Politically Confused

red-and-blue-america.pngI am not a strong political partisan; I think I’ve made that abundantly clear in a previous post. Yet over the past week, my senses have been assaulted by those who are, people who believe that they alone possess capital “T” Truth and are, without a doubt, politically correct.

I’ve watched a constant stream of venomous TV ads (one Democrat suggested that his Republican opponent’s ineptness resulted in a little girl’s leukemia). I’ve listened to the sound of my phone ringing off the hook, followed by the inevitable voice message promising that if I elect conservative so-and-so, then the “good old days” will return in all their clear-cut, black and white predictability.

Not only have my senses been assaulted, but my intelligence as well. I’m really not sure who is politically correct; I find myself, rather, politically confused.

But this morning, I have come to several conclusions:

As to how, or if, I will vote tomorrow, I’ll make that call when I wake up in the morning.

  1. JRB

    Alabama politics always are and ever will be ugly exercises in Democracy. I’m a liberal progressive generally but not partisan. For your consideration and not in the spirit of proselytizing, I plan to vote thus:

    Gov: R. (he even gets Jim Wallis’s nod in God’s Politics)

    Lt. Gov: R. (because Big and Jr. don’t leave the cleanest houses)

    AG: D. (because he knows, and the incumbent doesn’t)

    Congress: D. (because a split gov’t is a moderate gov’t)

    S.Ct. Chief: D. (because a split court is a healthy court, among other reasons)

    Funny world, ain’t it?

  2. Laurie

    I liked all your links. My church’s reader board currently reads: “It will be a great world when the power of love overcomes the love of power.”

    This is the time of year when I’m particularly glad I don’t watch TV. (Not a moral or holier-than-thou thing, an attention span thing.) But unfortunately I do still answer the phone. (But hey! Robert Redford called me last week! ALthough I was heartbroken to realize it was a recording.)

  3. Mike the Eyeguy

    “Funny world, ain’t it?”

    As Karl Childers might say, “funny ha-ha or funny queer?”

    Thanks for the Harding liberal’s guide to voting in Alabama. 😉

    Given that you work and live near the seat of power, it probably has some traction and credibility. I had to laugh when I saw a Folsom was running yet again.


    I like your church’s sign.

    Sorry to hear about the Redford disappointment. Chin up. Maybe Becks or Zizou will be next.

  4. Laurie

    Yeah, I’m sure that Becks or Zizou will be the next to disappoint me. 🙂

    Although speaking of Beckham, my hopes are up!

  5. Mike the Eyeguy


    Now that you’re a world-renown soccer blogger, anything can happen!

  6. Mark elrod

    I saw an interesting interview last week about early voting where a political scientist was asked if early voting favored one party or the other. The answer is that it turns out the most hard-core partisans who had their minds made up many months ago.

    The pol scientist said: “Most of these people made up their minds about who they were going to vote for when they were 14.”

  7. Mike the Eyeguy

    I’m looking over my sample ballot and reading the editorial voting suggestions from the 3 major Alabama dailies. I’m not giving up yet.

    Mark, that story echoes these words from the Arends’ Boston Herald column:

    “These (partisans) are people for whom the “truth” is always found on one side of the aisle. The “facts” are always what they want to believe. The “other side” is always bad, and always wrong. They seem to think that politics is like baseball – you pick a team for life and then root for it, year after year . . . no matter how the team changes, or what they do.”

  8. Tarwater

    Until the Democrats change from being the party of Death, there seems to be only one choice in voting.

    In the years preceding the Civil War there was one political issue: Slavery. By analogy there is today one political issue that trumps and dwarfs all others: The ‘Right’ to terminate the life of the unborn. Many Americans back then thought slavery was a God given right; their folly is their shame. In the same way will history judge those who advocate abortion.

    When will we wake up to the tragedy before us every day?

  9. Mike the Eyeguy

    The Party of Death. Wow. Those are strong words.

    Of course, a Democrat might counter by calling the Republican Party the Party of Torture.

    How, pray tell, can we know which is worse?

    I wonder what the Pope would have to say about that.

  10. JRB

    Mike, this getting dangerously close to controversy. . . . maybe even edgy. . . call the Eyegal!

    Tarwater, as a Christian, pro-life, liberal, usually-Democrat, I respectfully disagree that only one political issue trumps the rest and respectfully disagree that abortion is the only “life” issue. Abortion is among the life issues of poverty, health care, housing, HIV/AIDS, foreign aid, capital punishment and, Heaven forbid we ever forget it, War. Besides, the Republicans may be the customary anti-abortion party, but they have done precious little about it.

    Here’s to a divided government! Cheers!

  11. Tarwater

    “How, pray tell, can we know which is worse?”


    Can one begin to compare the millions of innocent children murdered to a handful of tortures? The Democrat would be wrong to make such a putrid comparison.

    Can Bush be compared with Hitler? Hardly. Abortion is a Modern Holocaust. History will bear witness and judge us accordingly.

  12. Tarwater

    They said the same about Slavery JRB. They were wrong. Slavery trumped all the other issues of the day. Or do you think Slavery is the same as foreign aid and health care?

  13. JRB

    Slavery was foreign trade and certainly an economic issue, and it certainly implicated health care. I take your point, but not only have millions of babies been aborted, 30,000 children die in the developing world unnecessarily because of malnutrition, poverty and political instability. This nation, our nation, the USA, and its government could eliminate those deaths if we decided to care.

  14. Mike the Eyeguy


    Don’t worry, I’ll be rounding off the edginess soon with some more inane posts on sports, quotidian family life and sneakers.


    Ah yes, Godwin’s Law (definition here). I didn’t compare Bush to Hitler (and I wouldn’t). By bringing up torture, I wished to point out that “protecting innocent life” is not a monolithic issue which is the sole province of a particular political party. Republicans are hardly of one mind on the issue of abortion and neither are Democrats.

    I’m glad the Catholic Church has stood as a faithful witness defending the rights of the unborn. As to their stand on water boarding and other forms of torture, I can only presume that they might tolerate it under certain circumstances judging from your toleration of a “handful.”

    But I will admit that I have not sought the guidance of the Catechism on this one. I do wish that the Catholic passion for protecting “all life” had blossomed a few centuries earlier than it did.

  15. Bill Gnade

    Dear Mike,

    Perhaps you are right about the Army Times op-ed being stunning. You do, however, know that, at least according to CNN, the Army Times has nothing to do with the military? It is just a subsidiary of Gannett News Service, you know, USA Today.

    Perhaps Jesus chose to come to Palestine before democracy had broken out across the globe. That way he was never asked to cast a vote. But if Jesus was an American citizen, what would he do? Would he NOT vote? If not, then, perhaps, it follows that no disciple of Christ should vote either. But this seems untenable. Does anyone think Jesus would NOT vote? Hence, if we assume that he would, perhaps there really is a better choice.

    I do not think the language of the Party of Death is too strong at all. After all, since pro-abortion rights are a plank in the DNC platform (p. 38, 2004 DNC National Platform) but are not in the GOP, one could readily argue that the DNC defines itself by preserving the right of a woman, in response to a difficult situation, to kill something. War is not a party plank in either camp; defense and war are not synonymous. Being pro-death penalty and anti-abortion is not a contradiction, since they are not even in the same order; and the death penalty, believe it or not, is NOT a GOP talking point. But the death penalty for unwanted babies is very much a DNC reality. As for torture, well, that is not death, is it? It is something else altogether. Aborted babies are not really tortured: they are executed to preserve the myth of sexual equality.

    I doubt very much that the Catholic Church is soft on waterboarding. Heck, the Church has consistently opposed the invasion of Iraq.

    All this to say that, irrespective of my rhetoric, I am thoroughly confused.



  16. Mike the Eyeguy

    Bill, if you think that I am defending abortion as it is practiced in this country, then you are thoroughly confused! 🙂

    I am merely pointing to the tendency, by both sides, to ratchet up the rhetoric and demonize each other without truly engaging in dialogue. There are many of us here in the “mushy middle” who don’t do our business that way, and I find it all very wearisome.

    I will vote today, although in my particular Christian tribe (Church of Christ) there is at least a past history of “non-participation” (see David Lipscomb).

    As to the Army Times editorial, this Slate article provides some additional context.

    Peace right back atcha.

  17. Hal

    I find myself agreeing mostly with Tarwater and Gnade here with respect to the abortion issue. My conscience will not allow me to vote for a pro-death candidate irregardless of his/her other qualifications for office.

    That being said, JRB is right in his assessment that the Republicans have done precious little about it – with the exception of couple of reasonably decent court appointments. It’s very frustrating.

  18. Mike the Eyeguy

    Still, Hal, how do you distill all the information and issues surrounding the “life” question into a single decision about whether or not someone is “pro-death” versus “pro-life?”

    Would someone who voted “yes” on allowing embryonic stem cell research and “no” on banning U.S. aid for family planning funding abroad, but who voted “yes” on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions and “yes” on banning partial-birth abortions be “pro-death” or “pro-life?”

    Let’s say this person only got a 30% NARAL rating (which is, according to them, “pro-life”). Furthermore, let’s say he was a generally conservative and wildly popular Democrat (but, alas, a member of the “Party of Death”) who had represented his district in a stellar fashion for several terms.

    Would you classify him as “pro-life” or “pro-death?” Furthermore, would you vote for him?

    Well, as for me, I did.

    The problem with a fundamentalist mindset on this and many other issues, is that the world is composed of a million shades of gray, not simple black and white.

  19. Bill Gnade


    My congressman, Charles Bass, is a friend of mine. I spoke with him yesterday; I held a sign for him at the local voting precinct. I voted for him (he lost). He is a Republican. And he is pro-choice.

    There is nothing in my last post, Mike, that would suggest that I thought you were defending abortion. If I was saying anything, I was saying that it is fallacious to conflate abortion, the death penalty and war. None of these things are in the same order: the only thing they have in common is that someone dies. But someone dies in adventure sports, cancer wards, and self-immolation. Obviously, these are not related to abortion, or war, or capital punishment.

    I voted for Charles Bass yesterday because his party is not committed to abortion — as a party. Moreover, I am more likely to be suspicious of a “pro-life Democrat” than a pro-choice Republican: Democrats are indeed — as a party — committed to preserving abortion rights. How a pro-life Democrat can support that is beyond me. I find it far more likely for a Democrat to take a pro-life stand — “We are all pro-life” — to win a few pro-life votes, than I do a pro-choice Republican arguing for Roe v. Wade’s glories in order to win a few pro-choice votes. I may be naive here; indeed, I am. But it is the parties’ divergent platforms that inform my naivete.

    It is absurd to suggest that the Republicans have done “precious little” to combat abortion. Today, the US Supreme Court begins a new session; it shall hear testimony about partial birth abortion. Did not the Republicans attempt to put two more conservative justices on that court? Did they not succeed in that attempt? No doubt both Alito and Roberts may very well turn out to be great jurists who do indeed see that all abortion procedures are constitutional. I’ll grant that. But it is pure emptiness to argue that Republicans have been feckless on this issue. One wonders if even the Democrats would argue that Republicans have done “precious little.”

    I am so grateful that the Democrats have added to their platform that they want to make abortions rare (abortion — safe, legal and rare). It would be fascinating to know how much money the Democratic Party has spent in making abortion a rare medical act in this country.

    Have Republicans done enough? No. Have Democrats? No. Are there many pro-life Catholics who vote Democratic every election year? Oh, yeah. But if there is a party — an actual political party — that is showing ANY resolve to REDUCE the number of abortions in American, to make them rare indeed, it is the Republican Party. Hastert and Frist and Rove and Cheney and Bush may all give a wink-wink to each other when they speak of being “pro-life”, but their (possible) cynicism does not hide the fact that countless folks beneath them — folks like me — oppose abortion (as a political tool and ideology), the death penalty, torture and, indeed, indiscriminate war. I am not suggesting that the War on Terror or the Iraq invasion were indiscriminate. I am merely saying that there is a bunch of us pro-lifers in the Republican Party who are not one whit “pro-death”, no matter how the terms are conflated or the arguments skewed.

    Peace, at least for a moment, somewhere.



  20. Mike the Eyeguy

    Bill, you argue with passion and reason as usual.

    Again, my point is (and I think you have lent it some support with your example of Charles Bass) is that broad brush strokes and labels don’t do justice to the variety of thought and nuance present in the typical individual.

    I’m sorry that you’re suspicious of “pro-life” Democrats. Perhaps you are somewhat handicapped by not having spent anytime in the South. Down here, it is rather common for a Democrat to diverge from his or her party on the issue of abortion. More often than not, it is not only a matter of political life or death, but also one’s heartfelt conviction.

  21. Hal

    Bill makes some excellent points regarding the platforms of each party. Two supreme court appointments were good progress I think, but there is still an enormous amount of federal dollars this country spends to fund abortions here and abroad that I would like to see eliminated. That’s not choice, that’s encouragement.

    I wish I had time to explain my rationale, but I’ve got no assistance today and I have to go see patients. Someday we’ll chat. Are you going to Denver next month?

  22. Mike the Eyeguy

    No, Denver in December is not my idea of a vacation. 🙂

    I may be going up to Duke next spring for a conference. You should join me.

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