Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Election Chronicles: Why You Should Vote for Barack Obama

by Ben Howard

Yesterday we took a look at why a thoughtful Christian could and should vote for Mitt Romney. If you missed it you can read it here. Today we'll take a look at why that same Christian could and should vote for Barack Obama.

I want to remind you that this entire series is predicated on having a more constructive conversation around politics based around what each party, and each voter, is for instead of what they are opposed to.

With all that said, why should you vote for Barack Obama?

First, you should vote for Barack Obama because he supports government assistance for the poor and those without a safety net. 

This position has expressed itself many times, predominantly in the expansion of the healthcare. An Obama administration has and will continue to keep an eye on how it can help the impoverished in our country and how they can help them break free from the cycle of poverty that grips so many.

That isn't to say that the Obama administration, or any administration for that matter, will be able to end poverty, but it is something that Barack Obama has been adamant about. The poor in this country have been underrepresented for too long, and I believe that Barack Obama will do what he can to support them and try to help them out of poverty.

Second, you should vote for Barack Obama because he supports gay marriage. Now, before you get your pitchforks out, let me explain why I say that.

The debate over gay marriage has always been a contentious one mainly because the two sides are not debating on the same grounds. Those in favor of gay marriage argue on the grounds of civil rights while those who oppose gay marriage argue from religious beliefs about sin and homosexuality. I think we can all understand that we aren't having the same conversation.

With that in mind, and remembering that I cringe every time I hear "rights" language invoked, I think we should grant gay and lesbian couples the legal rights contingent in marriage. However, the settlement of the civil rights side of this argument does not answer the religious aspect of the question.

I think that removing the civil rights argument by allowing the legal marriage of gay and lesbian couples, will allow churches to have an honest discussion about whether or not they will support and perform same-sex marriages. If a church supports them, then they will perform them, and if they don't, then they won't. Moreover, I think this could force churches to investigate what they mean by the term marriage in a religious context and how that differs from a legal contract between two consenting parties.

Finally, you should vote for Barack Obama because he supports the environment.

Whether or not you agree with the science that supports global warming, the world and everything in it is part of God's good creation. As a result, we should do our best to care for it and use its resources carefully, deliberately and responsibly. I don't think that using oil and gasoline is bad, but it is in the amounts that we use them. We are wasteful and rip-roaring drunk on fossil fuels. It would probably do us some good to reconsider the way we live our lives in relationship with the world that surrounds us.

With all of this said, I want to leave you with the same reality check that I left yesterday for supporters of Mitt Romney. Even though the government is supporting and aiding the poor financially, they still need you, and they still need me. A check is not the only thing people need to escape the grasp of poverty and the church needs to be deeply, deeply involved in trying to alleviate these ills (as many of them already are). 

Also, and I say this with all due respect, just because you support the poor, and gay rights, and the environment, it does not make you morally superior over those who vote differently or over those who hold different priorities. The arrogance of one party fuels the hatred of the other in a never-ending spiral of loathing and frustration. It divides us and forces us to view each other as caricatures and issue arguments. Remember, the other side is made up of people just like you and there may just be something to what they are saying.

I look forward to hearing your comments and tomorrow we'll address why you should vote for a third party candidate.


You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenHoward87 or email him at benjamin.howard87 [at] gmail.com.

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