Yes, I did. Both Sara and I voted for Barak Obama. I know that won’t sit easy with many of my evangelical friends. I’ve received scores of emails the last few days warning me that this election was pivotal for America and that God wanted McCain to win. One even sent me a dream he had of Obama plotting with Satan to destroy the United States.
I hate fear and all that it destroys in the human heart. People still don’t see how horribly binding it is and how it distorts us into really creepy people. Emails from Christian friends driven by fear and appealing to fear in hopes of conforming the culture to their expectations, sickened me. I know they are just misguided. I know God loves them deeply, and that they are responding the only way they know how. But it is time for God’s children to move beyond fear. This whole world is in HIS hands and we are his children living in it. We need not fear anything, because God’s kingdom is the unshakable one. His purpose will endure and we dare not look to the governments of men as our hope.
Even though I disagree with many of Obama’s social policies, the Republicans needed their comeuppance. I am a life-long Republican, and have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. But eight years of Republican arrogance and corruption in Washington has devastated this nation and destroyed our reputation abroad. How could I reward that with my vote? Are the Democrats any less arrogant or corrupt? Of course not!
But Obama sings a different tune. He speaks of hope and sacrifice, of bringing people together instead of manipulating our political differences to chop this country up into little pieces. To be honest, I’m ready for some sacrifice. My generation has saddled future generations with a horrible debt and an irresponsible, short-sighted, selfish approach to the problems of our world. It is time for a different course. Yes, I know when President Bush in his first campaign talked about being a “uniter not a divider”, he completely ignored his own promise. I can only Obama won’t do the same. I hope he’s serious about being a President for all of the people, even those who didn’t vote for him. I hope he brings diverse factions together and helps them learn to work together, rather than running headlong into a Democratic agenda. Time will tell.
This was a hard vote for me. McCain was my favorite Republican candidate from the beginning. I was surprised he won the nomination, but then even more shocked that he once nominated he became a mouthpiece for the worst elements in the Republican party. He quickly abandoned his life-long principles to appeal to the base of a party sadly out of touch with the demands of our time. I was disappointed by the lack of experience and gravitas in his vice presidential choice. I was disappointed in his negative ads that depended on rumor and innuendo. McCain has served this country well in days gone by. He didn’t do it so well in this campaign, except for his concession speech last night. That’s a McCain I could have voted for, even though I was disturbed by the mocking anger of those in his audience. He had to keep rebuking his own supporters who demonstrated such contempt for Obama. I hope that tells him something about the campaign he ran.
I know this won’t make sense to those who only focus on gay rights and abortion in voting for president. But I look at other issues that are being ignored to the detriment of our country. We need to build credibility abroad and make significant reforms at home. Obama offers us a fresh course and seems to display the intelligence, passion and fair-minded resolve to help us accomplish that. I do regret that he will serve with such overwhelming Democratic majorities in both houses. That doesn’t bode well for serving the interests of all of the people. But I’m rooting for him to get this right and demonstrate a generosity of spirit to those who don’t see the world the way he does.
And when I watched the faces of my African-American brothers and sisters last night overwhelmed at the election of one of their own to the highest office in the land, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. The greatest stain on our nation’s history is the white arrogance that first owned slaves for hundreds of years, then when freed kept them repressed economicaly, socially and politically for over a century and a half.
Sara and I just spent a week in Virginia visiting Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello and the historic colony of Williamsburg. To think that the man who penned our Declaration of Independence citing that “all men are created equal,” and then returned to his plantation in ownership of African men and women only shows the extent to which human blindness can reach.
What a moment in history! An African-American family will occupy the White House. So many said it couldn’t be done. And while it alone won’t make up for 400 years of abuse, it does open a very wide door of hope for those who have been most marginalized in our culture. How could we deny them this joy, this fulfillment that all men truly are created equal. I will pray that this reality further heals the despicable divide in our culture and allow us all to celebrate what we hold in common.
The stakes are high. The opportunity is great. I do pray that Obama will be blessed with wisdom and insight and that he will live up to his promise to not represent the narrow interest of party, but do work for a common good that offers equal justice for all.
On January 20, Barak Obama will take the oath of office, looking down the Mall past the Washington Monument to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech.” His election doesn’t fulfill all that King hoped for on that day, but it is a giant leap forward to fulfill a promise too long denied to people of color.
Some day I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren that I voted for the first African-American president of these United States, not because he was black but because he held the best promise to reverse the course of our failed politics and open a new chapter on American public life.
I pray he lives up to that promise. If he doesn’t, it really can’t be any worse than the last eight years.