This is a special election issue.  I truly believe that nothing matters more at this moment than that we Americans get this election right and early voting will begin in some states next week.  My prayer is that we can get beyond partisanship, and I have struggled with if and how to talk about our collective future in a way that honors a bi-partisan spirit while not neglecting the role of the church to speak prophetically in perilous times.  What I settled on is below—a link to an article by a card-carrying Texas conservative explaining his decision to vote for Obama and my e-mail response to him.  This is my personal reflection and does not represent the views of either the United Methodist Church or the Massachusetts Bible Society.


As a Bible passage to convey the sentiment, I turn to Galatians 3:28:  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”


First, here is the link  http://www.dmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?nm=Core%20Pages&type=gen&mod=Core%20Pages&tier=3&gid=B33A5C6E2CF04C9596A3EF81822D9F8E.  The title of the piece is “A Conservative for Obama” and it is written by Wick Allison, editor-in-chief of D-Magazine, which covers the Dallas, Texas area.  It appeared in D-Magazine this month.


Here is my e-mail to him:


Dear Mr. Allison,


Thanks so much for this piece, which I found through a friend's link on Facebook.  I'm a Massachusetts liberal clergywoman, so voting for Obama is a natural for me.  As a Democrat, I'm naturally pleased to see a conservative recognize the strength of this ticket.  But I appreciate your piece on a much deeper level than the vote it represents.  Shortly after 9/11, I began to notice that my friendships with Republicans were strained.  Issues that were once fodder for a fine debate shifted into a litmus test for whether I was a traitor to our country or not and, most painfully, whether or not I was truly a Christian.  I realized I was falling into a rabbit hole, down to a universe where intelligence and critical thinking were reasons to disregard a person's opinion and where torture was the mandate of God for our enemies.  When I said otherwise, my faith and my patriotism were put on the chopping block.  


During Bush's first term, I was angry, and while I saw clearly through the lies about Iraq, I didn't notice that I was swallowing the lie that such behavior was what it meant to be a Republican.  As the interminable Bush years wore on, however, and some Republicans began to speak out, my eyes cleared a bit.  We have not had a Republican administration over the past eight years.  We have had tyranny.  With that realization, I began to mourn not just the loss of my friends, but the loss of the Grand Old Party.  I remembered that there used to be real issues to debate about the role of government and how to balance state with federal authority.  There were substantive differences in discussions about trade and corporate practice and whether workers themselves should become a corporate counter-weight through participation in a union.  


I remembered those differences because my parents were Republicans.  Republicans who fought with all they had to allow the first black family to move into our all-white small town and into our all-white church.  They were Republican teachers who did not join the union at the high school where they taught and who worried long into the night about whether to cross the picket line when their friends went on strike.  (They didn't cross.  They served coffee.)  But by the time that my mother was being diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago, the neurologist came out of her exam and said, "Well, she did pretty well on the quiz.  She couldn't name the current President (Bush) but that's because she wouldn't let his name cross her lips!"  I remembered that, in the days when it was not treasonous to debate substantive issues and patriotism meant more than wearing a flag pin, sometimes I had been swayed by the particular package brought by a Republican and had voted for that ticket.


When John McCain won the primary, I initially felt some relief.  "At least the days of torturing people are done," I said to myself.  I thought that perhaps there would be a real choice between a Democrat and a Republican.  Unfortunately, that hope faded and was finally nailed shut with the choice of the inexperienced theocrat, Sarah Palin.  Now I go to sleep with the anxiety of Thomas Jefferson as he said, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever."


But, when I wake up to find thoughtful conservatives like you, willing to speak out to a flock of listeners that I cannot reach because I'm a liberal in Massachusetts, I have this...ummm...audacious hope.  A hope that, if we can send both this administration and the ideological tyranny it represents packing, perhaps the Grand Old Party can recover its roots.  Maybe the division will melt into difference and Republicans and Democrats can once again be both friends and sparring partners.  Maybe it will again be acceptable, even desirable, to have an education, read books, and be able to articulate the complexity of global issues.  Maybe I will no longer have to apologize for my nation when I travel overseas.  Who knows?  I might even wear a flag pin.


Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness and for your conservatism.  As I vote for Barack Obama in this election, in my own odd way I am voting for Republicans...for the one person who can give the Republican party a chance to recover its standard so that in future elections there might be real choice, real debate, and real democracy.


Those thoughts are not particularly religious, but they are very much a part of my faith.  There is nothing more important this November 4 than that you go out and vote.  And with something that important, there is nothing more important prior to that event than prayer.


Copyright by Anne Robertson, 2008


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