Very glad that the barrier has been broken. Looking for more barriers being broken in the future.
Sitting in Birmingham, just miles away from the church where four little girls were blown up just a few decades ago and the streets where Democratic National Committeeman Bull Connor let loose his dogs and firehoses, there is a feeling of…what… relief. Yes, relief, and a certain sense of gladness for the moment as it is.
But the feeling is mitigated by the politics of the man elected as well as the campaign he headed, and I don’t think that wariness and sadness merits an apology. If the man’s policies and promises sadden and give us pause, are we required to bury that now?
On message, yes. Unflappable, yes. But I disagree with most of his policy proposals at one level or another and believe the campaign was anything but noble. No campaign is without fault, and most are full of fault, and the Obama campaign was no different. In other words, it was not an admirable rise, in my opinion. The achievement is marred by dissembling about the candidate’s past, dishonesty and vitriol from surrogates, a viciousness which was never reigned in by the campaign, as well as near-cultishness and sycophancy for a very inexperienced candidate.
And I’m not going to apologize for that qualification. Because I know full well that those who would scold about ruining the moment by consideration of such little things like policy would not – would not – be joyously basking in the historic moment if Sarah Palin were now the vice-president elect. Or president, it goes without saying. Not for a second. In fact, they would be infuriated.
So here we are. It will be interesting to see what the Republican party does now and who will be blamed. In one sense, it is obvious – Republicans in Congress abandoned all pretense of fiscal responsibility and conservatism of late. George Bush. A loss of any sense of who their constituents are, and a paralysis in terms of message for fear of alienating either the base or the Mythic Independents Who Would Save Us All. George Bush.
The moment for the GOP is critical – it’s almost a tipping point moment, it seems. Has the moment for smaller government passed? Are the majority of us now ready, willing and able to dole out more taxes, thinking either that we have no choice if we want our Social Security and Medicare or that there is really no other way if we want to have more accessible and affordable health care or an economy less susceptible to volatility and catastrophic loss?
Is there any reason for the GOP to even exist?
Well, almost half of the electorate obviously thinks so. But what is it that we are voting for – or against?
I am quite disappointed, from a policy perspective, that Obama won the election. I’m fearful of what his presidency will mean on many issues, particularly that of life as well as religious freedom and transparency in government. It’s bad enough, but the way the Obama campaign was run gives no hope that transparency and accountability will be a priority. Remember – the power of a presidential administration is really not so much in the legislation it supports and signs, but in the way it can shape the machinery of government, from the HHS to the judiciary. A lot can happen there.
But I am also a bit energized. Partly because my mind is finally freed up from election obsession and I can concentrate on work again. But partly because this election, even as it has muddied some things, seems to have clarified others – or at least begun the process. I think, very importantly, it has revealed the necessity and importance of Catholics re-thinking how they think about politics and policy, regarding life issues and beyond, one that is less tied to party affiliation than before, that is willing to stand and challenge the assumptions brought to the table by all parties.
Oh, I know – some have tightened those party ties. And we certainly do look forward to all of those strong pro-life voices advocating for the unborn and pregnant women in the Obama adminstration. We do. Our ears will be wide open, listening for it. Keep us posted.
More on that Catholic angle in a bit.
Update: Aimee Milburn on a “Deadly Irony.”