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