First of all, my apologies for the dry spell in posting... I'm going to play the "work" card here by way of an excuse. The barn and the bookstore have kept me very busy for the past week or so.
I have been giving a good deal of thought, now that the primaries are over and my candidates of choice (John Edwards and Hillary Clinton) did not prevail, to who I will support in the general election. As a Canadian citizen, I cannot vote here, but hey, I'm also a Political Science major, so I feel obligated to educate myself. And that very often leads to choosing the candidate that you hope will win. So, here we go.
The McCain-Obama match-up means a very difficult choice for me, and for many Clinton supporters, I suspect. Each candidate has at least one characteristic that sets these supporters on edge. For example- Obama's inexperience and McCain's hawkishness. For me, because of these important issues, choosing a candidate is probably going to come down to one deal-breaker, one policy that a certain candidate supports or does not support that I simply cannot live with.
As I have been reading God's Politics by Jim Wallis and educating myself more and more on the issue, I have come to realize that, pending further thought, research, and revelations, I have found that deal-breaker. And it's the poverty issue, and what the candidates would do about it.
Poverty is possibly the single biggest problem in America and in the world today, and it ties into virtually everything. It's tied to the economy, foreign policy, and almost every domestic issue. The statistics are staggering. Over 13 million kids live below the poverty line-- over 36 million people. This is in the United States, the richest country in the world, ALONE. The numbers climb when you start talking about food insecurity (difficulty providing enough food for their families), housing, and health insurance.
As a result of the costs of the war in Iraq and other programs-- specifically the tax cuts-- instituted by the Bush administration, the already bad conditions for the poor in America got worse. There is pathetically little budgeting for the needs of our poorest citizens, because we're spending so much overseas and on the wealthy. On a related note, there has also been pathetically little spent on education, which is important to ALL youth, but it is especially important to give good education to lower-income young people, because it will be their path up and out of poverty.
As a Christian and as a human being, I feel that there is a moral obligation to help those struggling to get by. The Bible is FULL of commands to help the "poor and oppressed." Literally. As Jim Wallis points out, if you take a pair of scissors and literally cut everything about the poor and oppressed out of the Bible, the book will barely be held together. We are called to act with justice and mercy, and we will be held accountable.
Here's two verses in particular that I like:
Isaiah 1:15-18: "Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord."
Micah 6: 1, 6, 8: "Listen to what the Lord says. 'Stand up, plead your case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say.' [...] With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? [...] He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
This is why, after much careful consideration (with more still to come, of course) I am unofficially endorsing Barack Obama for president of the United States.
My primary reason for this is that John McCain is a staunch supporter of the Bush tax cuts. In fact, according to this article from the Washington Post, McCain would not only make the tax cuts permanent, he would expand them to cut taxes for corporations. So while those who can afford it-- the upper tier of Americans and corporations-- would be paying less in taxes, we would be maintaining an expensive war and the poor would probably be continuing to get slammed. This seems fair...NOT. "With great power comes great responsibility," so said Uncle Ben of Spiderman fame, and that in my opinion extends to taxes also. If you are blessed with wealth, you have the responsibility to take a greater portion of the tax burden so that those with a smaller income can put more of that money toward, say, food and a home. I know that many conservative Republicans will argue the trickle-down economics theory and stimulating the economy and all that, but I still don't see how putting money into middle-class pockets for mall shopping is more morally worthwhile and even fiscally sensible than putting extra money into the grocery budgets for low-income families. The money goes back into the system anyway, and giving money back to those who really need it is the moral, responsible thing to do.
I may have some of my facts mixed up here, of course, and I welcome comments and discussion from people who disagree with me-- or even people who agree with me. But I want to see change made on the poverty issue. There is no question in my mind that Christians and, indeed, all caring and responsible citizens, have a moral imperative to work for change on this issue, and it seems to me that unless John McCain changes his viewpoint on this, that a Democratic administration under Barack Obama would be the best way to accomplish this. I can only hope that I am proved correct in this.