10/30/2008

Reasons Why Evangelicals SHOULD Vote for Obama

Evangelicals and the Election, Part 2 of 3

We have listed the reasons why I think that Christians should vote for John McCain. Now, it’s time to list the same for Barack Obama.

1. The War in Iraq.
Simply stated, the United States should have never gone to war with Iraq. Even under the most liberal interpretation of Christian Just War Theory, it did not meet the standards. For the first time in history, a country conducted a “preemptive war” and had the gall to call it “just,” and Christians, by and large, accepted it. It is now clear that the Bush Administration immorally drummed up the war with faulty intelligence. The U.S. Subcommittee on Intelligence issued a report stating that, “on numerous occasions,” the Bush Administration’s prewar statements “misrepresented the intelligence and the threat from Iraq.” Barack Obama was one of only a few voices that opposed the war from the beginning, warning against undetermined cost, length, and consequences, and said that we should focus instead on Bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He has been proven right. With the realization that the war in Iraq is actually draining us of our ability to fight our real enemies, we must now implement a plan for a responsible, phased withdrawal. Obama has a plan for doing so; McCain refuses to see this as a viable option. So far, the war has cost $566,591,361,000 and counting. The war is costing American taxpayers $10 billion a month! Do we think that money grows on trees? Couldn’t this money have been spent on health care, education, infrastructure, poverty or AIDS relief? Martin Luther King prophetically said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Also, for many Christians, being “Pro-Life” means more than being against abortion (though it certainly does not mean less). To be bull-headed about winning a war that we should not be fighting puts lives in danger unnecessarily. How many more thousands of our brave soldiers are going to have to die in this war? How many more hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians will die do to this war?

2. The Economy.
Solomon's plea to God in Psalm 72 was, “Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.” The Christian Right’s steadfast belief that government does not have the responsibility to care for its people is contrary to Scripture. The biblical prophets spoke frequently to kings and rulers, as well as to the powerful who have economic advantage in a society. Those in charge were the ones called to greatest accountability. A nation that does not care for “the least of these” is guilty of not fostering justice (mishpat) and righteousness (tsedeq). In a just society, those who are able to work must have genuine access to resources so that they can contribute to society as dignified members of the community. In a just society, those unable to care for themselves are cared for by the society. There is nothing unchristian about society having programs that help the poor and needy. I agree with Ron Sider, who wrote, “The biblical story holds together the inestimable worth of each individual person and the communal nature of human beings. Both the radical individualism of contemporary Western democracies and the totalitarian communalism of twentieth-century fascist and communist societies are one-sided perversions of a profound biblical balance. Therefore justice from a biblical perspective must pay equal attention to the rights of individuals and the common good of all.” John McCain seems to be living in the age of the cold war, where American individual freedom and unfettered capitalism were held up as the Christian virtues against those godless communists. Capitalism is the world’s best economic system, no doubt. However, the Republican faith in the “invisible hand” of the free market, in which individuals pursuing their personal self-interest will make for a good society, is seriously flawed. In fact, for the Christian, having this kind of faith in free market capitalism is idolatry, plain and simple. The economics of unfettered capitalism has proved to be destructive to society. If anybody doubted that before the Wall Street collapse, they must not doubt it now. While there is plenty of blame to go around for the recent financial collapse, a major cause for it is a pervasive desire for little regulation of business. McCain has stated unequivocally that he is "fundamentally a deregulator,” that his "fundamental difference" with Barack Obama was that Obama favored "more regulation" while he favored less. McCain’s chief errors during the Keating Five scandal that nearly ended his political career were underestimating the importance of regulation and relying too heavily on the slanted advice from corporate CEOs who benefit from deregulation. He has not learned his lesson. We need to promote “controlled capitalism” in order to ensure that everyone in America has the chance to flourish.

Also, John McCain wants to make the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy permanent, and has proposed even more on his own. Equitable taxation is not “socialism” as Sean Hannity has labeled it. The very wealthy should carry their fair load of the tax burden. Under John McCain's tax plan, the rich would pay much less than they do now, the poor and middle-class would pay a bit less, and the result would be that the federal deficit would grow, a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found. The rich would pay more under Barack Obama's tax plan, and the poor and middle-class would pay less. Contrary to the McCain campaign’s claim, Obama is not seeking to raise taxes. According to Business Week, Obama seeks to “hold most income tax rates steady, making permanent the Bush tax cuts for the vast majority of individual taxpayers. With those cuts scheduled to expire in 2011, he would allow rates for households making more than $250,000 (or individuals making more than roughly $200,000) to return to earlier levels. Earners who now pay today's maximum 35% rate would see their top marginal rate go back to the 36.9% in effect in the Clinton years.” This seems very reasonable in our financial times. It seems fair to me to let the taxes for the very rich expire as they were originally planned, reverting back to the 1.9% higher rate. The Congressional Budget Office projects that if Bush’s tax cuts are made permanent, the budget deficit will be $443 billion by the end of the next president’s first term. Let that sink in: Four Hundred Forty Three Billion Dollars in the hole! On top of that, McCain has promised to cut corporate taxes by a hundred billion a year ($4 billion of this for American oil companies, more than a billion for Exxon-Mobile alone). Not enough? Add in McCain’s promise to get rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax, designed to ensure that the very rich pay at least a minimum percent of their income in tax. Non-partisan tax experts put the ten year cost of this at $1 trillion. The McCain plan provides tax cuts to the very rich and to big corporations. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 25 percent of McCain’s cuts would go to people earning over $2.8 million a year (the top one-tenth of one percent). Each would get an average tax cut of $269,000, over and above what George Bush gave them. As Time Magazine wrote, “When Barack Obama says a John McCain Administration would amount to a third term of George W. Bush, he's not just blowing smoke, especially when it comes to economic policy.” It is time for a change. This cannot go on any longer. Barack Obama's economic agenda—health-care reform, infrastructure investments, and alternative energy—are not radical ideas but very rational solutions to the growing problems of our times.

Lastly, we must realize that abortion is an economic issue. Obama certainly is properly labeled “Pro-Choice,” but he recognizes abortion for what it is: a tragic moral choice often confronted by a woman in adverse economic and social circumstances (struggling as a single mother, without a steady income, without good employment prospects, without health-care guarantees, and a stigmatic and cumbersome adoption procedure). Obama proposes to reduce the incidence of abortion by helping pregnant women overcome the ill effects of poverty that block a choice of life.

3. Foreign Relations
In the wake of the Bush White House, the nation’s reputation in the world is at an all-time low. What we need now is diplomacy that will act less unilaterally and rebuild our alliances. The first step to our “loving our enemies” is to actually listen to them, to seek to understand them and why they are hostile toward us. Obama has been ridiculed for saying that he “will pursue tough, direct diplomacy without preconditions to end the threat from Iran.” Obama’s website further explains his stand: “Barack Obama will present the Iranian regime with a clear choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, they would offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, Obama and Biden will step up our economic pressure and political isolation.” On the other hand, John McCain’s combative tendencies are troubling. I agree with Fareed Zakaria when he wrote that McCain “wants to keep the battle going in Iraq, speaks casually of bombing Iran, and is skeptical of the Bush administration's diplomacy with North Korea. He wants to kick Russia out of the G8 and humiliate China by excluding it from that body as well. He sees a "league of democracies" locked in conflict with an alliance of autocracies. This is cold-war nostalgia, not a strategy for the 21st century.” The United States, as the super power, needs to be seen as a benevolent and good neighbor, not a tyrant that does what it wants whenever it wants. Barack Obama offers a new way that is desperately needed.

4. The Campaigns.
In spite of what the McCain-Palin campaign has been implying, Barack Obama is not a covert Muslim (McCain has allowed speakers to call Obama by his middle name) with ties to terrorists (McCain has succumbed to the Hannity-esque fear mongering over the non-issue of Bill Ayers) who has a radical agenda for taking over the country from real Americans (Palin has actually called supporters of Obama “un-American”). The McCain campaign has been disgraceful in its win-at-all-costs tactics. We need to rid our nation of the politics of fear, division, character assassination and the outright propaganda of Karl Rove and his underlings. This kind of politics obviously works – it is what got Bush the Republican nomination over McCain in 2000 (Bush and Rove shamelessly exploited the fact that McCain had adopted a daughter from Bangladesh to stir up racism against McCain in South Carolina, telling people in “push polls” that McCain had an illegitimate black child). After having been the victim of the tactics of the Republican political hacks, you’d think that McCain would have done the honorable thing and scorned them. Instead, he has let them run his campaign and he has let them tarnish a reputation that he had created that was honorable. This says a lot about the character of John McCain. Slander is not a strong enough word for what the McCain-Palin campaign has done. Christians should stand up and say, “Enough with hate-filled politics!” To his credit, Barack Obama has withstood a grueling campaign of attacks. Certainly he has stretched the truth himself (as all politicians sadly do), but nothing from the Obama campaign compares with calling his opponent un-American or a pal to terrorists. He has remained cool, even-keeled, and has provided thoughtful and reasoned responses and ideas throughout both the primary campaign and the campaign versus McCain. After two years of campaigning, Barack Obama has been fully vetted, and he has shown that he is ready to be President.

I think that if you are going to vote for Obama for any of these legitimate reasons, then it is a good, wise decision. However, there are some illegitimate reasons to vote for Barack Obama.

1. We have to move as far away from the Religious Right as possible.
A new generation of Christians does not want to be associated with the ugliness of the Religious Right. They are repulsed by the history of the “Moral Majority” and the “Christian Coalition;” they are scornful of Jerry Falwell and James Dobson. However, the answer to the disaster of the Religious Right is not to swing the pendulum and create a new Religious Left. I fear that this is what Brian McLaren has done, along with many of the young evangelicals with whom I associate through my ministry to college students. It should be said that Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo have always been thoughtful voices from the evangelical left, voices that we need to hear. But evangelicals need to be outside of partisan politics if we are to have any sway with either party. As long as one political party thinks they have our vote sown up, they will no longer listen to us. As Paul Sartarelli said yesterday at The Chapel’s Current Critical Issues Forum, “we need to strike a balance between the two Jims” (that is, Dobson and Wallis).

2. John McCain is old and may die in office.
As you drive into Cleveland, there is a huge billboard on the interstate that simply states, “McCain is old.” Okay; I knew that. He’s 72. So is my dad, but he’s a pretty bright man. Sure, my dad can act crotchety now and then, but I’ve been acting that way for several years myself! As The Politico's Roger Simon wrote, John Kennedy “was sick from age 13 through the rest of his life, was on chronic-pain medication throughout his presidency and had Addison's disease, an endocrine disorder that until 1940 was a terminal illness. Kennedy survived it through cortisone injections, which at the time only rich people could afford. Dr. Jeffrey Kelman, who examined Kennedy's medical records in 2002, said, ‘He was never healthy. I mean, the image you get of vigor and progressive health wasn't true.’ The point being: Electing a young person to the presidency is no guarantee that he or she will be healthy or stay healthy.”

3. McCain = Bush on everything.
Certainly, it is true that as McCain closed in on seeking to become the next president, he began voting more and more in line with his fellow Republican, George Bush. The “Maverick” voted 100% with Bush in 2008, but that number drops the further back you go: 95% in 2007, 77% in 2005 and 67% in 2001. One gets the feeling that in order to get the Republican nomination and to shore up the base of the Republicans, McCain was less reluctant to be “mavericky.” But voting records do not tell the whole story. It is clear that McCain’s policies on Climate Change, Health Care, and Torture are different from George Bush. And these are not small issues.

4. Obama is a transcendent figure that will change the world.
Bob Hyatt has had a running series on his blog that he calls “Messiah Watch,” where he shows YouTube videos and artwork from people who are placing a bit too much hope in a mere human being (see here and here and here). Nancy Pelosi introduced Obama at a fundraiser by calling him "a leader that God has blessed us with at this time." Oh, come on. We need to get a grip. Obama is not the second coming. Not even close.

Read all three part of this series:
Part 1: Reasons Why Evangelicals Should Vote for MCCAIN
Part 2: Reasons Why Evangelicals Should Vote for OBAMA
Part 3: McCain or Obama ? - A Plea for Unity

15 comments:

Rick said...

good article. I would differ a bit on a couple of your list of bad reasons to vote for Obama.

While I am voting for Obama positively, I think 2 of the negatives are important, at least in subject (if not how they are stated).

First of all to vote for Obama to move away from the Religious Right, while not a top tier reason, is still good. It would be the same reason to vote for McCain in 2000 when he was arguing against the Agents of Intolerance.

As a Christian, I think that one type of Christian has taken charge of a party and is trying to control American politics. There is nothing wrong with that (for them). But, others need to say, "No," and push back.

If they are trying to create a Religious Left, that is bad. But, to think that Christianists (in Andrew Sullivan's parlance) need to be stopped is appropriate. So, move away from the POWER of the RR and its influence, but don't try to create another Christian influencer. We all need to have less power.

Also, I think McCain's age can come into effect and be important, just as Obama's lack of record and experience can be. Because he is older, has a history of cancer and is hitting the life expectancy area of the chart, we should look at who his VP is. His age makes this important for many people, including important conservatives. If he had picked a strong VP, I think this would be less of an issue. If Romney were VP, McCain's age would be unimportant. With Palin, it becomes tantamount.


I would differ a little on #3, but I get your point. However, it is hard to tell who we would get... the McCain of 2000 or the McCain of 2008. It is a risk I thought about until the campaign told me which one would be more likely.

I do agree with #4.

Bob Robinson said...

Rick,
Thanks for commenting. We haven't talked for a while. I think that you and I are really saying the same thing as pertains #2 - that we must not to commit the same mistake on the left that has been committed on the right.

Yes, when you factor in the Palin selection for VP, it does change the age debate.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Bob. I appreciate your take for both candidates. In some ways I clearly prefer Obama, myself. And I'm at this point thinking that the Republicans have not been that serious over the years against abortion, generally speaking. But I must admit that though in some ways I'd be happy at this point to see Obama win, I won't be jumping up and down, or in any kind of despair, either way. (I have to admit, not voting for either is a temptation to me, as well)

I find your assessment here helpful.

Sam Van Eman said...

i enjoyed the post, bob. it's thoughtful, and after a weekend of being hounded by family members and family friends for sitting on the fence ("the mere thought that sam actually thinks this is a decision!), it's refreshing.

Byron Harvey said...

Bob,
Yesterday I stood in line 3 hours to do my patriotic duty. I appreciate your attempts at laying out a rationale as to why we ought to consider voting FOR the two major candidates, but I’ll tell you that my vote today, while ostensibly for John McCain, was predominantly cast in opposition to Barack Obama. You knew I’d tackle this post with gusto, so let me at it.

1. The war in Iraq. I am ready to concede that Obama was correct in opposing the war; for the record, I have never supported the war, though I’ve not opposed it strongly. Candidly, I didn’t, at the time, know what to think; time has proven this to be, I agree, the wrong front in the war on terrorism. That said, we’re in the middle of the thing now, and so while I’m willing to give Obama credit where it’s due, it’s another thing to ask which candidate is more prepared to assume office on Day 1 and do the right thing. I believe that Christians can differ on that question, but the call for me is easy: Obama is a naïve neophyte, who incidentally has been proven wrong on the “surge”, while McCain has a lifetime of experience in such matters. It comes down, on this question, to trust—and that’s not even a hard call for me, because “trust in Obama’s judgment” isn’t something I can give. More on that later, perhaps.

2. Your comments on economics, while undoubtedly well-intentioned, strike me as a mishmash of straw men, logical leaps, and blind faith (though I commend you for agreeing that “capitalism is the world’s best economic system, no doubt”; there may be hope for you after all!). The straw man (at least one of them) involves the overstatement about the “Christian Right’s” belief that government has no responsibility to care for its citizens; that’s a flawed premise that messes up the rest. On the contrary, “caring for the citizens” of the republic is an important task of government, but the question is “how”. Providing national defense is “caring”. Providing a just legal system is “caring”. Ensuring domestic tranquility is “caring”. And so on. The leap in logic (or one of them) takes place when you make the jump from Psalm 72 to government programs to help the poor and needy. The blind faith (or some of it) comes in when you assume, against considerable evidence it seems to me, that the government programs that set out to help the poor and needy actually accomplish that desired effect, or put another way, achieve that effect better than a private sector solution could (wherein accountability, seriously lacking in government programs, could actually take place). I confess to having very, very little faith in government—but my question is, how could anyone with open eyes have very much? Doesn’t the government screw up nearly everything it touches? And I’m talking both major parties, by the way; this ridiculous bailout is enough for me to get on the “Impeach Bush” bandwagon, frankly. Take a minute and watch this video, featuring Rudy Carrasco and others, on how government programs impoverish people:

http://www.youtube.comwatch?v=4MGYzhbKPDg

I won’t go any further with this segment, except to call attention to the canard of “equitable taxation” and the “fair share of the load” that the “very wealthy ought to pay; they already pay overwhelmingly more in taxes than do others, and these vague terms aren’t helpful, because as Herbert Schlossberg points out in his incredible work Idols for Destruction (which I was re-reading yesterday while standing in line!), governmental acts undertaken in the name of “justice” prove to be anything but “just”. I don’t believe that the way to prosperity is to tax the rich; it’s to lower taxes so as to stimulate wealth creation, and I believe that Obama’s “spread the wealth” philosophy (no, I don’t believe that was a slip of the tongue, like some other things he’s said that are), if not outright socialism, will take us further down that slippery slope. Why would we not believe that? He’s rated the most liberal Senator in the U.S. Senate, more liberal than Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist, making Barack Obama the most liberal major party candidate in history. The economy is a major reason to vote against Barack Obama.

3. Eye of the beholder, I guess, but again, McCain has a wealth of experience, and Obama strikes me as being in way over his head when it comes to foreign affairs. Plus, the questions over his judgment, as seen by his dubious affiliations (Ayers, perhaps not as big an issue as some would make it, but much more than the “non-issue” you label it; Wright; Rezko; Khalidi; his seeking out Marxist profs in college, etc.); I don’t trust his judgment, and national defense is too important, particularly in the world in which we live, to put in the hands of a neophyte like Obama.

4. You watching the same campaign I am? Look, I think that there have been fringe people on both sides who’ve said/done some outrageous things, but I sure don’t see the McCain campaign as being any more egregious in this regard than Obama’s campaign, and besides, this doesn’t strike me as rising to the level of the other stuff anyway. All politicians, as you suggest, shade the truth/outright lie sometimes; no politician can be responsible for every silly thing that his supporters say/do. Slander is way too strong a word for what either campaign has done.

OK, there’s my 17 cents…

Bob Robinson said...

Ted and Sam,
Isn't it frustrating when brothers and sisters in Christ equate your vote for President with your faithfulness to the Lord?
The goal of this series is to say that Christians can end up voting one way or the other, having given it careful thought in accordance with a Christian worldview. Far too many of us start with our politics and move that into our theology, instead of the other way around. We can certainly debate about how a Christian view of theology, political theory, and government should inform our vote, and should. However, there are illegitimate reasons to cast a vote (and I've tried to state some of those in these last two posts). I think that there are very legitimate reasons to vote for one candidate or the other.

ChrisB said...

1. Hindsight is 20-20. At the time, every major country believed Iraq was a well-armed. Now that we're there, we have to do it right or every life lost will have been for nothing.

2. I do not understand how people read the biblical commands to take care of the poor and find a call for welfare. The Bible consistently commands personal charity and helping the poor in ways that encourage self-sufficiency. Not only does government assistance not qualify, it hurts those who get money and those who give -- those who believe in private charity give 4 times as much as those who believe in government 'charity,' even though we all pay the same taxes.

It has also been shown time and time again that raising tax rate hurts the economy and costs jobs while lowering them strengthens the economy and enlarges government revenues.

Welfare has not been shown to reduce the number of abortions; the laws Sen. Obama wants to undo have. Under his administration you can expect a significant jump in abortion rates.

3. Given that he and Palin both have sons in the military, I don't think McCain's going to be too frivolous about going to war with anyone. Will he demand Russia and China act like civilized people? Hopefully.

4. CNN says the two campaigns have spent about the same amount on negative ads. The difference is Obama has so much more money to spend because he went back on his word to use public funding, so he gets a lot of positive ads too. McCain's playing defense with less money, so he ends up going negative in more of his ads.

Christian Voter said...

Great article. God is not limited to one party and He wants to be involved in our vote! Just pray before you vote! God will never lead you the wrong way.

Visit my site at www.praybeforeyouvote.org and purchase my book on Amazon or www.advbooks.com.

Rahab said...

I would definately vote for Obama because of his on-going transparent behaviors, and non-threating attempts while he has particapated in dramtic debates--extreme difficult circumstances.....and his ability of humbleness and his forth-rightness efforts for Change. There are many things he must learn; but his overall deamenor is one that characterises a simpathetic, evangelic behaved and straightforward up-holdiong man. He seems to aim high for intergrity--never have I seen him loose control, nor be abrasive in dabatible commenting before our nation-whcih at this time is in a vulnerable undiscisive state....Obama's Heart is in the right place....its not about power and politics-rahter finding cures, and hitting them head on he thrives for....and is incredibly Honest....which calls for alot in the political realm/ called politics! The only negative commenting I coudl possibly make mention of--Is he needs a small amount of proer direction when policies and Laws over taking anothers life--I am a thorough ProLife advocate...giving a cloice to save, rather than to destroy. Otherwise...He has my Vote!!!

Joe said...

You win and I'm I'm now voting Democrat...

I'm voting Democrat, because I'm way too irresponsible to own a Gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect Me from murderers and thieves.

I'm voting Democrat because I love the fact that I can now marry whatever I want - I've decided to marry my horse.

I'm voting Democrat, because I believe oil companies' profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene, but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn't.

I'm voting Democrat because, I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

I'm voting Democrat, because freedom of speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.

I'm voting Democrat, because when we pull out of Iraq, I trust that the bad guys will stop what they're doing, because they think we are good people.

I'm voting Democrat, because I believe that people who can't tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don't start driving a Prius.

I'm voting Democrat, because I am not concerned about the slaughter of millions of babies, so long as we keep all death-row inmates alive.

I'm voting Democrat, because I believe business should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as they see fit.

I'm voting Democrat, because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would NEVER get their agendas past the voters.

Happy voting!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Hilarious, Joe! I might vote for Obama, but it will be for none of the reasons you list.

Bob Robinson said...

Byron,
What a surprise that you’d comment on this post!!
Hey, wanted to tell you I saw Matt M and Jeff P the other day (they were doing a district meeting). It was good to see them!! Of course, we had to speak ill of you - what do you expect? ;-)

1. I find it interesting that those who would call Obama a “naïve neophyte” were the ones who supported George Bush in 2000. I voted for Bush then, being assured that he was going to surround himself with people who had a great amount of experience in foreign affairs. Of course, he surrounded himself with neoconservatives that had an agenda of their own for the world that I would later find frightening!

2. I agree that the debate about how government should “care for the citizens” is what is important. Yes, we definitely need to debate the “how!” The question is not whether or not government should care for people.

I absolutely agree that the government would not do a better job spending your money than you would. I agree that government MUST be limited. However, the issue is not as simple as a general call to reduce everyone’s taxes. The issue is to determine where government must be limited and where it is needed.

You're a terrific guy, Byron! But not everyone is as thoughtful and caring as you. I know that you'd chip in to pay for police, firefighters, and the military. I know you'd care for the poor and needy in our country. I know you'd pay for programs to help with education for the poor and mentally challenged. I know that you'd gladly pay for science and medical research. I know that you'd lovingly make sure our food is always safe to eat. I know that you'd make sure our bridges are not collapsing. You would certainly make sure every child would have the medical care that they need. However, I doubt that you have the billions of dollars to do all this.

Here's the point: At what point do we say that taxes are necessary for the common good, and at what point do we say that we are taxed too much? I think THIS is the question, not just a blanket libertarianism that says that we should let the individuals rule. Individuals are sinful (not you though! You will gladly and voluntarily pay for all these things), and will not pay for the needs of a society unless the people as a whole say, "We have a social contract with each other -- let's take care of each other." But, yes, the debate is about exactly where this needs to end. Most of the time, there are other institutions and businesses that most likely will do the job, and government must not be the end-all, be-all solution to our society's needs.

You say, “I don’t believe that the way to prosperity is to tax the rich; it’s to lower taxes so as to stimulate wealth creation.” Well, that’s your opinion. It’s been the prevailing economic theory for the past 30 years (starting with Reagan and continued under Greenspan). However, the theory has had its chance, and now in light of the Wall Street collapse, it might be time to try a different theory. This election is becoming a clear repudiation of conservative economic ideas. As The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne recently wrote, “For years, Republicans have argued that the way to help struggling working people is to give more money to the wealthy. Obama is saying that we should cut out the middleman and help working people directly. My hunch is that Obama's argument will prevail, and that conservatives will then work overtime to try to deny the judgment that the people have rendered.”

3. I have to say it again: When you imply that a person running for the highest office in the land is a covert terrorist, you have slandered him.

Byron Harvey said...

Yeah, Bob, Matt told me that you guys met, and that my name was taken repeatedly in vain.

I'd expect nothing less from my friends.

OK, just a few follow-ups. Bush had areas of inexperience, to be sure, but running the state of Texas, after being a businessman, surely trumps Obama's meager record, does it not? What has this man honestly done that qualifies him to be president, other than to make some articulate speeches (and defeat the Clinton machine, an admittedly-impressive task)? I mean, he talks about a lot of stuff, but what does his record show? Sarah Palin doesn't have a lot of experience, but at least she has some accomplishments; what, pray tell, has this man really ever accomplished? I think that his "charm" and speechmaking abilities obscure his unimpressive list of accomplishments; aren't there 10,000 Americans more qualified to be president than he?

Nobody argues (well, not anybody with any sense) that we shouldn't be taxed, Bob, but the questions ought to be:

1. What is the constitutional size/scope of the federal government? I mean, would Jefferson and Washington and Adams recognize this country as the America they birthed? You kiddin'?

2. What things that the government attempts to do NEED to be done?

3. What things that the government attempts to do could be done much more efficiently/effectively if in the hands of the private sector?

If we passed every proposal through that grid, we'd dramatically reduce taxes, and I'd argue, dramatically increase the quality of our living (at least for people who are willing to work, and to not be a leech on society).

And Bob, I'd say that the last 30 years have been pretty darn good economically! America has had many years of significant prosperity. My stars, isn't that obvious? Yeah, we're experiencing some hard times right now, but not because taxes were lowered; there are several key contributing factors to the whole Wall Street debacle that we're seeing (Barney Frank and Chris Dodd should be drawn and quartered for starters), but lower taxes? And sheesh, Bob, why are your quotes always from the NY Times and the E.J. Dionne's of society? At least they seem to be. Dionne uses the word "egalitarian" approvingly; that should be enough in and of itself to send thoughtful Christians running for cover.

Finally, I don't know who's implying that Obama is a "covert terrorist". I've listened to the rightest of the right-wing talk radio guys (to the degree that I can stand them), and that's not what I hear implied. What I hear implied is that Barack Obama has displayed a stunning lack of judgment in aligning himself with these types of individuals. That's the issue, that's why I call him "naive", not the idea that he's a terrorist in waiting, and I have heard exactly nobody suggest the latter.

Bob Robinson said...

The McCain campaign is wise enough to not come right out and say what they want people to believe. They put one line in about "Barack Obama's judgment," but the ads are meant to frighten people. The campaign strategy is to create doubts that Obama is a real American patriot and paint him as a covert radical. Palin said he "pals around with terrorists," when he does not. A web ad said, "Barack Obama and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. Friends. They've worked together for years. But Obama tries to hide it. Why?" Let's scare people! This Obama is dangerous!!

On top of this, they are calling Obama's tax plan "socialist" when McCain has said just a few years ago that higher taxation for the rich is a good thing. See this video, where McCain, responding to a student who accused him of socialism, says, "Here's what I really believe: When you reach a certain level of comfort, there is nothing wrong with paying somewhat more." McCain, the "Maverick" was once against the Bush tax cuts. Now, he is for making them permanent. Tim Russert called him out on his flip-flop on tax cuts for the rich. This is not just disingenuous, it is seeking to paint Obama as anti-American.

And now they are bringing in Rashid Khalidi. He is another frightening guy!! Be very scared, boys and girls!! This man is so frightening that an organization that McCain chairs granted Khalidi $448,000.

Bob Robinson said...

Joe,
Thanks for participating in the conversation. I just want to point out a few misperceptions:


I'm voting Democrat, because I'm way too irresponsible to own a Gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect Me from murderers and thieves.

>>It should be noted that Obama has said on more than one occasion that as a constitutional law professor, he has studied the second amendment and is convinced that gun ownership "is an individual right and not just the right of a militia."

____

I'm voting Democrat because I love the fact that I can now marry whatever I want - I've decided to marry my horse.

>> Obama has clearly stated that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. You should read his response to Pastor Rick Warren. When Rick Warren asked Obama to define marriage, he said, "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian ... it’s also a sacred union." When asked whether or not he’d support a constitutional amendment, he answered that he wouldn’t, for the same reasons that John McCain said he opposes a constitutional amendment defining marriage. So, how is a vote for McCain that much different from Obama?
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I'm voting Democrat because, I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

>>No, the government would not do a better job spending your money than you would. I agree that government MUST be limited. However, the issue is not as simple as "Get the government out of my wallet." The issue is to determine where government must be limited, and where it is needed. See my response to Byron above.
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I'm voting Democrat, because freedom of speech is fine as long
as nobody is offended by it.


>>Well, Sean Hannity might not like it that somebody wants to hold him accountable for his lies and slander that goes unchecked over the public airwaves. Can you blame him? He's making an awful lot of money at it!
____

I'm voting Democrat, because when we pull out of Iraq, I trust that the bad guys will stop what they're doing, because they know think we are good people.

>>Well, that would be troubling if anybody actually believed that. The reality is that the "bad guys" are in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We don't have the troops to go after them because of our being bogged down in Iraq.
____

I'm voting Democrat, because I believe that people who can't tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps
will melt away in ten years if I don't start driving a Prius.


>>There is skepticism among some evangelicals about Climate Change. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because we've been so trained to think that science and Christianity don't mix. But Sir John Houghton, an evangelical Christian, is the co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is one of the world's most renowned scientists on the matter. I've been convinced, as have the majority of evangelicals, that he is correct. He presented to the National Association of Evangelicals a speech entitled, "Climate Change: a Christian Challenge and Opportunity."
____

I'm voting Democrat, because I am not concerned about the slaughter of millions of babies, so long as we keep all death-row inmates alive.

>>Yes, the incoherence of this doesn't make a whole lot of sense, does it? Compassion for the murderers, no compassion for the unborn.

_____

I'm voting Democrat, because I believe business should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as they see fit.

>>That's kind of crass, isn't it? You really don't think that Obama's goal is for businesses to not make profit. He certainly is not going to let corporate CEOs get away with what they have in the past, but he is hardly anti-business. Business Week had a balanced article on this.
______

I'm voting Democrat, because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would NEVER get their agendas past the voters.

>>If you believe that the only way to interpret the constitution is through a strict constructionist template, then McCain is definitely your man.