Sunday, January 27, 2008

Presidential Election thoughts

Back in sixth grade my teacher had us do a report on a presidential candidate. The one that I remember getting was Bill Clinton. For that report I went to one of their offices based out of a Clayton building. I cam away from that office with information on him, Hillary and their daughter Chelsea (who, coincidentally had a birthday only a day or two before my own). Because of this paper I became more interested in the elections, watching at least one of the debates on the TV with my mom and dad and talking about the candidates and asking questions when I didn't know what they were talking about. Because of that project, I found myself quite comfortable voting in my first presidential election in 2000.

Despite that I never got involved with the primaries. When I signed up to be a voted I decided I would be among that broad "independent" group mainly because I didn't know where I fit within the party designations. I guess I was and I seem to be still largely Democratic because I never voted for a Republican up until I moved to Cape Girardeau where they were almost always the only viable option.

In 2004 I watched the Democratic National Convention and happened to flip on at the time that Barack Obama spoke his iconic keynote address "The Audacity of Hope." Something about him made me stop and listen. I had never heard anything like that in living memory. I had heard speeches from John F. Kennedy and Senator Obama's speech evoked the feelings that some have said of President Kennedy. I was awed by his speech and said, "I would seriously consider voting for him if he went for president." I guess the talking heads were saying the same thing.

A few years later I had been asked to be a backup delegate for The United Church of Christ's General Synod. That is my denomination's major meeting where we talk about projects that the UCC is doing in addition to give the national center a direction. This is not the best explanation of what went on there but that's not important to this long story on politics. The 2007 General Synod was a huge event as it also celebrated our 50th year as the United church of Christ. About that same time John Thomas, the UCC president asked Senator Obama to speak at our keynote address about his feelings on how faith informs his politics. When I heard about that I had prayed that I would be able to go as a delegate. Sure enough, less than a month to go before Synod I get the call to be a delegate. His speech spoke to my feelings about the divisiveness within the Unites States government and "reaching across the aisles" to work with those with different viewpoints on things in a common narrative. That is something that I love about the UCC and something that seemed to strike a cord in me that I had never heard form a presidential candidate. Ever.

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