Monday, February 4, 2008

Arnold & Maria, Mama & Daddy, and Debra & Me

It’s a long time until November and I am afraid that Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, and Ken Rudin (the Political Junkie on NPR) are going to explode from over-excitement long before then. I don’t get that worked up about elections, but they do energize me. After all, we get to go the polls and elect our leaders. It sounds simple but it’s a great blessing.

When it comes to voting, I remember what my father used to tell me: “If we don’t exercise the right to vote we’ll lose it one day.” So, if you don’t vote—shame on you!

Despite my father’s conviction about voting, politics weren’t discussed much in my growing up home. I wonder how politics affect those families where political allegiances are a big deal.

I go to thinking about that when, over the last few days, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed Sen. John McCain and his wife, Maria Shriver, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama. Now, it is no big surprise that the two people who compose California’s first family endorsed candidates from opposing parties. The governor is after all a Republican and his wife is a member of the Kennedy clan who is therefore genetically predisposed and environmentally conditioned to be a Democrat. Still, it must make for some interesting dinner conversations. I guess that they just have to accept the situation for what it is and press on. Love conquers all. (For proof, see James Carville and Mary Matlin.)

The situation with my parents was different. My mother, I suspect largely at the urging of my father, did vote. But I can still hear her asking my father for whom she should vote. I guess that she just didn’t keep up with the issues or the candidates. While I’m not saying that she should not have followed my father’s advice, I do know that the following candidates got their two votes: 1960—Richard Nixon, 1964—Barry Goldwater, 1968—George Wallace, and 1972—Richard Nixon.

Debra and I talk politics a little bit. I think—and you would expect me to say this—that we handle such things about as well as they can be handled. We talk respectfully about issues and about candidates. We think for ourselves. We pray about it. And then we each go vote our convictions. I suspect that we usually vote for the same candidates but there are times when we don’t. Tomorrow’s primary here in Georgia may be one of those times when we don’t vote for the same candidate. We may or may not find out; sometimes we don’t even ask each other for whom we voted.

This may be one situation (and there are others) in which being a Baptist minister is a good thing. I do not believe that I should publicly endorse any candidate. So, we do not believe that we should post stickers on our bumpers or signs in our yard that advocate for any candidate. That self-imposed restriction may spare us some disagreements.

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, the day on which over twenty states will hold primaries and on which a huge number of delegates will be awarded. If you live in one of those states and haven’t voted early, by all means get out and vote.

Maybe your family is like that of Arnold and Maria; maybe it’s like that of my mother and father; maybe it’s like ours. Maybe you prefer Democrats; maybe you prefer Republicans. Maybe you’re liberal; maybe you’re conservative. I have my convictions, too. But on Election Day, we’re all in this together. In a sense, we’re all one big family doing our best to make decisions that will be best for our family.


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