Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A National Misunderstanding

I'm kind of an outsider, politically. I recently changed my status to "unaffiliated." I voted for neither Romney nor Obama. I look at the political landscape around me, and I see a war.  The election gives a false sense of a battle's ending. It's not ending.

We all know the nation is polarizing. The two sides (You cannot really call them extremes. They are too large to be the extremes.) are like strangers speaking foreign tongues, who used to live together and speak together. They really don't understand each other any more.

Take this article, "Mystery Unraveled: How a white, moderate, churchgoing, middle-class, middle-aged woman could vote for Obama." The writer purports to be someone just like me: pro-life, once a staunch Republican, feeling abandoned by that party. She looks at Obama and sees a man, a man with some weaknesses, but a president who deserves a second term to finish what he's begun. She doesn't believe he's a Muslim; she finds that ridiculous. She thinks the Obamacare model is reasonable (as did many Republicans not long ago, I'll add).

Basically, she looks at Obama and says, "What are you so scared of?"

Maya Angelou described her own reaction to Obama's victory speech: "I was grateful to see President Obama’s victory speech. I was over the moon to see the audience. There were about 60 percent white voters the other 40 percent were African Americans, Asian, Spanish speaking etc. I wept at that spectacle, it told me that the pundits that continue in our country to try to polarize us, to keep us apart, are not succeeding. Americans are waking up not only to the truth, but the truth in each other. Hallelujah!"

Well, that's a fine sentiment, Maya, but unfortunately, you're out of touch. The polarizing is in full swing. Check out this article. Since the election, petitions for state secession have been filed on behalf of twenty-three states. There are lots of people who can't stomach the thought of Obama as their president.

One thing I'll say:  both these women still see Obama's presidency as significantly about race. I don't know why. The man has never seemed black or white to me. He is, remember, half of each. He doesn't vaguely resemble the black men I've known in the South all my life. But for some, he is a black man, and he's in the Oval Office, and that's the most important thing to them. Evidently many people overseas are thrilled Obama was re-elected, because he's our "first black president."  Seriously? With all the troubles we have, there are people who are still all excited about the color of his skin? They might as well be excited because he is skinny, has brown eyes, or likes hamburgers.

Then there's the other side. I have many, many friends who do believe that Obama is a Muslim. I have many more who think he's probably one.  I have many who think he wasn't born in the U.S. They don't think he's just a bad president with bad policies; they think he's an evil man who has come to power as a result of many sinister conspiracies, and that his real goal is to strip us all of our liberties and turn us into vassals of a Socialist state in the next four years.

And I'm not joking you. This mentality is prevalent among many of the people I know in my general family/church/social circles. And they look at Obama, throw up their hands, and say, "Why aren't you terrified?"

It's extremely difficult to be in the middle between these two camps, but that's not my point. My point is that they can't even hear or see each other. And because the Obama camp won, the anti-Obama camp (I won't call it the Romney camp, because it was never really about wanting Romney; it was about hating Obama.) is more settled than before in their beliefs that the sky is falling, the world is ending, darkness is descending on us. In the week since the election, I've seen facebook post after post from Christians trying to calm their frantic, grieving friends in the horrific, dark days after Obama's re-election. They're desperate to explain how we can be utterly distraught and angry, and simultaneously peaceful and thankful since God is totally in control. 

I'm not sure politics used to be this way. Somebody is lying to both camps. People who think Obama's fiscal policies will produce a safe, prosperous America are deluding themselves.  People who think millions of murdered babies won't damage our people's souls, are deluding themselves. But ... people who believe that Obama is a secret Muslim born in Africa with a nepharious desire to transform America into an Islamic nation under Shariah law, to imprison all Christians, close all churches, and suck the life out of the country?  They're deluded too, deluded by their own media that has fanned the flames of hate to a blaze. The liberal media has its lies, as does the conservative. Each wants to push the poles apart. They've succeeded in this election, regardless of which side won. 

Whichever side you're on, I'd encourage you to read and listen to the more reasonable voices from the other camp. Assume for a few moments that they are sincere, that they love their country too, and that they might just have a few good points to make. If everyone did this, our nation would be transformed, and much of the hateful rhetoric would subside.


  1. MK, for me, it's not about race, it's about experience and Obama doesn't have any. Heck, I've got decades more experience than does he; perhaps I should be President!

  2. Now see -- to me, that is a reasonable argument. It's just plain fact that he did not have enough experience before he took office, and it has really shown, in how he's governed. That was, initially, my biggest argument against his first election. Now, it's simply his track record while in office. Good point, Sandra.

  3. This is such an insightful and reasonable post. I appreciate you perspective. I too feel caught between these two sides, unable to relate to either. You totally nailed it.


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