Monday, July 16, 2007

Obama on Faith, Edwards on Poverty

My entire adult life I've been waiting for a decent presidential candidate. A candidate that I'd want to vote for. A candidate I could embrace, instead of just holding my nose and punching in the lesser of the electoral evils. In my first presidential election I voted for Al Gore, but I didn't feel anything for him. He'd spent his whole campaign running away from a sure win by ducking Bill Clinton (wanted to prove he could do it on his own, I suppose) while at the same time looking more calculated than sincere. Leaving politics has been the best thing for him. Free from the constraints of winner-take-all elections, he is finally able to work passionately for the best for our country.

I didn't turn 18 until after Bill Clinton was elected to his second term as president, but I doubt I'd have had much passion for him in the voting booth either. Charismatic as any politician in recent memory, he is an interesting (and tragically flawed) person whose memoirs (derided by some for being so long) kept me up nights, entranced. But I can't think of very much that he and I agree on. That he is considered a "liberal" by so many is only proof of how much our country has changed in the last few decades. In moving the left to the center, he helped move the center to the right, making true liberals almost unelectable.

But now, in these dark days in the dregs of the failed Bush administration, I am finally finding politicians that I can truly embrace. Two of them, in fact. And that is the shame of it. Both Barack Obama and John Edwards are saying what I've been waiting my whole life to hear, rousing the ghost of the Kennedy brothers. Better than that, neither of them (unlike so many who try to appeal to the "secular left") are afraid of their faith. Instead they are willing to challenge the Gospel of the neocons with something that looks a great deal more like the Gospel I read. But, of course, I can only vote for one of them...

As conservative evangelicals have discovered recently, it is a mistake for Christians to invest Messianic hope in politicians simply because they speak the language of faith. While salvation may have a political component, it is not for politicians to give out. That said, check out this thoughtful piece on the faith of Barack Obama, from the Christian Science Monitor.

Meanwhile, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, John Edwards is following in the footsteps of RFK, touring Appalachia talking about poverty.

What I wouldn't give for an Edwards-Obama ticket, so I don't have to choose between the two of them...


crystal said...

neither of them (unlike so many who try to appeal to the "secular left") are afraid of their faith.

I posted a speech a while ago by JFK when he was running and it was all about how his faith wouldn't impact his decisions if president. But times have changed so much, that now it would be to a candidte's benefit to proclain his faith instead of the opposite.

I'm starting to like Obama more and more.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Rest easy, Chris. By the time the Kentucky primary rolls around, one of them will probably be gone.

Also, I think an Obama/Edwards ticket is likely. I think that if either finds they cannot win the nomination, they will work with the other to block Hillary and then team up after the nomination.

I like Obama's vision, but Edwards has far more workable detail in his platform.

Older than you, I voted for Jimmy Carter when I turned 18 in 1980. I lost and that was the last good candidate I saw. I finally "won" with Clinton in '92 and spent the rest of his 8 years trying to figure out just what I'd "won." I agree with you that Gore has come alive after getting out of electoral politics, just as Carter's best work (other than the Egypt/Israeli peace treaty) has been done since he left the White House.

Anonymous said...

"they are willing to challenge the Gospel of the neocons with something that looks a great deal more like the Gospel I read"

Do you really think of the neo-con position (social or foreign policy)as a "Gospel"? Do you really think the solution is a contrary position that more closely approximates "the Gospel" (reduced to its social teachings I presume)? Isn't this intertwining of faith and politics part of the current problem?

"While salvation may have a political component, it is not for politicians to give out."

Is there really any substance to this reservation? Especially considering that the arena of spirituality in this Gospel becomes national politics and not the alternative politics of the church community?


Sandalstraps said...


I will refer you to the comment that I left on the other post you commented on recently along with (as I noted there) this, groundrules for discussion, including the assumption of interpretive charity, something you sorely lack.

If you'd like information about my positions on politics or religion, you are more than welcome to follow any of the links on my sidebar and see any number of essays.

Incidentally, if your goal here is to persuade anyone of anything, then assuming that I (or anyone else) is a moron, and then making Strawman arguments disguised as questions (and questions that don't interact with the substance of any of my posts here) is a poor way to go about it.

As I asked on the other post, why, exactly, are you here? You can't seem to find anything here that you like, but you keep coming back, and you keep leaving antagonizing comments. I have to wonder about that...