By Joseph Walther
God-believing candidates are seemingly multiplying like rabbits, nowadays. Most of them have been locked in a virtual over-drive to let us know that they are believers. We voters demand it is what the media reporters and pundits tell us. Personally, I think it’s a lot of baloney. Here’s why.
First, the folks I’ve spoken to and heard from tell me that they don’t care about a candidate’s religious beliefs unless the CANDIDATE makes them a major hallmark of the campaign. It seems that religion is fine unless… there is too much it.
Second, mixing religion and politics can’t succeed in any positive way. This has always been the case because the two are utterly opposed in every respect.
By its definition, fundamentalist religion is a belief in the infallibility, and literal interpretation, of a particular religion’s doctrine or holy books. It has NEVER been about finding any acceptable middle ground. Nor, will it ever be.
It’s dogmatic. Absolute! No compromises. No wiggle room for discussion. You’ve either accepted Jesus as your personal Savior or you haven’t. If not, you’re NOT saved. You are not suitable to hold a public office, PERIOD! End of conversation.
For true religious fundamentalists, the Constitution is subservient to the Bible. The Ten Commandments supersede the Bill of Rights as a matter of dogmatic imperative.
Issues such as gay marriage and abortion are not debatable. They are not open to ideological compromise because they are forbidden by God. And those who deny it are sinners to be shunned, pure and simple.
On the other hand, the field of secular politics, by its nature, is one of consensus through compromise. It depends on non-boundary coalition building in order to forge solutions that the majority of citizens can live with.
Conservative politicians, particularly over the past fifteen or so years, have tried to forge this ideological abyss by promising things they can’t deliver. It will ultimately destroy them. Religious fundamentalists are neither ideologically flexible nor open to consensus building.
To such voting blocs, if “their” politicians can’t deliver the goods they promised, they will move on to others who will. Given no alternative, they’ll vote the “perceived” phonies out of office just to prove a point!
Liberal politicians—for well over multiple decades—have come off as distaining most religious ideology, particularly that of the fundamentalist movement. It is immaterial whether this is reality or perception.
It’s a matter of fundamental human nature to believe our preconceived notions. “When the myth becomes fact; print the myth.” So, too, when a perception becomes widespread enough, it BECOMES reality.
Governor Huckabee is an unapologetic religious fundamentalist and Barack Obama, while a Christian, does not share the moral absolutes of his fundamentalist opponent. Just the same, their respective wins in Iowa got my attention, albeit it for different reasons.
Their religious contrasts had nothing to do with it, either. It was their striking similarities as political candidates.
Neither comes off like a stereotypical candidate. Both unapologetically state their beliefs in straightforward terms, projecting a refreshing degree of sincerity and willingness to say what they believe, come what may. I haven’t seen this in decades.
And, even though I count myself among the multitudes of people who can be fooled some to the time, I believe the sincerity of both candidates is both real and refreshing. However, time will tell.
Both candidates have hit the big radar scope. Unlike campaigns of years ago, the press nowadays has anointed itself as the purveyors of “gotchas.” Reporters and political pundits alike, revel in catching politicians in a faux pas, regardless of how minor it may have been.
In turn, every news media outlet, every cable-channel talking head, every radio talk-show host, and every political analyst will regurgitate it for weeks, maybe even months, thus obliterating many substantive issues.
Additionally, every enemy either of these men has ever made, even remotely, will begin to come forward, placing themselves at the disposal of political opponents.
And, the blogosphere—right and left—will spring vigorously alive, solidly intent on either candidate’s total annihilation or ultimate victory.
The essence of politics has not changed for centuries. They still kiss babies when it’s feasible. And, they are still not opposed to stealing their lollipops if they have to. I suspect that this will never change as long as there is an American form of politics.
What has changed, though, is the depths to which many politicians will stoop to get themselves elected. It’s a no holds barred situation where negative—often absolute defamation and/or slander—has become the rule.
While we voters vehemently deny a preference for negative campaigning, it works. It if didn’t the politicians would abandon it.
So, either we’re lying about our distain for it or we simply can’t tell the difference between outright character assassination and honest, sincere issue disputes.
Either way, it behooves both of these men to remember that, even if familiarity does not breed absolute contempt, it most certainly will take much of the edge off of admiration.
What happened in Iowa has raised my interest level substantially. It’s far too early to draw any meaningful conclusions at this point, though.
But, it looks as though people in this country—at least those in Iowa—are beginning to see what we need in terms of political leadership.
We don’t need the same old political rhetoric promising change and unworkable solutions to age-old problems. This has grown as stale three-day-old bread.
We NEED a President who is capable of challenging and inspiring Americans of all persuasions to abandon their petty differences and concentrate on the finding solutions to those critical problems that divide us.
At least for now, Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama are refreshing in this respect. Maybe one of them can pull it off. Dear Lord, if you’re out there, please deliver us from evil… We can only hope. Time will tell.
Joseph Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. Copyright laws apply to all material on this site. Send your comments. Just click here.