We have a new president…

bidenobama

I just have a couple thoughts in reflection on this change in American politics. Since Bethany says I have a habit of taking the wind out of people’s sails sometimes, I’ll say the positive things first.

1) This is no doubt a major historical moment in America. I haven’t seen the video of Barack’s acceptance speech in Chicago, but from Bethany’s description of Jesse Jackson and Oprah and others weeping, it gave me chills. To think that just over 40 years ago, black students were beaten and jailed for daring to eat at a Memphis lunch counter with whites, and this happened just two days ago? Amazing.

2) Barack is an inspiring figure, and the global celebrations that sprung up from hearing of his election is telling for the integrity of America worldwide. The world is tired of eight years of George Bush’s absurd foreign policy drama of crusading, unilateralism, and machismo. His us v. them and good v. evil policies have caused Islam to become more radicalized and made our world a more dangerous place. Barack will have a different foreign policy presence, to be sure, and the effect of that foreign policy all the way down to daily life in villages in the Middle East would surprise us, I think.

3)The neo-conservative agenda for governance and economics is falling apart at the seams. Alan Greenspan admits it, and not many others. The country heard the McCain fearmongering “Obama’s a socialist” claims and let it slide off our backs like water on a duck. Most reasonable people I’ve talked to believe that the best approach for a just economy is a mix of capitalist and socialist ideas. The days of McCarthy’s “red scare” don’t fly today like they did fifty years ago.

4)Obama has a VP who won’t be afraid to light a fire under him. Whoever else becomes a part of Obama’s cabinet (and I do believe he will surround himself with wise advisors rather than power-seekers or suck-ups), Biden won’t passively knuckle under to Barack. And that’s good.

The negative:
1) Obama talks out of both sides of his mouth on abortion. He claims to want to reduce abortions, spoke clearly of abortion as a moral issue, yet defends Roe v. Wade at every opportunity. I would like to see him navigate a centrist path for Americans on this where we can provide room for abortions in desperate medical situations but remove abortion from being a free, unencumbered choice like whether I get the chocolate or vanilla shake at BK. He claimed in the debates that no female makes that decision lightly. That’s laughable. A number of females treat it very lightly; as a way to remove the unseemly consequence from self-centered sexuality.

2) While I do believe Obama carries some strong doses of wisdom and discernment, he can run the risk of becoming a chameleon and pandering to whatever group he’s speaking to. An example of this is the Israel/Palestine issue. He studied up on the Palestinian people’s plight as an Illinois senator, dining with and listening to an important Palestinian advocate (Rashid Khalidi, whom McCain childishly attacked in his last desperate days), yet when he spoke before AIPAC (the powerful pro-Israel political action committee), he spoke like Israel was the only virtuous and suffering group. Which one is experiencing much deeper human rights abuses on a daily basis, Barack?! It’s clearly the Palestinians! Speak up for them on the world scale, and in supporting them, reject their extremist elements (Hamas) and help Israel and Palestine work towards peace as a gutsy leader. If you’re looking for mentors, call Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu. They’ve got enough guts to call the situation what it is. I’d like to see Barack make some gutsy, polarizing stands from time to time that make people pick sides. I don’t want this all of the time, just some of the time.

I have a video from Ralph Nader that I embedded below here where he gives some stern warnings about Barack. He offers some really important perspectives on Obama that will take some of the luster off the “golden boy” image.

3) Barack is a corporate president-elect now. A whole lot of his money came from corporations, and if you don’t think that came with strings attached, you’re about as naive as George Bush on that carrier in 2003. And if Barack wants to be re-elected, he’s got to get some things done for those corporations over the next four years if he wants to have a shot to win again. This will lead to him compromising significantly, hedging stronger statements by emphasizing both sides, and generally caring for corporations over the common person…that is, unless the people of America unite to force him and the Congress to vote a certain way like blacks did in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act.

So, as you can see, I’m conflicted about this guy. I think he’s the best leader for America amongst the two candidates, I think his VP is the best leader for America amongst the two candidates. If I had my druthers, either one of my two favorite leaders Ralph Nader or Dennis Kucinich would be in this place. They couldn’t get there because their integrity matters too much, so. *sigh* All is not hopeless, yet all is not peaches and cream either.

I’ll state this and hopefully a million times more in my life; the biggest hope for America is a citizenry that unites around issues of justice and equity and works consistently and passionately toward that end. Our present political system corrupts the very people who have the best ideas; they need you and me lighting a fire under them to make solid change happen. I’m still learning how to do that, but at least I’m trying, right?

4 thoughts on “We have a new president…

  1. Thanks for posting this, Nate. This is about the most balanced thing I’ve read anywhere by anyone in a long time. He’s been a media darling for some time now, and no one has pointed out his inconsistencies, all the while glossing over his shortcomings. I’m afraid the expectations are so high that there will be some severely disappointed people in four years. I’m hoping he won’t be a Hoover repeat, because I think he could push us in some positive directions.

  2. Nate,

    1. Absolutely!

    2. Don’t know yet till I see him in action.

    3. I would agree things are busting from the seams for a good reason. I had to laugh when I read Greenspans comment that he was surprised by the American people that he didn’t factor in their greed. I guess what we sow is what we reap on this one.

    4. Again I don’t know till I see it happen.

    Your next 3 are all right on target. More babies are going to die. There is no doubt about it. He will check how the wind is blowing and cater to the poles (maybe he will prove me wrong??). Lastly, he owes a lot to a bunch of hard core extremist.

    However, your final paragraph kills me. The biggest hope for America isn’t wrapped up in conquering social justice nor is it outlawing Roe v Wade or any other political issue. Our country needs to repent and put their faith into Jesus Christ. We can solve social issues, we can stop abortions, we can lower taxes but at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter if we are not glorifying God.

    If we want true change then it starts with Jesus Christ.

    I praise God that He has placed Barack Obama in power. He will use him to accomplish all that He needs. I thank Him for His sovereignty. I pray that President Elect Barack Obama truly seeks after the will of God.

    Congrats on your marriage by the way. Did you see Fireproof? Good stuff, my wife and I loved it.

  3. I’m confused why we (USA) are calling Barack the first Black president. He’s as much white as he is black. He pushed the images of his white mother and grandmother from Kansas more so than his Muslim African father who left him. I have friends who are mixed races (their words not mine) who feel Obama has deceived people.

    Obama didn’t grow up in the hood and work his way up to the position of the President of the U.S. The droves of African Americans who are electing “their president” have been led astray.

    I was not excited about either candidate but feel McCain was more of the lesser of two evils. Obama promised things (universal health care, stopping the war in Iraq, etc) that I don’t feel he can deliver on. I in no way am a devout Republican but the liberal agenda which will soon be rolled out concerns me as a Christian (and a voter).

  4. Alan,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I agree with Shane Claiborne’s comment that “No candidate or party fully embodies the values of God’s upside-down kingdom.” That’s my new motto as I grow and mature in seeing what role I play in helping the “city of man” seek becoming the “city of god.” My classical standards, Barack Obama isn’t a disciple of Jesus, and George Bush wasn’t either. We love choice here in America, and so we think we can pick and choose what we like about the Christian faith and call ourselves Christian. By my estimation, they’re both admirers of Jesus rather than disciples.

    We’ll see how well Barack holds up in the next few years. Certainly people’s idealistic hopes will be dashed, but if that’s what they were hoping for, a little dose of reality will be good for them. He’s flawed, but a better leader than the present president, so we’ll see.

    Wes,

    In reference to your comment, “More babies are going to die,” did you mean that in terms of “Barack’s policies will cause more babies to die” or “abortion still continues”? Because I could make the case that in paying attention to bringing hope and help to poverty-stricken areas, a “pro-choice” leader could actually reduce the number of abortions more than a “pro-life” free-market leader. Poverty is a massive, multi-faceted issue that deeply affects abortion.

    I’m not sure what you mean about Barack owing “a lot to a bunch of hard-core extremists.” By most measures, Barack is pretty centrist, which was one of the things that earned my vote.

    In terms of my final paragraph, social justice is ultimately a question of God’s will. When babies are saved, when children are fed, when families are healthy, when poverty is reduced, and when people’s health needs are met, God’s will is being done “on earth as it is in heaven.” As far as America repenting and putting their faith in Jesus, I would agree that that’s God’s ultimate goal for human society; knowing the reason that they seek justice and equity.

    True change starts with Christians motivating social change by our example; then wooing our society back to what they were created for. Example first, society second (in increments).

    Ryan,

    While it is true that Barack’s as much as as he is black, it’s also true that he’s as much black as he is white. It matters where you place the emphasis. I can understand why he muted issues surrounding his father; the guy left him behind at a young age. And while Obama didn’t grow up in the ‘hood and work his way up, he still faced poverty as a child and had to work hard against racism in this country to accomplish what he has. And while it makes for a good story, why exactly would a black candidate have to be someone from the stereotypical “hood” to be legitimate?

    I too was not excited about either candidate. That’s why I almost voted Nader. We’ll see how things pan out as far as the “liberal agenda” goes. Barack’s a mixture of different commitments. Thanks for your comments.

    Nate

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