September 10, 2012
I’ve been writing this weekly piece – column? blog? commentary? what is it?? – for over 20 years. During that time, I’ve written through at least five presidential election cycles. I have watched the quadrennial combat like any interested and participative citizen, but have consciously avoided turning my writing attention to the partisan contests… that is, until now.
Like you, over the last two weeks, I missed most of the morning-til-night agendas of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The only “live” action I saw was the tightly choreographed “made for prime time” elements that were slotted into the evening broadcast window. But the chatter of the pundits made me curious enough to do some web-searching, and hear some of the daytime heroes who were given the dais to give the assembled delegates a taste of their parties’ real DNA.
The coup de grace was the out-take from last Wednesday’s working session at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – the Democratic Convention Chairman – was asked to take care of a problem that had come to light in the party’s official platform.
The teams who labor to formalize the “this is what we believe” statement – the document that would depict the latest evolution of policies and positions for each major party – are the architects whose plans shape each parties political thrust as they move to secure the power positions in the Capitol. The Republicans had done their work earlier, and had been subject to ridicule by their competitors for their conservative narrative, depicting a vision for America that reflected many past positions that they were out to protect.
The Democratic platform was as progressive as the Republican was conservative. In the document that came together for the Charlotte meeting, two concepts that had been included in their past had been dropped from the final draft: “God” was dismissed, and Jerusalem – as Israel’s capital – had been avoided (in an apparent attempt to assuage the enemies of Israel). What would those oversights matter? When their absence was noted, Villaraigosa was charged with bringing them back into the document through a simple amendment, which would need a vote of 2/3 to pass, routinely…
Unless you’ve been vacationing on Venus, the scene from the Arena was telling. On the screen, the language to reinstall “God” and “Jerusalem” to their party platform was perfunctory. He called for the vote of the delegates: in the cavernous hall, the “ayes” – the votes to reestablish God and Jerusalem in the document – were equaled by the “nays.” Second vote: the “nays,” emboldened, picked up in volume. Now in what the LA Times called a kerfuffle (“a commotion or fuss, caused by conflicting views”), the mayor/chairman called for one last vote: clearly, the affirmation for heaven and Israel was weakened among the agreeable as the antagonists outshouted them.
Villaraigosa read from his pre-scripted teleprompter and declared, “…in the opinion of the chair, two-thirds have voted in the affirmative, and the amendment is adopted…” The “boos” from the house were emotionally charged. Asked later about the obvious disconnect between the delegate response and his conclusion, he replied, “It was a lot ado about nothing… The president, the vice president, Mrs. Obama, all of them acknowledged the decisive way I handled that.”
Listen to the voters, when they say what we want them to say. If voters disagree with those in power, the powerful will find a way around them. Voters – and, apparently, Congress – are simply obstacles to placate and work around; if those in power know best, who knows where we’re headed?
This is a really, really important moment in history. You have a part to play in the future course of America. Use God’s truth to inform your values, and then use those values as a filter to assess policies and politicians who are calling for your support. Prepare to vote your values on November 6th, but until then, be an advocate for what you believe to be righteous before God, and right for America.