Folks who know me know that I’m a fairly conservative guy. I tend toward the right on many issues. I would like to see limits on abortion rights. I oppose gay marriage (though not gay unions), and I support a strong military. However, I also oppose corporate welfare. I’d like to see a much more open immigration policy with amnesty and a fast track to citizenship for productive illegal immigrants already here. I don’t think our government can sustain huge spending increases without raising taxes. I think the death penalty is morally repugnant and indefensible. In short, I feel just about equally alienated by Democrats and Republicans.
The Democratic Party has tended to embrace progressive agendas at odds with traditional values. They support public policies that tend to separate sex from procreation. They contribute to the breakdown of traditional families despite ample evidence that society benefits most from stable, two-parent families. They have openly and aggressively flouted traditional Judeo-Christian values in favor of unfettered individualism.
Republicans, meanwhile, have paid lipservice to traditional values and politically exploited the Christian right while doing virtually nothing to advance causes dear to the hearts of Christians. They have cosseted the rich and powerful, increased the economic burdens of the poor, and defended the greed of corporate officers while castigating welfare mothers and impoverished immigrants for trying to make ends meet. In addition, over the last eight years, they have involved the United States in an unnecessary war and used national security as a pretext for limiting our constitutional freedoms. They have insisted that mere accusation is sufficient warrant for holding foreign nationals in prison for years without due process, that international conventions regarding humane treatment of prisoners of war do not apply to “enemy combatants,” and that interrogation procedures recognized the world over as torture are not “really” torture after all. They have made us offensive to our allies.
President Bush has done what I had not thought possible: he has made Bill Clinton seem like a decent fellow.
What’s a conservative Christian to do? Keep the self-righteous hypocrites in power? Or vote in the openly wicked? Of these two evils, it’s increasingly hard to know which is the lesser.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the voters are in the enviable position of having, not one, but two—yes, two!—candidates promising change in Washington. Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain are both promising to put an end to politics as usual in Washington. The great news, then, is that no matter who you vote for, you’ll get an insurgent president, ready to tackle the inside-the-beltway mindset of career politicians and special-interest lobbyists. Oh, boy! I can hardly wait to see how this turns out.
For all you voters out there who have been fed up with the curtailment of civil liberties for Americans, the posturing and posing of an inept Congress and a disingenuous President, and the crass exploitation of enduring values for political gain, change is in the wind! Once those crafty careerists understand the way the new wind is blowing, they will have no choice but to surrender their self-seeking impulses and side with the new administration’s efforts to re-shape Washington into a place that actually governs with the good of the country at heart. We’ll finally get some relief from all the problems bedeviling us.
Since there’s essentially no difference now between Obama and McCain, I suggest we just refer to them henceforth as McCama. Yes, folks, strap on your safety belts because it’s going to be a wild ride with President McCama in office. At least till about 2010 when the dreadful inertia of the sameness and bureaucracy of Washington really digs in its heels and refuses to budge. But, hey, it’ll be fun while it lasts.
On Sunday, we went downtown to count the police and watch the Republicans gather. We were turned back at two of the parking lots on the west bank of the river where we usually park, but we were allowed to park on Water Street, just south of Harriet Island. We walked into the park where a few workers were putting up tents in preparation for a concert. Rage Against The Machine was going to be playing later.
We walked along the river to Raspberry Island, where we ascended the stairs to the Wabasha Street bridge and crossed into the city. Kellogg Boulevard was blocked off at Saint Peter. There were ten-foot fences and three police officers barring the way. We walked down Saint Peter, turned left at 5th Street and made our way to Rice Park.
MSNBC had setup a video stage in Rice Park where they were filming some kind of political commentary show. A few people were resting in the shade near the fountain because the day was so hot. It seemed that the people with press tags outnumbered the ordinary citizens out for a stroll. One interviewer with a camera operator was buttonholing people at random. On the west side of the park, all approaches to the Xcel Energy Center were blocked by fences. Police were everywhere. We saw mounted police in full riot gear, down to the face shields covering the eyes of their horses. Nelly was glad to see the horses—she likes horses—, but Belinda was alarmed to see so many police, as if the city of Saint Paul expected some kind of attack.
We sat on the edge of the fountain watching and waiting. Nothing much happened. A protester came by carrying a sign that read “McCain Votes Against Veterans.” I suppose he was a veteran himself. Another protester carried a sign that proclaimed “9/11 Was An Inside Job.”
It was hot. The fountain was cool.
The Landmark building was all fitted out with bunting and flags. We took some pictures and then headed for home. We got back to the bridge as the sun was going down. The river looked lazy in the golden light. There were Coast Guard boats on patrol and several squad cars went racing by on there way somewhere.
The whole experience was surreal: a celebration of freedom surrounded with systems designed to control crowds and exclude people. I don’t know if Denver was like this, too.