I have never been terribly interested in politics. This might seem a strange confession coming from someone who graduated with a degree in political science. I am not sure what exactly drew me to the major originally, perhaps the fact that I really liked arguing–or, well, thoughtfully discussing issues with people. After serving as a summer intern in Washington D.C., however, I lost all hope that politics actually accomplished anything. Seeing the partisan biases and territorial attitude of so many politicians day after day was a clarifying moment for me both as a student and citizen. I felt quite immune to Potomac fever. (I loved the city itself, though. So many great restaurants!).
My apathy has remained fairly well intact until recently. The presidential election has captivated my attention, as it has so many Americans, in a way that I find quite surprising. It feels a bit like when you are waiting for your oil to be changed and pass the time by watching some random soap opera provided for your IQ-lowering entertainment. Thirty minutes ago, you didn’t know who Trish and Buff were and now suddenly you are breathless to discover if the Siamese twins Trish had are really Buff’s or those of his evil brother, Duff. I suddenly find myself utterly enthralled by the whole drama that is our election process. I’m completely hooked. But living in a fairly conservative area–this is like saying that penguins live in a relatively frigid environment–I have been carefully seeking all sides of the issues, not wanting to end up like one of our feathery Antarctic friends, huddled together with my kind, more concerned with the survival of my species than the greater good.
Fortunately for me, Jim and I do have a few friends that we greatly respect who lean a little farther to the left than ourselves. The day Barack Obama announced his running mate, I ran into one such couple at Bailey’s soccer game. While serving Cheerios to the youngsters, I asked our friends what they thought of Obama’s choice. I asked with a genuine desire to know, not in the way we so often ask questions of those who disagree with us. Per Jim’s recent post, I want to be strengthened in my own convictions through the thoughtful arguments of others or discover where my view is flawed and change my mind. One of our friends shook his head and expressed disappointment at the choice of Senator Joe Biden. He said that he had really believed that Obama wanted to reach across the aisle and start to change things. The phrase stuck with me through the rest of the day–“Reach across the aisle.” I can’t count the number of times I have heard commentators use that phrase. What struck me, though, was the fact that I don’t live on one aisle or the other. Jim and I would both consider ourselves social and fiscal conservatives but on other issues such as gun control and the death penalty, we would be more sympathetic with liberals. Our friends are greatly concerned with social justice but they are pro-life. So where does that leave us–straddling the aisle? What if you are neither red nor blue, but more purple? Where is the purple party–hanging out with Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? When you can identify with both parties to some extent (and neither completely), how do you go about deciding whom to vote for?
I believe I found the answer this past weekend, sitting on the floor of a Denver book store. Jim and I were attending a wedding in the Mile High City and made the most of it with a date night consisting of cruising Barnes and Noble and a dinner of Indian food. Jim called me over to check out a book on Barack Obama. I can’t remember the title but it was clear the author was not a fan of Obama’s. I skimmed it with an open mind, on the lookout for the glaring exaggerations and misrepresentations I find intolerable from any party. What I read, however, was chilling. It was related to Obama’s views on abortion and specifically the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. I recently learned about this act and the work of a former nurse turned public speaker named Jill Stanek (www.jillstanek.com). I have been shamed by my ignorance and apathy regarding this act and the abortion issue as a whole.
Jim and I really wanted to refrain from making this blog political but what Obama is supporting through his opposition to this bill isn’t political; it’s permission murder. I don’t want to use our blog as a forum for demonizing one political party or another, but I will say that I cannot in good conscience vote for this man. I strongly urge you to be your own means of persuasion, to look at the issues–and not just from the mouths of the candidates but by looking at their records. Whatever the results of your investigation, at least you can pull the lever with confidence in whom and what you are supporting. Who knows, if enough of us who are neither blue nor red decide to straddle the aisle, Violet Beauregarde just might win.