Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I'm a Religious Voter, Too!

Lately, as the primary season ramps up, I've heard the phrase "religious voters" more and more often. Usually this is shorthand for a certain type of conservative voter. Among other feelings, the phrase "religious voter" used in this way makes me angry because...

I'm a religious voter, too!

The American College of Catholic Bishops does not speak for me. Dr. James Dobson doesn't speak for me. Neither Rick Warren nor Rob Bell nor Barbara Brown Taylor speak for me. The current presiding bishop of the ELCA, Mark Hanson, (a man I respect and admire), speaks for my denomination, but does not speak for me. As a clergywoman, I would not presume to assert that I speak for those who worship within the congregation I lead with regard to most political issues. (This congregation is also full of religious voters.)

As a religious voter, I care about:

  • The health of all Americans - This means, among other things, that I have concerns about the affordability and accessibility of good healthcare for men and women. This means I believe that an ounce of preventative care is worth a million dollars worth of cure. I believe that education and information about communicable diseases, including honest information about contraction and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), is helpful and life-giving. I believe that good healthcare for women, including (but not limited to) contraceptives, pre-and-post-natal care, information about heart disease and breast health, is key to the success of all communities. This is not an inclusive list of all my healthcare concerns, but the tip of the iceberg. 
  • Food and farms- I care about the continued success of family farms, real food, and balanced eating. I have serious concerns about the continued government subsidies of the meat and dairy industries, as well as the support genetic engineering of corn and its use in non-whole foods and non-human foods. I have serious concerns about the lobbies of Con-Agra, Monsanto, and others who are cornering conversations not only about food production, but land use and seed sales to other countries. I am concerned that the gap between people who eat "whole foods" and "processed foods" grows wider every day and concerned that there are costs associated with that gap that we will pay for years to come. This is not an inclusive list of all my food and farm concerns, but the tip of the iceberg. 
  • The poor and the very poor- The gap between the haves and the have-nots is not simply about some people sharing what they have. It's about acknowledging how our communities work. How we still use phrases like "across the tracks", "in the ghettos", and "impoverished communities" as codes for racial profiling and deliberate deprivation of community resources. I'm concerned that we have decided the children of certain groups "will never be able to" ____________ and we allow those children to believe that myth. I'm concerned that we hold up certain success stories as individual commendations without pointing to the communities, teachers, pastors, counselors, social workers, family members, and others who made that individuals success possible. No one is an island. This is not an inclusive list of all my concerns about the poor and very poor, but the tip of the iceberg. 
  • Standing- I'm concerned that the government gets a say in who can be married and who cannot. I don't think the government should have a say in this. In fact, I believe the government should treat everyone who pays taxes as an individual, with no commentary or reward for other relationships. I do not think corporations are individuals, despite their tax level. I do think all tax-paying entities, individuals and corporations, would be able to give more to charities if their tax burden was decreased. Charitable organizations of all kinds do much of the work that either the government cannot (or SHOULD NOT) do efficiently or that is not done by government organizations. This is not an inclusive list of all my concerns with regard to standing and taxation, but the tip of the iceberg. 
  • Members of the military, military action, and foreign relationships- I resent the use of members of the military as pawns in campaigning. No one wants to see people who volunteered (or were volun-told) their lives for this country lack for safety in combat, struggle with mental or physical issues, or be used as guinea pigs. All of these things happen. In addition to failing to protect our current members of the military and our veterans, I would like for someone to be honest about the commitments that have been made around the world with use of our armed forces. Someone, ANYONE, go ahead and take a deep breath and start naming names of where we have people and why. Be honest and say we won't leave Korea, Japan, Eastern Europe, or close Guantanamo and say why. The secrecy and the distortion of information has to stop. Yes, I believe there are things that are important for national security, but I also believe that national security has become a code word for dishonesty and misuse of resources, fiscal, physical, and human. This is not an inclusive list of all my military and peace concerns, but the tip of the iceberg. 

I'm a religious voter, too. These are but a few of the things I think about. Is anyone interested in my vote? In my concerns? In the future of America... or do you just want to win this election? 

I want a representative (presidential, senatorial, congressional, gubernatorial, mayoral, etc.) who is actually concerned about doing the right thing. Not getting votes, being re-elected, or having a pristine legacy, but about doing the right thing for the right reasons. 

You can tell me that's what all politicians think they're doing... the right thing, but I don't believe it. I'm not saying that what I want is the right thing, but if people who were interested in serving the public, instead of revenge through policy and rhetoric, I believe our campaign cycles would look and sound very different. 

Where's my candidate?!? 

I'm a religious voter, too. 


LoieJ said...

Very well stated!

Lisa Smith Fiegel said...

I agree with much of what you wrote, particularly around health care and food/farm issues. I have long been frustrated by politicians of all stripes who place politics and pandering ahead of the good of humanity. Sometimes I think I'm naive when I hope and pray that politicians WILL make choices that help people in need instead of their own campaigns.

This reminds me of all the interesting feedback we heard while traveling abroad last month. Suffice it to say much of the world is unimpressed with US politics and sometimes so am I.

Thanks for sharing this.