We're at six days and counting until we can collectively move on with our lives. First and foremost, I do hope you plan on voting next week. I don't care who you vote for, but the representative democracy system is a pretty good one [although I'd like to try a little anarchy sometime] so we should support it.
That being said, this has been one of the most painful election seasons I can ever remember. I've never seen so many accusations levied back and forth. It's not enough that I have to watch it back-to-back during every commercial break [including the cable channels] but that we're bombarded over the phone and direct mail. I need to attend someone's election celebration to get my hands on free boos so I can self-medicate from the last few months of craziness.
While I'll spout some political observations here from time to time, I'm leery of coming out and supporting certain candidates/parties/issues because it's not my thing. You might disagree, but I think it's a good idea for clergy to remove themselves from political endorsements. Each party has its own agenda, none is above reproach, and I'm not sure we would ever hear, "I'm Jesus Christ, the risen Savior of the World and I approve this message;" So allow me to sit back, relax, and throw out a thought about this midterm election.
Obviously, the issue looming large over this election is the Iraqi war. The Dems are piling on the GOP this fall, saying they led the country into another Vietnam. The authorization for the war was granted in Congressional Joint Resolution 114, which passed the House 296-133, and the Senate 77-23. Believe it or not, this vote was taken over four years ago, in October of 2002.
Do you remember what life was like then? They were excavating Ground Zero. The nation still longed for revenge. The President continually urged us to "get on with our normal lives." So we invaded Iraq and won the war very quickly. But the peace still has not been established and the US military death toll now approaches 3,000. Americans have forgotten the sick feelings surrounding 9/11 and turned on this war, wanting it over and done for.
But the reality is that, regardless of who we elect this week, it will not hasten the American withdrawal from Iraq. Even if the Democrats take both House and Senate [I predict they will get only the House], it won't change the current state of the war. We're there for a little longer no matter what happens next Tuesday. So the fact that both parties are exploiting the war and surrounding issues in order to sway voters is ridiculous.
It was popular to want to attack Iraq four years ago and now it's popular to bash us for going there in the first place. Just like the Republicans used pro-war commercials in '04 and kept the White House, the Democrats are rolling at the war for their cause and will see success in '06.
But here's the deal: check the links above for the votes on Resolution 114 and you'll discover that quite a few Democrats crossed the aisle to support the measure to invade Iraq. Regardless of how much these congressmen disagreed with the conflict, they felt it was a better move to side with patriotism and give the go ahead for war. If more of them had stuck to their guns and help party lines, the entire political landscape would be different today.
My take: if John Kerry had voted against the Iraqi War, he wouldn't be making dumb comments this week in California; rather, he'd be saying ludicrous comments from the Oval Office. If Kerry votes "no" on 114, he wins the Presidency in '04. His "yes" vote neutered his criticism of Bush and he didn't have the issue cornered. And if the Dems had stuck together, held their ground and voted "no," as well, they would have nailed down both Houses of Congress this year. That resolution could've changed political history. Instead, the Democrats left the GOP with some life, opening up the opportunity to keep some power in Congress and form a good run for the White House in 2008.
I think history will show that Iraq wasn't the best decision, but at the time there weren't many other options. Unfortunately politics muddles the issues and doesn't allow us to objectively look at the situation. The best intentions for our country will never be realized as long as we're stuck in a two party political system. That's just politics.
I know this sounds unlikely, but I think the events of this decade will lead to the establishment of a legitimate third party in American politics. It hasn't happened in over 100 years of American history, so it might seem unlikely, but it could be time. Ours and the next generation has been given too many choices for too long to be content with only two parties. And as people are more educated than ever before, and that the internet makes it possible for people to become celebrities overnight, the time is ripe for it to finally happen. Somewhere, someone will emerge to cast the vision that neither party is hitting. Maybe it's time for Monty Brewster to step up.
But one thing I know for sure: next Wednesday morning we'll wake up and go about our days and the world won't be different, regardless of who was elected this week. But Jesus will still be King.