Drea’s previous post is pretty much dead-on. I’m excited about this election! Who’d have thought I would ever be interested in politics? I remember pretty much not giving a crap in the ’04 Bush/Kerry race, despite that at that point I was in college and surrounded by people who…DID give a crap.

Anyhow, I guess I’m just now beginning to feel a real sense of ownership about who I vote for. (Maybe it’s because now I’m actually earning regular income, and therefore more aware of how the government spends our taxes.) I also care about how our country is perceived around the world. (I heard it recently said that we’re making enemies faster than we can kill them. How true.) There are many things about America I don’t like, but many things I do, and probably even more things I take for granted. All things considered, I’m proud and grateful to be an American.

With that said, I’d like to share a few of my reactions to the way this election is panning out. While I’m all for free speech, I think some people just need to exercise a little more decency. I’m obviously too young to remember, but I bet there was a time when politicians and their supporters could have a decent, civil conversation about the issues they disagreed on. I guess we’ve always had bipartisanship here in America, but only recently has it seemed so excessively polarizing. A few examples…

– The way many evangelicals will not just write off, but publicly berate anyone who is pro-choice or for gay rights without listening to a word they have to say about other topics.
– Christians implying that Barack Obama is a terrorist and/or the antichrist based on his cultural ties to the Muslim world and because his name sounds like Osama. (I’ve heard this one in person.)
– “Political analysts” on news shows interrupting and even insulting each other just to get their point across.
– Preachers from both the right and the left abusing their pulpit (and tax-exempt status) by promoting or bashing political agendas.

It’s not necessarily the conservative or the liberal agenda that’s to blame; it’s when either one is blown out of proportion. There is no imaginable situation where this kind of extremism is appropriate. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I’d like to think we can disagree while still having respect for our opponents, maybe even recognizing that our opponents might have a few good points. My dad recently sent me an email thread between him and his brothers about the election. One of them invoked Tony Campolo’s view that conservatives and liberals actually need each other to ensure a healthy balance. I did some more research on this idea and found the context of Campolo’s idea here.

I think the fact that Jesus steered clear of politics says a lot. I think it’s the reason why political discussions immediately go downhill when someone tries to put God in their political party. We only need to look at Jerry Falwell and Jeremiah Wright to realize that both sides are guilty of this. It’s OK to have strong political convictions, but it’s not OK to say that God hates everyone who disagrees with you. I think our society would be more civil and productive if we didn’t take ourselves so seriously. I think it would also give us Christians a great opportunity to show Christ’s love for everyone, which is the main point anyway.