go anywhere with your thoughts.

nickg said...

Anon,

I'm not sure what you mean by "fabrication." I assume you mean "lying." If so, I never accused Falwell, Robertson, or Dobson of lying. I was trying to say that there is a disconnect between the Christianity they profess and their involvement in politics. Furthermore, using a well-known literary device such as hyperbole isn't "lying," it's just description. (Do you accuse someone of lying if they tell you it's "raining cats and dogs" and then you find out that domestic animals are not really falling from the sky?) If you want to say it was a poor description, fine. It was meant to be funny because I haven't really matured beyond enjoying scatological humor.

I don't think I contradicted myself, though I may have been less than clear. Those men obviously do have influence, as I said. My mention of "supposed influence" was meant to set up what I wrote about later, that Christians or "religious conservatives" are a much bigger group than those that think like Falwell, et. al. For many Christians, Falwell & Co. do not, in fact, have much of an influence (or if they do, it's a negative one). Yet, because of their high profile, it is often taken for granted that they do indeed represent the majority of Christians.

It's entirely possible that I communicated myself poorly and that led to your misunderstandings. But dude, it's a blog. I don't exactly spend hours fine tuning my argument. Were those technical points of writing/argumentation really what you had a problem with?

Craig said...

Strange: despite the recent announcement of my intention to run for the presidency, I've yet to hear from any of these three.

nickg said...

Craig,

Even though you're wrong on the Kirk-Picard issue, I am leaning toward giving you my support.

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."