Politics, Fear, and Third Party Canidates

 

When I told Bryan I was thinking of writing this post he was surprised. “Should I not do it?” I asked. “No, I think you should, I just didn’t think you had the guts.” He replied. “Neither did I.” I laughed.

That little bit of conversation gives you an idea about how nervous I’m feeling writing this post. I don’t really like conflict. I am not very political and honestly I don’t usually understand how fierce people can get over politics. Maybe part of why I didn’t understand it is that I don’t really agree with the fiery people around me. Maybe it’s partly because the issues people get fiery about aren’t usually the same issues I really care about. Maybe it also feels a bit pointless getting fired up about something when you really are quite powerless.

When it comes down to it, I feel like I didn’t have much choice. I always felt like my vote had to go to one of the two main parties and neither of them really resonated with me all that much.

In every Presidental election I’ve participated in my deciding factor when it came time to check one box or the other was this, “which guys better than the other?” Which is the “lesser evil”? But, honestly, is that really a good way to pick the person who’s going to run our country?

I consider myself relatively informed, especially in the last few elections, but I still would say that at the end of the day I didn’t vote for someone because I really supported THEM and their party and their stance on important issues, but instead voted for them because I thought they were better than the OTHER GUY. I didn’t vote FOR a candidate I voted AGAINST a candidate.

And when it comes down to it that’s how I’ve voted in all the elections I’ve participated in. I voted out of fear instead of conviction. The fear may have been different depending on where I was at in life and different influences. The boxes I ticked may have been different, but the fear was the same really.

Bryan and I try hard in our personal lives not to be driven by fear and not to make decisions out of fear. I don’t think I should turn around and decide who I’m gonna vote for now out of fear. This election I really wanted to vote FOR someone, instead of just AGAINST someone.

So, when a friend posted about isidewith.com on facebook I was intrigued. Here is a site where you can take a quizz and it will tell you which candidates you line up with best. I was intrigued. But, I was also skeptical.

I didn’t feel like I fit in any party. But, I also don’t really feel like the democratic party fit or always emphasised the things I really care about. I knew there were third party options, but knew very little about them and assumed they were mostly just extreme options that wouldn’t fit me either. So, I took the quizz, completely expecting to get a really mixed answer with low percentages across the board.

I was first surprised to find how thorough the quizz was. It covered a lot of issues and policies and even had a way for you to designate which ones were most important to you. And then I got my results: 88% Jill Stein, green party.

I was surprised. 88% is a pretty high percentage. It means that my views line up with Jill Stein and the green party view a vast majority of the time. After getting over my surprise that there actually is a party out there that for the most part fits with my opinions, my next thought was “I don’t know anything about the green party, well, apart from the whole Nader thing.” In fact as I thought about it all I was taught about the green party, and third party candidates in general, was that they aren’t good because they pull votes away from the main party candidates.

So, I started reading about the green party and was surprised again. Overall, there was a lot that resonated with me in this party that emphasized environmental stewardship, social justice, and equality.

Ok, I have to stop right here for a moment and tell you what happened when I got to this point in writing this post… I sort of freaked out internally. I set the post aside. I started rethinking posting this, but more than that I started really debating in my head the merits of voting for a third party candidate. I started feeling fear. And I started asking myself, why the heck am I writing this post and telling the world all this anyway? But, I worked through all that and I’m back writing again.

When it really comes down to it there’s two things I want to share and these two things are why I’m writing this post:

First, I hear a lot of people bemoaning their choices during elections, saying that they don’t really like either choice, but “this guy is better than that guy”. That really is no way to pick our leaders. Or at least I don’t think so and I don’t want to vote like that anymore. And really I’m realizing that our choices are only limited if we allow them to be.

As long as we vote that way and continue to buy into the two party system nothing is really gonna change. Third party candidates won’t be taken seriously and won’t be given a place at the table until people start to step out and vote for them. Truth be told voting for a third party candidate probably won’t change much in this election, but it could start changing things for the next election and the one after that. Because if they can get just 5% of the vote then people may start taking them seriously and including them in debates.

And really how bad would it be if either of the two main party candidates this time around won? When I try to rationally answer that question, well, not that bad or at least not that different.

Perhaps this is part of why the big parties promote such fear (and even terror), because if people believe that it’ll be “the end of the world” or something equally terrifying if the other candidate wins then they won’t risk “throwing away their vote” on a third party candidate. If they believe that the worst will happen if the “other” candidate wins then they will vote for the main party candidate closest to their views even if they don’t really agree with them.

Which leads me to my second point…. I don’t want to live in fear. And I don’t want to vote in fear. And I don’t want to be inundated by the opinions of those who do.

I’ll be happy when this whole thing is over. Because, whoever wins, God will still be on the throne after this election and at least all my feeds won’t be inundated with politics anymore (or at least not as much).

Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Post-Election thoughts and readings…

There’s been a lot said in the blog world over the last few days about the election. Some are rejoicing, some are mourning, some are criticizing and some are honestly processing. Today I feel thankful that most of the people I choose to surround myself with have been thoughtful and compassionate throughout this election and continue to be so now at the close of it.

Last night we spoke briefly at bible study about the election and we started to talk about how “terrible” it can be when Christians so vehemently and even hatefully attack the “other side.” But, as we talked I (we) were reminded that when we talk about others like that then we are no different. I was reminded that some people don’t have the same world view I do, they read scripture differently and they come to different conclusions, and that is ok. The same God works in them. They are loved and cherished deeply. I often fall into feeling superior and criticizing the “stupidity” I see around me, but in doing so I am not showing love, I am not acting as Christ calls me to act. So, forgive me Lord, and change me, help me to love like you love. Help me to be able to really see and understand and have compassion and love for those who are different from me and those who think differently from me. In Jesus name.

Ok, so I know I’ve done a lot of linking lately but here are some posts about the election and its outcome that I thought I’d share:

The Element blog page had some good things to say about this election and people’s responses to it. I especially liked Chad Demiguel’s post entitled, After the fact.  He writes,

“As children of God, our response to the world should always be one of faith, hope and love. Let’s be proactive about praying for this next president, whoever he is. Let’s honor our leader in how we discuss him in conversation with others, especially if we disagree with him. Let’s be the kind of citizens that inspire those who don’t know God toward citizenship in the City of God. If for whatever reason we experience the best or worst four years our country has ever seen, let’s do what Martin Luther prescribes. Let’s plant a tree – meaning, let’s daily create God-inspired aspects of His kingdom. Let’s constantly, lovingly be on the lookout for how we can bestow life to a country that needs it so greatly.”

Sean and CJ Bergemen also shared some revealing and insightful thoughts on the Element blog in their posts, My Heart on 11.05.08 – Part 1 and My Heart as well. CJ writes,

“He is glorified when we take hold of every action and every deed. When we show restraint with our words. When we use our words to build each other up, when we don’t assume that everyone does or should believe everything we believe. I wrestled over my decision up until the last second of voting, and asked God to direct me the entire way… The more I thought and prayed about it, the more compelled I felt to be less sure that any opinion I have truly is the ‘right’ one, the one that honors God the most. I will continue to carry a sense in my heart that I may have made the wrong choice, which will remind me that ultimately Jesus is always the right choice, and praise God He is on the throne, and not me, and not a politician.”

I appreciated this post by Jeremy at A Mending Shift, Hope vs. Fear.

Here is a Prayer for President elect Obama from Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes.

Here’s A Prayer from South Africa for Barack Obama.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Politics

So, this is an election year and as such I feel like I should join the band wagon and talk about politics a little (yeah, I know I’m joining late in the game, but better late than never, right?). Frankly, I’ve never liked talking about politics – I felt uncomfortable talking about politics. I think that is mostly because I have for most of my life been incredibly uneducated on the issues. I usually just voted whatever my parents or church or friends said I should vote and believed them…something I’m not really proud to admit, but there it is. I think the reason I really wasn’t educated about politics was that I just didn’t care, any time politics came up (which was incredibly rare in my circle) I felt like there wasn’t really a good option, like I didn’t really agree with any of the sides and like I could see good and bad in both and I just didn’t want to have to pick one. In the past I had a few opinions that I did choose a side on but the side I generally leaned towards wasn’t the same side of a lot of the people around me so I usually kept those opinions to myself. Then I moved out of the country…

Ironically, it took me leaving America to start to get educated and care more about the politics happening in America. I remember one of the first larger dinner parties Bryan and I had at our house here in Prague one of the major topics we all discussed was politics. I felt soo uncomfortable and unsure of myself and my opinions – I came face to face with my lack of education in the area of politics and decided then and there that I wanted to become more educated and figure out where I stand on various issues. And I was lucky, my desire to become more educated lined up perfectly with an election year, a year when politics is a hot topic and there’s lots of opportunity to learn.

Well, that was quite a while ago now… and frankly I still feel frustrated when talking about politics. Bryan and I have had a number of political conversations together lately which have been really helpful and interesting… it’s nice for me to talk with him about politics because I feel like he isn’t going to judge me when I say stuff and even if he disagrees with me he is still understanding. Really I still don’t know where I stand on some things. I do know that at times I can see good things and bad things in both parties. I do know that in general I care more about the issues and topics that the Democrats focus on (social issues) then the issues the Republicans seem to focus on (moral issues). I do know that my husband considers himself an Independent, who likes some things about Libertarianism, and I know that even though I can agree with him on some levels, our political views don’t totally line up.

I guess you could call me a swing voter…and I actually really like that. The whole idea of voting with a party line never made sense to me, really. I mean neither party completely represents my beliefs and ideals. And I think each election is different and each situation is different and I would rather decide each election what party I think is best fit to have office for the situations of that particular time in history.

So, if you are a swing voter like me and find yourself wanting to know more about politics in general and wanting to be more informed this election then I have some suggestions on sites to check out:

The first is On The Issues. This site helps you find out what all of the candidates (including 3rd party candidates) have to say about different issues. All you need to do is click on the picture of the candidate you want to find out more about and it will tell you their stance on each of the major issues. You can also search by issue and it will tell you what different candidates believe about that issue. It’s a great way to find out more about the candidates and to compare and contrast their opinions on the issues.

The second site I thought was interesting is this google site. It has a list of issues and then has quotes about each candidate that relate to those issues. You can stroll through a number of quotes from the candidates on the issue that you select.

I also found this site, FactCheck.org, helpful. They basically go through all the things that the two major candidates (McCain and Obama) say about each other and make corrections telling you what the facts actually are. I especially liked this page which lists all the major untrue accusations that each candidate has made about the other and telling you why they are incorrect.

EDIT: I just found this site, glassbooth.org. It’s a site where you put in the issues that you care most about and answer some questions and then it tells you what candidate lines up with your beliefs/oppinions most. I thought it was really helpful and encourage you to check it out.

And of course I would suggest you watch the debates as well. Bryan and I have watched all of the major debates so far and even though they have been frustrating to watch at times they have also been pretty informative and have helped us get a better picture of each candidate.

I’d be interested to hear what you all think of the candidates and who you’re rooting for if you don’t mind sharing. I know politics is a sort of taboo topic and many people don’t like saying right out what candidate they support , but if you are open to it I would love to hear your opinions. I also know that some people love talking about politics and can get very heated about it, so, please do share, but let’s keep it civil, ok? Remember that each of the candidates are genuine people trying to do what they think is best, and treat them with respect. And remember that the other readers are also genuine people trying to do what they think is best and they also deserve your respect.

Here is Donald Miller’s http://www.donaldmillerwords.com/  prayer from the Democratic National Convention. This is what I’m praying today as I think about the upcoming elections:

“Father God, This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future. We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation. We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy. Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left. Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them. Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions. Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle. Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education. Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony. We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help. Father will you restore our moral standing in the world. A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American. Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world. Help us be an example of humility and strength once again. Lastly, father, unify us. Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common. And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments – but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish. God we know that you are good. Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans. I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice. Let Him be our example. Amen.”

Rejoicing in the journey –
Beth Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.