Quaker Testimonies and the Presidential Election
November 2, 2012 § 10 Comments
I don’t feel that I can make much of a Quaker case for voting for President Obama beyond the argument that his (barely) liberal political agenda squares in a general way with the Liberal Quaker view of the testimonies. But I do believe that a truly compelling argument can be made against voting for the Republican platform and the men who at times quite forcefully advocate it, Mitt Romney and, especially, Paul Ryan.
In fact, in the spirit and rhetorical form used by the Hebrew prophets, especially Micah (6:2), I say: “Hear, you mountains, the judgment-case of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a judgment-case with [you] and he will contend with [you]”. This judgment-case rests on two sets of contentions, one based on the Quaker testimonies, and another on the gospel of Jesus. This post is dedicated to the testimonial case.
- Integrity: All politicians twist the truth to poison the minds of the electorate, but we have never seen such brazen, consistent, egregious, and frequent, outright lies as we have seen from the Republicans in this campaign. Nor has a candidate twisted away from his former stands on so many issues so many times as had Mitt Romney.
- Equality: The Republican platform is an assault, not just on the poor, but on the lower middle class and virtually all who work for a living rather than “earn” an income from investments. This is clear from their approach to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and the privatization of many other government functions and programs. At the other end of the socio-economic ladder, the national Republican party has joined the very rich behind their unassailable ramparts, insisting, not only on not raising their taxes, but on strengthening the social, legal, and economic structures that skew the economic system in their favor and have been widening the gap between the rich and the rest of us for decades.
- Justice: Who would have thought that after 60 years of blood and tears we would be fighting this hard to get poor people and minorities to the polls over new barriers erected by white men?
- Women’s rights: We are used to suffering abortion as a flashpoint for political contest, but basic healthcare and even contraception? Yes, some social forces have sided against women on these issues all along, too. But now a serious defense of rape as legitimate? In America? The Republican party has been using racial fear to win elections since Nixon and his “Southern Strategy”, but now misogyny has also become part of the Republican cast for the white man’s vote.
- Earthcare: The consistent questioning of climate science, and in fact, of science across the board, especially when it concerns the environment and public health, is another face of the violation of the testimony of integrity and an alignment with corporate profit against the integrity of creation.
- Community: The Republican party has taken the individualism that is both the strength and the great weakness of American society to radical extremes, threatening to thrust those who need social support out on their own and to shred what remains, not just of the social safety net but the integrity of community itself, with its rhetoric and its assault on “social programs”.
- Peace: At last even the military establishment itself wants to reduce our military budget. But not Mitt Romney.
Have I missed any? Simplicity? One thinks of the complicated financial instruments that brought us the Great Recession and the deregulation that made it possible, and which is a major factor in the financialization of our economy since Ronald Reagan, at the expense of simple productive economic activity. But you can’t just blame the Republicans for that; both parties love Wall Street, no matter how the bankers spin it. And the Republicans do arguably favor simplicity in government; it’s actually an important part of their pro-deregulation and tax reform rhetoric.
So I will leave my case on our testimonies at this. Next post will look at Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan through the testimony of the gospel of Jesus.