We are in KC for a while with family from both sides. These gatherings almost always include at least one conversation about politics. We tried to avoid it this time, but the temptation was just too great with the elections just around the corner. I have also somehow been pulled into a discussion with an old college friend and others in the comment thread of a blog. And, with a childhood friend, I've exchanged a few emails about politics. In one of those emails I sort of spelled out some of my broader political stances. This is in no way comprehensive, but I think it represents what I would want to say in many of these political conversations (arguments?). Here's what I wrote to my friend:
For the most part I tend to lean toward progressive politics. On the national level that means I sway Democratic more than Republican. I was, however, excited to see McCain get the Republican nomination. I kind of liked his going against what I see as disastrous movements in the Republican party. But then he upset me when he started pandering to the core base of the Republican party. I tend to believe the overly conservative base in the GOP is a vocal and powerful force, but numerically not as big as it seems. Anyway, whatever chance McCain had to pull my vote was lost when he started sounding more like his party wanted him to sound and less like the McCain I had learned about. Needless to say, I am very impressed by Obama. As I said, I tend to lean progressive anyway, so his policies and platform are for the most part what I like. But, he as a person has impressed me greatly. I think after eight years of Bush, I'm ready for a president who is articulate, thoughtful, and seemingly under control. I'm sure he would do things that I don't like if he became president, but on the whole neither he nor his politics rub me the wrong way.
I'm not a wholesale Democrat, however. Oregon uses mail ballots for all of their elections, so I was able to vote this past weekend when I got the ballot in the mail on Friday. I voted for a good many Democrats for national positions (pres., senators, etc.), I voted for Democrats, Republicans, and even some Green Party candidates in statewide and local elections. I skipped a few votes because I did not feel like I was informed enough to make a decision. For mayor of Eugene the two candidates are not affiliated with a party, but their politics easily show their dispositions. I voted for the guy with more Republican traits. All of this to say that I try to take into consideration as much as I can before making decisions. But again, I begin the exploration with progressive tendencies.
How I got to a more progressive place is a long story and I'm not sure exactly how I got here. I think it has something to do with meeting more and various people, reading different ideas, and reflecting more on how Christian values can influence politics (to what ever degree they can or should). Oddly enough much of my progressive ideas come from reflecting on my upbringing, not so much reacting against it but noticing how the things that reflected Christ-likeness to me were things that on larger scales people say are progressive ideas. For example, I recall at Hickory Grove that the people of the church would pool their resources together to help out a family in need, or how they would accept with open arms a stinky old man without scolding him for not "getting his life together." These little things made an impression on me as a kid, and now that I am able to put these impressions together with other things that I've seen, heard, experienced, read, etc., I come out with the belief that a true and good life in the way of Christ transcends politics, but if it is to influence politics at all it will do so in ways that reflect the merciful, loving, giving spirit of Christ himself.