Monday, October 8, 2012

Politics

Tim and I are two different people.

I left our church, after hearing politics preached from the pulpit. Our pastor believes that Obama is a sign of the end times. He believes that the goal of liberalism is to dilute God's word. Etc.

What am I?

I am a person who believes that in the end, we will all be judged on our own lives. Our own. And this means that I should be worrying about my own life, and whether it is pleasing to God or not. I try hard to avoid condemnation, because your life is not my business. If you sit next to me in a pew, I will not question your right to be there.

It's a personal thing, and so, like I said, after hearing sarcastic and angry rhetoric from the pulpit, I walked out one day, and never went back. Tim goes to that church still. It bothers me that my opinion doesn't count, but I also do not want to stand between him and God. If God puts it in his mind to be somewhere else, I know Tim well enough that he will pick up and go, so I take a deep breath and put my own feelings on the back burner, and remember that I am married to a good man.

Now that the elections are 30 days off, things are getting heated. Rhetoric runs high.

If there is anything I hate, it's rhetoric. Rhetoric is trying to win an argument on emotion not sensible discussion. It's a slam dunk. It's a verbal slap. You don't matter enough for a discussion. The goal is to shut you down and shut you up.

Rhetoric is seen locally: "OBAMA =  Hitler" or "Biden boasts that he and Obama are going to raise taxes for the middle class." Rhetoric cannot be backed up. If you say, 'How are you linking our president with Hitler?' they could not do it. If you say, 'Show me where Biden boasted that he and Obama would raise taxes on the middle class,' there would be nothing to back up their words. That's what rhetoric is. Empty words designed to incite strong emotion.

I hate rhetoric, and I left a church because of it.

Last night, curled up on the couch eating a warm bowl of oatmeal for supper and watching the news, I said, "Have you decided who you're voting for yet?"

Tim answered, shortly, "Yes."

The curtness of his reply shocked me. I looked over at him. "We can't talk?"

He said, "I'm surely not voting for Obama," and the rudeness of his voice raised prickles of warning.

I said, "Really?" a bit surprised. Romney is such an elitest that it frightens me. So out of touch with the middle class, let alone the needs of the poor. On the same token, I am quick to say that I believe that there needs to be social reform, that there are people taking advantage of programs, collecting money that they shouldn't be entitled to, but I see Romney's off the cuff remark about 'the 47%' as a deal breaker. You cannot write off nearly half of all Americans before you are even elected to office.

Tim looked at me, flatly. I said, "...he's just so fake, like an actor putting on a..."

Tim snapped, "Your Obama is the fake!"

There was no point in continuing. He didn't want to discuss anything. He wanted me to shut up. I hate rhetoric, and there it was coming from the other end of my couch.

It was a quiet night. I didn't know what to say. Tim has always been a quiet person. He only discusses what he wants to discuss. We've been married for nearly 15 years, and I understand that, but this really bothered me, that we couldn't look at each other, see that we are good people with our own opinions, and discuss them.

Last night when I went to bed, I dreamt of a two headed snake. Tim had it, and I was attempting to control my fear of snakes as I watched it. Yet when I turned my back to go get a mason jar, I felt it hit the back of my neck, and the cold writhing of it woke me with a jolt.

16 comments:

Mary Paddock said...

Gary and I can't discuss our candidates either. But he refrains from saying negative things about my guy and, if he had a guy in this race, I'd refrain from saying anything about his. He doesn't like Romney much, but I suspect he's going to hold his nose and vote for him anyway. For the sake of peace I haven't questioned him on it. It is certainly not important enough to argue over.

I think the best we can do in cases where we disagree over politics is find some ground of mutual respect and stay there until the silly season is over.

A Novel Woman said...

You are describing, in a domestic setting, what is being reflected in the entire nation. We, your neighbours to the north, are watching the election with interest.

Hitler used rhetoric to great and savage effect. He used it to incite hatred. Whoever is in charge of the GOP agenda uses rhetoric to incite hatred for Obama. If people hate him, they can't think about his policies, they're not using their left side brain to think, they're using the right side to hate. It's all emotion based. Their rhetoric creates hatred and fear, or the love of God, and all of these strong emotions obliterate rational thought. So the left is trying to win a debate with rational thought, but the right is using rhetoric to eliminate the need for any debate at all. They just have to sustain hatred, fear and love of God through any new policy. The goal is not to win a debate, it's to stop free thought and create acceptance of a belief system. People think rationally and they think emotionally, but they can't do both at the same time. That's the basis of evangelical religion. Liberal minded churches (Unitarian, United, etc.) the ones who read the Bible and put it in its historical contest, release people from "the rapture" and the irrational love of God. That starts them thinking and that can't be tolerated.

People believe, without evidence, that Obama is like Hitler. How can a preacher, stand in a church, which is supposed to be about love and tolerance (i.e. the teachings of Christ) and spew such an anti-Christian message of hatred? It is an obscene distortion of Christianity.

I so respect you. I feel for you on this one, I do. I read your blog post out loud to my husband, who studies theology as a hobby, believe it or not. I can't imagine sitting on opposite sides of the couch on this one. Our politics reflect who we are as people.

Ultimately, Jesus says love your enemy. He's about inclusiveness and love. If I'm not your friend, does it necessarily mean I'm your enemy? Can I not just be neutral? Does this imply weakness? Do I have to be Left or Right? Black or White? I think that's a loaded question, in so many ways. Most issues have nuances and subtleties. There's a lot of grey out there.

Okay, any more of this and I'll need a glass of wine. It's the Canadian Thanksgiving and it's time to give thanks for all our blessings.

xoxo

Caroline said...

My husband and I are for differing political parties. We choose to agree to disagree. We do not attempt to watch political debates either. But we are happy in our disagreement.

Scotty said...

Been watching over here too, even though I'm usually not interested in politics - at this stage, I'd go with Obama because if Romney can diss 47% of his own country's people, I shudder to think what he might think of others around when it comes time for him to interact with others on a global stage.

Bob said...

I am sorry this has become so divisive for you and Tim.

I think you know you and I don't agree on the candidates. I do, however, so greatly respect your point of view. I wish you would not make a broad, sweeping statement such as, "Romney is an elitist." Rather, I wish you would say something like, "Romney, from things he has said, does not appear to relate to the common man very well."

Likewise, I can give you reasons why I will not vote for Pres. Obama but I will not make statements about him such as the ones you describe your former pastor making. I have great admiration for him but we have some fundamental differences. That certainly doesn't make him evil or a monster, nor does it make me.

I agree w you about the pastor and the day I hear anything like that in church is the day I will also walk out, whether I might agree from a political perspective or not.

I take issue, respectfully, w Novel Woman. I don't disagree that there is an extreme element on the Republican side that might have an agenda as she describes but I would submit that there is an extreme element on the Democratic side that tries to paint the GOP as nothing but a bunch of wackos. And that is unfair, just as is for a Republican to likewise paint the Democratic Party.

Call me unrealistic but I have come to the conclusion that there are decent, sensible people on each side. There are also people of faith on each side who will vote according to their convictions, seeing, as the Apostle Paul said, "in a mirror dimly," but trying to be true to themselves and their consciences.

Thanks for the food for thought; hope this is helpful.

Debby said...

I am not upset that Tim feels politically different from me. I am frightened by the fact that we as a couple do not know how to disagree gracefully. I think that I'm a person with opinions, but I also love to listen to other people's opinions. I understand that the whole world does not agree with me.

I see couples who are decidedly different people, but they accept the differences in each other. It frightens me that when Tim views things another way, he simply refuses to talk. I'm afraid that we will find more and more that we cannot talk about and that in the end, we will be sitting across a room looking at each other.

Caroline said...

Politics from the pulpit is illegal. I hadn't realized it and just read this article on CNN.

Caroline said...

Oops. Here's the link: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/08/pastor-heralds-success-of-endorsing-from-the-pulpit-challenging-irs/?hpt=hp_bn13

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mary Paddock. Agree to disagree and forget about it. Your relationship is much more important than the election or your opinions about it. Judy

Pudge450 said...

I am familiar with Romney's comment about the 47%. I did not see it as dissing them. He was only making the point that he realizes that they are in Obama's court pretty firmly because Obama is the champion of social programs. In what way is that dissing them? 47% is a lot of the population to be on some form of public support. I live in a poor state; and I see on a daily basis (first hand) a tremendous abuse of the services meant as a safety net - not a way of life. When you see government paid public service commercials on TV PROMOTING food stamps, things have degraded to an unacceptable place.

Hal Johnson said...

If you held a gun to my head and told me I had to choose between Obama and Romney, I'd choose Obama. But this time, I refuse to go with "the lesser of two evils." I'm voting for Gary Johnson. I really REALLY believe the two-party system is broken and corrupt in the U.S., and I think a strong third-party showing is about the only hope we have of shaking things up.

Johnson has long been one of the few prominent Republicans I've admired. I think he's honest and I think he has guts. He's fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I agree with most of his platform, with the major exception of doing away with welfare.

I don't think Obama is evil, and I don't think Romney is evil. I just think they're both part of a system that's not good for America.

It's a recent decision on my part. I haven't discussed it at length with Rhonda, who is a staunch Obama supporter. I'll let you know how that goes . . .

BUSH BABE said...

Politics... *shudder*
Maybe someone else had been hounding him about it? You guys (and by 'you' I mean Americans) get very extreme in your descriptions of candidates. And I note we are beginning to follow suite. Respect is integral to great leadership... we need more of it EVERYWHERE!
:-)
BB

jeanie said...

Ah, it is indeed a scary, scary world when we vote from fear and not for hope.

Over here, it is truly a joke. A friend posted on Facebook "Raising my children to be thoughtful and considerate, to have empathy and compassion, and to not bully or belittle... Clearly they won't be cut out for life in Australian federal politics."

I am sorry that politics causes two-headed snakes and mason jars - it has its moments over here as well...

Anonymous said...

When politics gets too much here and all on the media is comment and abuse, I silence it and put on some enjoyable music, classical or modern or have lovely peace.

We all should do our bit on voting day.It is one of the freedoms our young have given their lives for and that is one way we can honour their sacrifice. Here in Australia voting is compulsory, for you it is optional and I think that plus your fixed date elections that lead to such long, structured and consequently enormously expensive campaigns might add another dimension to the heat there.

We are all free to have our own opinions in our free societies, thank goodness,and we must allow others their freedom also.

Peace be with you Deb and Tim and just keep on enjoying the real and close things in life as you do. We can all choose what we will honour, and reject and not let the hateful enter our minds and hearts.

At times like this I think also of what Paul wrote -"Whatsoever things be good, whatsoever thinkgs are beautiful....and of good repute, think on these things." Don't let the venom take over.

Love Barbx

quid said...

I'd like to address the 47% comment... Romney characterized everyone who does not pay taxes as "not wanting to take personal responsibility".

So short sited... so elitist. From a man who paid 14% in taxes (I paid 18.5%). People don't pay taxes because they are retired, and have only social security to live on. People don't pay taxes because they are in college and their job as a cashier in a fast food joint ONLY requires them to pay payroll taxes (which Mitt no longer pays)...their total income for the year is less than their exemption and standard deduction. Some elements of the military don't pay taxes. Some poor women with a job and children ONLY pay the payroll taxes because their expenses are such a high proportion of their income.

These are scenarios that Mitt can't even imagine, much less relate to. They are so far removed from his experience. And that is the elitist thought that Debbie had.

We voted independently and for both Republicans and Democrats over two decades. Subtly, my ex-husband made a shift to the right and I will never forget the night I found a Rush Limbaugh book on his nightstand. From that time period, he became a hawk over the war in Iraq and on the far right side of every issue. I didn't agree, but he didn't try to win me over. Politics became an abyss between us. What had once been a spirited discussion of the issues became a cold and rude conversational gap. I admit to my part of it. For my son's sake, I tried to stay away from rhetoric that used profanity whenever Dubya's name came up, or sneered at his on screen behaviors, mannerisms, etc. Unfortunately, my husband didn't go with that plan and I suffered thru some tirades about Gore and Kerry... he wouldn't stop when asked quietly.

So the political gulf seemingly mirrored the rest of the falling apart of the marriage. I regret it.

What I don't regret is that in my short 90 minutes of volunteering, I registered 9 voters. One of them was my son. Now, I know he was highly persuaded by my ex, and that he will vote for Mitt Romney (thus cancelling me out). I don't care. I just want him to care enough to vote.

And, in Florida, that is not easy.

quid

Debby said...

To lump 47% of our nation together and to say he wasn't concerned about them concerns me mightily. He went on to paint those 47% with the same paintbrush. I can tell you that 47% of all Americans are NOT sitting on their behinies looking to be taken care of. Are people receiving paychecks from Uncle Sam? Yes. Yes, they are. Are all of them frauds? Are all of them looking for a handout? Are all of them voting Democrat because they believe that Obama is their only hope of getting a bigger handout? No. This is not true. I know it for a fact because I used to be part of that 47 %. Romney was stereotyping, and playing those stereotypes into the very willing mind of the members of the 53%. Romney was playing a very divisive card, and one that he came back later to admit he was wrong on. Defending him on an issue that he has apologized for does not work, Pudge (with all due respect.)

Here's my thought: I respect the opinions expressed here, but I don't necessarily agree. We all stated our beliefs here, and we all walked away on friendly terms. There was no rhetoric. Just discussion. That is my point. Things can be discussed in a reasonable way.