5.11.08

Open Letter to the Democratic Party

Dear Democrats,

I called myself a Democrat before I was old enough to vote. In 1976, I cheered on Jimmy Carter as he overtook Gerald Ford, even though I was seven years old and didn’t know why I cared. I remained faithful through the Reagan Era, lumbering forward with a sense of hopeless drudgery that only a Cubs fan could surpass. In college, I pissed away my first presidential vote on Michael Dukakis after his campaign let Bush campaign steamroll him with Willy Horton. I supported Bill Clinton through thick and thin, turning on him only when he shook his finger at me and lied about Monica. And, like so many other Americans, I ground my teeth to powder for eight years as W. turned our great nation into a joke (that wasn't even funny).

Such fidelity might not sound so special until you learn that I'm an Evangelical Christian. For decades, I've caught crap from my brothers and sisters in Christ for my political affiliation. I've wept and wailed and gnashed my teeth as they went unmoved by my declarations that the Bible contains thousands more verses about helping the poor than homosexuality or abortion. I told them that the believers in Acts had “everything in common” and reminded them what happened to Annanias and Saphira when they didn't pay their taxes. At best, most fellow members of Team Jesus ignored me. At worst, they tired to kick me off the team.

Things are different this time. A lot of Evangelicals crossed the line and voted for you. Most of them didn’t, but the ones who did were louder about it than usual. Evangelical democrats didn’t cower on their way to the polls this time. They supported you out in the open, calling Barack Obama a man of faith. It's a paradigm shift, or at least the start of one. Nice work. I just have a small favor to ask:

Please don't screw this up.

Don't take this for granted and, for the love of Mike, don't embarrass me. Many Evangelicals are convinced that you're going to arrange same sex marriages for children, require the abortion of all male fetuses, and make Wicca the national religion. I've told other Christians for years that hot button issues like abortion and same sex marriage are not the most pressing issues facing our country or the world. I’ve reminded them what Jesus said were the greatest commandments. Please don’t make me explain this all over again to you.

You govern a moderate to conservative nation. Don’t try our patience the way the far right has, waging divisive battles that, at best, yield Pyrrhic victories. Do the slow, mundane work that creates lasting change. Fix health care. Make it easier for people to get training that leads to gainful employment. Show us a sensible, sober capitalism that rewards ingenuity and hard work while protecting people from exploitation. Make public schools in urban areas so good that private schools become a waste of money. Treat the HIV epidemic and legion of problems in Africa like a global emergency. Go after human trafficking with a vengeance. And if you could send a few Black Hawk helicopter units over to Darfur and scare those Janjaweed dillweeds back down into the holes from whence they came, that would tickle me pink. Similar problems exist all over the world, and I know they’re complicated and we can’t solve them all. It would just be nice to see our military used differently.

In my home state of California, we just voted on a referendum about same sex marriage. Campaigns on both sides spent a combined 73 million dollars. All I can think about is how many crops that money could plant. Please lead us away from this kind of madness toward a new set of priorities. Show the country and the world that your ideas can work. Show them that you can be populist without being socialist. Show them that you can be progressive and without being elitist. Be reasonable and compromise when you can. Ask God for wisdom and guidance every day. Make a difference. Make me proud.

I'll be praying for you.

Steve Simpson

7 comments:

  1. p.s. - please kick our butts if you find us resting on our laurels and not making the individual sacrifices necessary to bring about these changes.

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  2. I concur. Wholeheartedly. The Democratic Party must be and enact the change they've preached for the past year. I am somewhat excited as to what the next 4 years will bring, but I'm enough of a cynical political historian that I know I shouldn't start counting those unhatched eggs yet.

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  3. I'm with you. I am so with you.

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  4. Very very well stated. Thank you.

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  5. Great letter Steve. Many longtime republican conservative evangelicals crossed over and voted for Obama. I think that we have given him the ball.. it is up to him to show us that he will be a centrist and bipartisan leader. If he is not and engages in left-wing partisan politics then I will be looking to support someone else in 4 years.. it is up to him to be the president of all of America.

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  6. Even as an independent, I appreciate this letter. Maybe that's because I had to leave the Republican party to become an independent, but nonetheless, I like it. And actually, given that my ballot is purple, I'd like to extend it to everyone elected: stop bickering and get the job done or you're out the next chance we get.

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