I am registered non-partisan. I have been registered that way since 2006, with a short exception of about one month in 2016 so I could vote in one of the primaries for the presidential election here in Pennsylvania. Right after voting, I re-registered non-partisan.
There’s a long story behind my becoming non-partisan. The short version is that I’ve been within the belly of the beast, have been a part of it, and I didn’t like it. I got tired of helping get people elected that in turn voted for really bad leadership. I had enough. It was the last straw.
Since that time, I have helped different people get elected — both Democrats and Republicans. I’m pretty moderate politically overall, with some exceptions that lean me more conservative on some things and more liberal on other things. And I really try to make sure that I’m not advancing either political party. Sometimes I match up with one or the other party. Other times the alignment only goes so far as to be critical of the other party. That seems to be the case lately. But critical of a political party does not mean endorsement or support for the other party.
Living in between the two parties means that I have friends and acquaintances who are dedicated to one or the other parties in the US.
And it means that my Facebook feed is really interesting, entertaining, and enlightening. I get to look into the window of conservative America and liberal America. I value these relationships, even when I don’t always agree with the politics that are espoused. They help me understand or give me a glimpse of what a good portion of the country is thinking and how certain actions and statements make sense to a group of people.
In the last week I saw friends post stories and video criticizing the Woman’s March. The criticism was about the attitude of the women who attended. They showcased some of the signs and statements that attendees held and stated. The stories and videos all claim that the problem is that the women at these marches were acting out the very things they claimed about Donald Trump. They became the very things they dislike about Trump. And besides, they should be grateful because, as they claim, it is the lowest level of women’s unemployment ever (or something of that nature).
In the last week, I also saw friends post stories and videos criticizing Trump. The criticism is far and wide over several issues, statements, and actions that the president did just in the last week. The criticism centers on Trump’s attitude towards anyone who disagrees with him, his statements about people who are not white or from predominately white countries, etc.
That’s just the summary of the last week. Both sides present interesting information. Some of it are worthwhile points that I try to take into consideration. I don’t comment on all of these — that would be impossible to do. And both are a bit over the top and excessive. Before the tax bill was signed into law, I was asked by a friend what I thought about it given what supporters and opponents said about it. My response was that while I haven’t read much about it, I’m fairly certain that it won’t be as good as supporters are selling it to be and it won’t be as bad as opponents are making it out to be. That’s usually the case for most pieces of legislation that becomes law.
What is most frustrating about this is that neither side listens to the other. They are too wrapped up in their own emotional response to listen. Too concerned with being right and making being right into an idol to be worshiped. I have been guilty of that plenty of times, so I know what that’s like. Often, what I see is this concern for being right impacts how the arguments are laid out.
I have watched whole groups of people switch their arguments to support the latest arguments.
Here’s two examples. During the Obama presidency, Democrats were all in favor of the federal government dictating the laws of the land and states were told to comply regardless of their opinion. They just needed to comply because the federal government made their decision. Now, under the Trump presidency, Democrats are making arguments for states rights and sounding a lot like constitutional conservatives in their fight for states rights.
During the Trump presidency, Republicans are claiming that economic success and growth in the country is the most important thing and that what the president says and does doesn’t matter because we are thriving economically. Never mind about the president having an affair and paying off a porn star to be quiet about it. It’s the economy, stupid. Yet, not that long ago, these same Republicans flipped out over President Clinton and his lying about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky and having a campaign slogan that said “it’s the economy, Stupid!”
What these examples, and so many more tell me is that both Democrats and Republicans are really just Machiavellian. They believe that the ends justify the means. Any argument can be employed as long as it advances the party and the ideology.
Yet, why? For what purpose? Is it some kind of wholesome ideal that these two parties are fighting for? Hardly. They don’t act like it anyway. Politics is about power — the acquisition of and keeping of power. And when power is being sought, and when it is valued more than anything else, then everything else takes a back seat. And the real question is this — why do so many people defend these parties? Why do so many contribute to them as if the parties care about these individuals? Why do so many people wrap their very identity around these parties?
Why am I not a Democrat or Republican? Because I’m tired of the hypocrisy. I’m tired of watching people and their parties completely flip their arguments back and forth based on who and what party is in power. I’m tired of the empty and tired rhetoric that these two parties use. I’m tired of the platitudes. I’m tired of the division and us vs. them attitudes that these parties proclaim. I’m tired of people drinking the cool-aid to defend the indefensible. I’m tired of people not listening to understand those with different views and ideas. I’m tired of people claiming to be Christian, yet acting completely different from Christian values — where is the forgiveness, grace, and peace making that Christ calls on us to be and offer? I’m tired of it all. I refuse to be angry about all of this. I refuse to allow the parties and those who proclaim their gospel message to control how I feel each day.
Instead of being a Democrat or Republican, I am a Christian. I am a Christian who attempts to live out the calling of a Christian. I will fail. Yet, Christ lifts me up, forgives me and sends me out again. I will attempt to listen with grace. I will attempt to listen for understanding. I will attempt to find ways to work with those I disagree with on things we can work together on. I will look for the humanity of people. I will attempt to be forgiving. I will attempt to be an instrument of peace. I will fail. And I will try again.
Originally published at laceduplutheran.com on January 26, 2018.