I’ve been avoiding a long postmortem on the election, mainly because I wasn’t sure what to say. The reality is that just a little over half the population preferred President Bush. It may be because of “moral values” (a not so veiled reference to gay marriage and abortion). Yet it ultimately comes down to a belief that President Bush is better for the country. I disagree, of course, but I’m a part of the remaining 48 percent who didn’t prevail.
Here are some disconnected thoughts on the election:
1) I find myself extremely frustrated with the rhetoric of the Bush administration. The first words out of Vice President Cheney’s mouth was an attempt to suggest that the President has a mandate, citing the fact that the President received more votes than any other president. What of course is not cited is that Bush also received more votes against than any other president, simply because the voter turnout was so high. Likewise the rhetoric about the President being the first in many years to receive a majority ignores the reality that the past several elections were in fact three party races, with Perot and Nader receiving a much higher percentage than this year. The president won by four points. It is a victory for sure, and in our winner take all culture the president has been given the right to preside as he wishes. But, don’t call it a mandate for the 48 percent in opposition is not and insignificant number.
2) Several of us have noted the President’s comment that he is willing to work with anyone who supports his goals and/or agenda. It is rhetoric designed to suggest unity, yet to be specific about what he said is that anyone who questions the program is to be disregarded as inconsequential.
3) As I was leading a Bible study today on Matthew, I was struck again by the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. In the first temptation, Jesus is confronted by the need for security (the meeting of physical safety through the gift of bread). In the second temptation, Jesus is confronted by the need for significance (or as Nouwen says, the need to be spectacular). Finally, Jesus is offered power. Of course, Jesus rejects all these, suggesting that faith in God alone is enough.
I am struggling with the belief held by many believing persons that the President should be reelected because he would better meet the needs of security in our world. The fact is that most American’s put security above everything else, including faith. I do too, if I’m honest. But how do we understand Jesus teachings from Matthew on the Kingdom of God in a world influenced by 911? Are they simply too impractical in our world today?
I’m sure I have more to say later, but I’m too tired to write anymore. Y’all take care.