An Open Letter to My Conservative Friends

Dear Friend,

 

Before I get too far into this, I just want to make it absolutely clear that everything I’m saying is sincere and is meant with the best of intentions.  I have a history of making sarcastic, often mean-spirited posts about the practices of the Republican Party.  In recent days I’ve tried to change that, and I hope the readers of this post will recognize my change of tact and see this post for what it is supposed to be.  I mean no insult, and I certainly am not trying to gloat or rub any salt into any wounds.

 

Over the past couple of days, I’ve noticed some high tensions in my Conservative friends.  I just want to say that I genuinely feel for you.  I know what it’s like to have supported the losing ticket.  I know how bad it sucks when you pour all of your governmental passion into a candidate, you’ve fought to have his/her message heard, and you’ve maybe even PRAYED that they’d win, and then your candidate loses.  I know what it’s like to have the majority of the country tell you you’re wrong.  Shoot…I have that pretty much every day where I work, being a Liberal among a 99% Conservative staff.  I get it.  It sucks.

 

I am not going to say that I feel bad that Obama won.  In all honesty, I feel great about that.  But I really wish you, my friends, didn’t have to go through it.  Most of you don’t deserve it.  Most of you are good people who just wanted your candidate to win.  You weren’t the ones shouting “terrorist” or “off with his head.”  You weren’t the ones intentionally misspelling Barack’s last name with a “s” instead of a “b.”  You weren’t the ones slinging mud and tearing down campaign posters in people’s yards.  The people who did that stuff deserve to feel how they do — but the rest of you don’t.

 

I apologize for those in my party who are making your life a living Hell right now.  I know what that’s like, too.  It’s rude, it’s unsportsmenlike, and frankly it’s unpatriotic.  Mr. McCain’s consession speech was a WONDERFUL speech.  I really wish my party would have listened to it and taken it to heart.  He was kind, supportive, and forward-looking.  He didn’t try to rally the troops behind himself or his party; he tried to rally people behind the next President.  It was WAY more generous than I ever expected.  I wish my own party was being as kind to you in victory as Mr. McCain was to US in defeat.

 

That, however, is a two-sided coin.  By the same token that I wish my party had listened to Mr. McCain’s words, I also wish some members of YOUR party had done so, too.  There are some who are being just as crappy to those of us in the Democratic Party as our crazies are being to them.  Look, maybe for my past blogging sins, I deserve some of it…but I’m getting it from complete strangers who I KNOW have never stumbled upon my blog.  You don’t get to do that, and neither do we.  Things already SUCK in this nation, and we shouldn’t be making it suck more now by saying and doing the things we’re doing.

 

As a concession to all of that, my Obama sticker’s coming off my car on Tuesday (I think a week of celebration is still fair-play).  My avatar on Facebook has already been switched to a picture of ME instead of the Obama “HOPE” poster.  I’m trying to build bridges with my Republican colleagues.  I’m not bringing it up in conversation with people that I know voted for Senator McCain — though if people ask me DIRECTLY about it, I will express my satisfaction, hopefully respectfully.  I am not on the attack, nor do I feel the need to defend the victory, since there was nothing shady or weird about it.

 

I will say that there’s one aspect of what I’ve seen in my experience that genuinely bugs me, and that I think is entirely unacceptable.  There are those among my Christian brethren and sistren (which I know isn’t a word) who are invoking the name of God in a way as to win arguments, post-election.  I’ve been involved in a recent conversation where I witnessed someone I used to respect as a Christian leader berate someone else based on their voting.  The man said things that questioned the other person’s racial integrity, moral compass, and even their salvation.  To make matters worse, the person who was berated was a student and the man doing the damage was a professor.  I have not yet decided if it is more appropriate to confront this man or to simply go directly to my boss and the administration of the school.

 

Friends…you don’t get to do things like that.  You don’t get to abuse your power.  You don’t get to hurt people.  And (pardon the contradiction of words/thoughts) you DAMN sure don’t get to invoke the name of Yahweh-God to demean someone who just feels differently about health-care than you do.  That has to stop.  I am as yet unexposed to the Liberals doing similar things, but I’m sure it’s happening.  That isn’t right either.

 

On Tuesday night, for the first time in months, Senator McCain and Senator/President-Elect Obama had a similar message.  They both spoke of unity.  They both spoke of hope.  They both spoke of a better tomorrow.  They both, in fact, promised to work together with their colleagues of both parties to try to dig this country out of the hole it’s in.  I hope those weren’t just empty words to either of them.  I also hope those words can somehow find resonance with us all as we work toward a better America.

 

I have much hope with Obama in office.  Even the most Conservative people I know recognize the historical significance of Mr. Obama’s win and see it as, if nothing else, a major good sign of how far this country has come from a racial perspective.  Personally, I think it goes deeper than that, and that this isn’t just a symbolic win.  I think the country and the WORLD is going to change for the better.  I just hope those of us who are living amongst each other — especially those of us in the church — can embrace the goodness and end the hatred that has been so prevalent in recent days.

 

Thank you for listening, and I genuinely hope these next four to eight years are not as terrible on you as many in my party feel the previous ones were on us.  I hope you prosper and find good things in the changing times to come.  I also hope members of my own party, alongside yours will realize that change is not automatic, problems do not disappear overnight, and prosperity doesn’t happen without first having to sacrifice.

 

Good luck to all of us.  God bless America.  And all that.

 

-Derek

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12 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Conservative Friends”

  1. I probably shouldn’t. I really didn’t expect it of him, and it’s entirely possible he’d just been getting crap from Dems all day and just lost it. I don’t want to unfairly hurt anyone’s name. We all make mistakes–and I’ve been just as guilty in the past. Haven’t decided what to do about it…but it was really shocking and I feel like I at least need to talk to him.

    In fact, it’s probably poor judgement of me to even mention it here, but it bothered me enough that I had to say it somewhere. There’s not a huge crossover between people at SLCC and people who read my blog, so I felt like this is far safer than like airing my distaste for the situation on Facebook.

  2. I don’t know to which professor you’re referring – but I do know that I have been berated to the point of tears (which is saying a lot for me) countless times in the last 2 days. I’ve been told that I’m immature, and unGodly, and even (yes, EVEN!) unfit to teach my 2-year-old class everyday.
    It’s difficult to be told that my salvation and self-worth are affected by my governmental priorities and political standings. My opinions of both candidates is still the same, though I have profoundly less respect for those Republicans who treat me with less dignity than they would their unreached, Bible-less people groups…

  3. I’m sorry to hear that Angela. It always shocks me (and maybe it shouldn’t) how people use religion to be so crappy to one another–especially those of the SAME religion.

    Hang in there. If nothing else, take solace that a majority of the rest of the country agrees with YOU…and beyond that, hang on to the fact that most Conservatives aren’t as crazy as the ones who do all the shouting.

  4. Ultimately, people don’t like to admit they voted for the losing candidate. It feels like they have to admit they were wrong or their vote didn’t count. Well, I’d like it stated that they are NOT wrong. It’s Democracy at work and all the people decided, even if they didn’t all have the same outcome in mind.

    Nik had a post about being identified as CHRISTIANS first and not a political party that I keep thinking back to concerning this subject. Let me see if I can find it… ACK… He has hidden his search feature! That’s okay, I can find it anyhow…
    Blind Voters
    Nik said a lot of good things there such as “I personally believe that your belief in Jesus determines whether you believe in Jesus or not (as simple as it sounds), not your party affiliation.”

    Then there was this comment that stood out to me…
    “The agenda of the kingdom of God is greater than any of our political parties.” — Mike Pabarcus
    That’s a quote that should be up on a billboard. Anyone own a billboard?

  5. I’ve got a whiteboard. That get me anything?

    I like your point about people not being wrong to vote for a losing candidate. That’s a really good thing to remember.

    However, I get a little tired of the whole “our citizenship in in Heaven” thing. It’s true, and I agree…but it sounds a little bit like it’s dismissing the reality of what’s happening in the country to me — and I admit I may be reading way too much into it. It’s just that… Yes, our citizenship is in Heaven…once we’re DEAD…but at present, we’re ALIVE, and we live in America. So let’s live while we’re alive.

    That said, I do fully embrace and agree with Mike’s quote as well. 🙂

  6. I agree as well. From my perspective, though, putting hope in government generally leads to disappointment at some point along the line. Just be careful of all that…
    You may have heard of the book by Greg Boyd entitled “The Myth of a Christian Nation”…you would probably enjoy reading it.

  7. Derek,

    I read your blog on a semi-regular basis and this post was too good to pass up. Let me say a couple of things, and then ask a very sincere question.

    First, I am extremely shocked at the behavior of the professor you described. As a colleague of this person, I am embarrassed and ashamed of what they did, if what you describe is accurate (and I assume it is).

    Second, to all my Democrat friends (and Derek, I count you as a friend indeed although we didn’t vote for the same person): I understand the major frustration people have had with Republican and with George W. the last few years. I think he is a very good man, and a committed Christian, but he had been a very mediocre President, especially the second term. Just my opinion, though.

    Third, I understand all the hoopla for Obama. He is engaging, even mesmerizing at times, and presents a breath of fresh air for a lot of people, particularly African-Americans. So I get why people like him.

    So based on all of this, why aren’t I a Democrat? There are two major reasons:

    1) The abortion issue is a deal-breaker for me. As I read the Bible, I cannot accept a view – political or otherwise – that regards abortion as purely a choice. It is the taking of a human life that God has created. I know there are Christians that believe in abortion rights, but my own feeling is that it cannot square with my faith. What if Jesus’ mother Mary had been pro-choice?

    The Democratic Party has been pro-choice for the most part, which is why I don’t vote that way.

    That being said, I have to acknowledge that McCain had no intention of attempting to overturn Roe v. Wade, so if electing a Republican wasn’t going to change the issue, then the issue becomes a moot point. Roe v. Wade isn’t going to be changed anytime soon, in which case it doesn’t seem to matter what the candidate’s position is.

    One more thing about abortion – the way we change the culture as Christians is not to outlaw abortion; it’s to change people’s hearts through the love of Jesus as displayed in our lives. Christians should be at the forefront of adoption and pregnancy centers, and should be the first to provide unwed pregnant teens with a place to live and safely raise their babies. People would have a lot fewer abortions if they saw there were good alternatives.

    2) The overarching issue for me, though, is that I can’t agree with the basic Democratic philosophy that government holds the solution to our problems. My perception is that Obama wants to create a society where everyone is basically equal; if someone lacks hope they can basically count on the government to come and rescue them from their plight. I disagree with this on a basic level; I believe we make our own way in life through hard work, and “making my own luck.”

    At a very basic level, I think more government handouts and assistance creates people who cannot take care of their own needs.

    HOWEVER (and this is a big however) — The government has gotten bigger and deeper in debt over the last 8 years than at any time in the past…particularly with this last huge government bailout of the financial industry.

    So, my Democrat friends… I am asking a very sincere question: I would really like to know why you are a Democrat at the philosophical level. I think a huge number of people (of both parties) just vote on what they feel, or what they hear other people saying, or how their parents voted – many of us can’t articulate the basic differences between Republicans and Democrats. I would really like to hear your thoughts in your own words.

  8. OK, let me say a couple more things while I’m at it.

    First, while I don’t agree with Obama philosophically, and didn’t vote for him, I DO think that much good can come of his presidency. The rest of the world is certainly happy about the election, and that will be a good thing for our relations with the rest of the world.

    Second, all Christians should pray for our President-elect and our governmental leaders. Now is not the time for tearing down, but for unity.

    Third, see my own blog, and some recent posts about politics for how it relates to my Christian faith. The kingdom of God is not made manifest through either party…but rather, the church. There is a lot of corruption and a lot of good in both parties.

    Fourth, in my previous comments I probably sounded against government assistance. That’s not the case at all. My own family, when I was growing up, received assistance at times. But as a whole, I don’t think more handouts to people really helps them in the long run. It’s a good short term solution for those in need, but there are many people who could be making their own success, when they just sit back and let the government give them handouts. This is not helpful to anyone.

    Someone please tell me if I’m misrepresenting things.

  9. Thanks for the input Kent and Matt.

    My thoughts on the abortion issue are as follows:

    1. I AM pro-life.

    2. However, I don’t think the law’s ever going to change (therefore it’s a non-issue to me). George W. Bush was/is in office for eight years, six of which (I think, I may be wrong) had a Republican-controlled Congress. The issue was pushed heavily both times he was up for election. Yet there has been absolutely no change. Yeah. The GOP seems to be really genuinely concerned with that one, doesn’t it? Seems to me that if they were going to change it…they would have. I think they (and the Dems) know how big a powder-keg the issue is and they’re just not going to seriously address the issue with a new or repealed law. …and it’s actually probably better handled at the state-level anyway, if anyone’s ever going to tackle it in the first place.

    3. Basing your voting on one issue has always seemed irresponsible to me (be it abortion, war, healthcare, or whatever). Seems to me that if you agree with a candidate or party on all but one “pet” issue, it’s ridiculous to vote against them because of the ONE you don’t like. IE – I think Obama’s dead wrong in his thoughts on education. However, I agree with so much else that he says that I can get over that. (As I said, I also don’t agree with his stance on abortion, but that’s a non-issue to me…if anything, I’d use it as a tie-breaker.)

    4. If it came down to it, I wouldn’t vote to outlaw abortion anyway, for one chief reason. If someone wants to terminate her pregnancy, she WILL. It’s fooling ourselves to think otherwise. I’d rather it be done sanitarily in a hospital room than in an alley with a coat hanger and a vacuum-cleaner. …or by pill-overdose. …or by asking a skin-head to kick her in the stomach. …or whatever.

    As for why I philosophically agree with the Democratic Party… It’s a fallacy to think that they are the only ones who think that the government should be very involved in the lives of the people, especially in the age of the Patriot Act. Each party wants to control the people – that’s why they’re running – it’s the basic principle of govornment: “We will run your lives for you.” As much as we want to convince ourselves otherwise, that’s what government does. It just tries to make it look like it doesn’t.

    So…it comes down to issues for me. I have fundamental disagreements with Republican policies. Let’s do the list. Health-care, war, usually education (though, as noted, I think Obama’s off the mark), national security, taxes, federal spending…and onward. On all of these issues, I fundamentally disagree with the standard Republican stances. Not that the Dems are always 100% what I’m looking for…but they’re a LOT closer, most of the time. That’s what it comes down to for me, anyway.

    I’m not sure if that qualifies as philosophical or not…but I hope it clarified a few things… 🙂

  10. Thanks for the thoughts and/or clarifications, particularly on abortion. What you are saying makes a lot of sense. I will stick it in my thinking hat for consideration.

    Perhaps this post has run its course, but I would be really interested in hearing you spell out the differences between Rep’s and Dem’s on the various issues you mentioned. Not for argument’s sake, but for my own interest.

    It is not very important to me that people share my political views. For the most part I hold them pretty loosely anyway. It’s kind of like choosing a restaurant – I have my choices, others have different choices, but in the end what’s more important is to sit down somewhere and have a chat.

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