Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hot Button Issues

This election is historic, let's put that on the table. Regardless of which party wins, we are in the middle of history. We have the first black candidate to make it this far as the nominee of a major political party. We have the oldest candidate, we have a female vice-presidential candidate, all poised to potentially be in the White House.

Other things make this election historic. Take the economic crisis and all the news that has bombarded us in the last few weeks. Government is set to essentially take over the nation's banks with Henry Paulson's recent meeting with the heads of the remaining major banks. The $750 bailout-rescue-save-their-behind billions for the AIGs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch's of investment banking has given my four-year-old a debt she can't repay. The hundreds of thousands of new voters ready to make their mark in the election booth. The usage of social networking, email, blogging, digital, interactive, and Internet advertising as alternative methods to get political messages out has been unprecedented. Yet, there is something nagging at me in this election.

First there is the race-baiting and hateful rhetoric at the McCain/Palin rallies. The black camera-man called the Jim Crow era derogatory "boy." There are the calls for basically killing Senator Barack Obama. The "socialists are taking over the country," verbal barrage of a man at a Palin rally and the old lady's insistence that Barack Obama is an "Arab" coupled with the uniformed police officer in Florida using Barack Hussein Obama as a slur. It all is a melting pot for violent social unrest and has the potential to turn this country into the era of the 1960s with attack dogs and water hoses.

Second, there is the misappropriating of my faith. I consider myself conservative when it comes to issues like teen sex, responsibility, accountability, finances, things like that. I am a hybrid in that I do believe God created the world but I also believe that God gave man intelligence to figure out the science behind the creation. I believe some would call that Intelligent Design. I tend to believe that it is the parent's right and responsibility to raise their children without governmental interference. I've listened over the past eight years as the neo-con movement has infiltrated my faith and uses codes such as "American" to signify that anyone who is not like them is not with God. It turns my stomach every time I hear a "pastor" say things like if you vote Democratic, you are not Christian, or telling their churches how to vote. There is separation of church and state in this country. Which leads me to the hottest of the hot button issues. Abortion.

The right-wing party tends to bring this up as a divisive issue. The Democratic nominee will be best for the economic interests of the middle class, church going, white family in say, Kansas, but because of abortion, they would vote Republican. This, despite the fact that the Republican president and the Republican led congress from 1994-2006 DID NOTHING to overturn Roe v. Wade. Why? Because the fundamental issue of the Supreme Court Decision is CHOICE. We have freedom in America and nothing is more basic than the freedom of body.

Do I personally want to see women get abortions? No, that is a painful choice that many women come to because of rape, incest, illness, or finances. We are not there when she makes that decision.

For the proponents of right-to-life, I have a question, where will you be when that poor, white or black teen gives birth? What kind of life will they have if the mother is economically strapped and uneducated because of been a teen? Will you put your money where your mouth is and support this young mother? Or do you believe it is just punishment for having sex before she got married? Or is it just punishment because you denied her the right to birth control and proper sex education through your faith-based abstinence only education? In my book, it is hypocritical.

I work with a group of teen girls as part of a group of Christians mentoring, tutoring, and disciplining at-risk youth. None of my girls are sexually active yet. I said yet because the possibility exists. We are in a country that is delusional about sex. One on hand it is condemned (think gays, lesbians, teens, etc) and on the other hand it is celebrated (think television ads, magazines, movie stars).

There are mixed messages sent to the teens. What I do with the girls is give them all the facts and my phone number. I told them the real deal about sex and the choices available. I am not giving them abstinence-only education because that doesn't work. If they are going to have sex, I want them educated, aware, and prepared. As part of my work with them, I told them about condoms (male and female) and showed them what a male condom looks like and demonstrated with a small roll of garbage bags how to put one on. I carry the bag in the glove compartment of my car if one of the girls wants one. Why do I do this? Because I want them alive and healthy without diseases or unwanted children. I believe, like Senator Barack Obama has stated, the discussion of abortion needs to be before-the-fact.

God, guns, and gays are the other three hot-button issues. The neo-cons have attempted to speak for God and say which candidate He would endorse. God is not a man that He should lie, neither is He the son of man that He should boast. God is not American, He is not Democrat, He is not Republican.

Guns are a big wedge issue. Like Senator Obama, I don't want to repeal the Second Amendment. Like him, however, I do believe there are very different issues between a hunting rifle in rural Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, or Montana versus an AK-47 or other assault rifle in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Detroit, or Washington, D.C. The NRA and the like try to tie together the flag, guns, the Bible, beer, and God.

Gays. This sends neo-cons into a tailspin. Who cares what grown people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms? They are not bothering me and are not bothering them. It is between them and God. They are not the ones who are heavily into pornography that destroys marriages nor are they the ones preying on young boys and girls as the neighborhood pedophile. Just another wedge issue to get the holier-than-thou-segregated-church-crowd all riled up.

The real issue in this election knows no religion, no race, and no sexuality. It is the economy. People are hurting. That is what I want to hear. This is the hot button issue and it is green.

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