Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh, Obama...

And to think I was starting to like the guy.

Take a look at the mailer his people sent out all over South Carolina (I have that saved; in case the link is pulled, let me know and I'll rehost it). I've seldom seen a more pandering, manipulative, pathetic gesture. Bad show, Barack. Very bad show. At least we believe Mike Huckabee when he says he's a loony fundie. You're just trawling for votes.

It's really, really disappointing to see the Democratic candidates playing the Republican party's faith-based voting game like this, for a number of reasons. The most practical reason, of course, is that they're not very good at it, and when they try, they tend to get beaten by the Republicans, who are very good at it. More than that, though, it demonstrates badly misplaced priorities and a complete lack of integrity.

Appealing to religion to get votes in a secular nation is just bad form. It's not illegal, of course, and perhaps in the case of openly religious candidates like Mike Huckabee it's not even inconsistent - although I'd still slit my wrists before I'd cast a vote for the man. It is, however, deeply at odds with the job these presidential candidates are supposed to be doing, e.g. enforcing the laws and safeguarding the Constitution. You cannot be "guided by faith," as Obama's flier declares him to be, and still do an adequate job of policing the faith-based influence groups who constantly seek to undermine the wall of separation.

I'm not suggesting that Christians can't be President, of course; that would be just as egregious an assault on the religious freedom of the, well, religious, as any of the faith-based programs the Bush administration has tried to enact have been on the rights of the nonreligious. I am suggesting that to admit that your faith will guide you in office should be a strong mark against you in a Presidential election, not a selling point. The President's first and only loyalty should be to the United States, and proclaiming a strong religious affiliation like that clearly demonstrates a loyalty that is by definition prioritized above everything, including nation and duty. This should be a concern to all voters, religious or not; even if you feel that you and your President share the deepest of faith, what happens when you disagree on what God wants? Do you think that someone who has proclaimed that he is going to be guided by faith, and not by the will of the people, is going to listen to your dissent? George W. Bush's sub-thirty-percent approval rating following his own faith-based platform is a pretty strong indication that they will not.

And on top of all that, of course, there is the matter that a field of Presidential candidates who all proclaim noisy faith utterly disenfranchises nonreligious voters. Coming from a candidate who was supposed to represent progressives, intellectuals, and the movement for change, this is really a bitter pill. But, you know, don't worry about us, Mr. Obama; we're used to this sort of disappointment by now.

1 comment:

Ben said...

It makes sense; religious black voters are a huge proportion of SC primary voters. You get in with them, you win.

I don't think it's so much a reflection on Obama the candidate (or the person) as much as it is on SC, which we really should have let secede back when it wanted to.