Within American Christian circles, it is hard to ignore a growing segment. The culture of the Christian Right has encouraged a counter-culture, one that reacts against conservative evangelicalism and looks in new ways at left leaning ideas following Jim Wallis and the soujourners or many of the emerging churches.
I cannot say that I’m completely immune to these sentiments. My first vote was for George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican Primary. I sat up late in November 2000 and 2004 with my own notebook trying to guess which states would vote Republican and which Democratic. After 2004, however, my love affair with politics turned sour. I realized I talked politics more with friends than deeper issues, and that my passionate politics often turned people off of my less passionate religion.
I found myself saying “good point” and “interesting perspective” with my Democratic friends. I love to be contrarian, and in conservative evangelical circles, little can be more contrarian than defending Democrats against broad attacks. My Edmund Burke, Adam Smith and Russell Kirk grew dusty on the shelves, as I wondered if free market capitalism was indeed neglectful of the poor. I listened as Derek Webb made me realize that even when war is necessary and ordained by God, it is still evil and disgusting in its violence. I thought, and perhaps still do, that universal healthcare would not be so bad as most of the developed world has done it without corpses in the street. I do not believe, as I once did, that capitalism is inherently moral (it is amoral at best, and less immoral than socialism at worst) and am very disturbed and disgusted at the more hawkish neo-conservatives like Anne Coulter, Sean Hannity and some others that seem to celebrate war rather than mourn it, even if necessary. As a John Stewart and Stephen Corbert fan, I’ve often felt very uncool while watching the insults pile up against conservatives on their shows. During the primaries, I even started watching the Democratic side more closely, rooting for Obama over Hillary.
Though I have often been a doubting Thomas on economic and occasionally foreign policy conservatism, I could never get over abortion. I have had many a person try to convince me that weighing abortion against the war or deaths of the poor justifies voting Democrat.
As I studied Obama’s positions over that time, I came back to core beliefs. Foremost, I looked at his views on abortion. I then realized something: I’m just not cool enough to vote Obama. Though it would make many conversations with some easier, and be another contrary position to be different on with conservative evangelicals I like to fight with, the reasons would be selfish and opportunist. Honestly, I like watching Obama speak and think he would be a decent, moral man in many ways in office (more so than Gore or Kerry would have been). There, I said it: I like Obama as a person and in some ways even politically. However, I cannot vote for someone who believes one human can kill another for convenience sake. And if that makes me a “one-issue voter,” so be it.
One of my personal heroes is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran minister who participated in efforts to help Jews escape death and overthrow the Nazi government in Nazi Germany. I wonder if there were issues where Bonhoeffer agreed with National Socialism. There must have been a few, since that government helped Germany modernize and restore their economy. Only today is Nazism universally hated, then fascism was the cool thing with poets (Ezra Pound), celebrities (Charles Lindberg), and intellectuals (H.G. Wells). Still, murder was a more important issue. While the government has been granted the sword to protect the innocent, when it uses that sword to kill the innocent, it calls for resistance. In America, such change can happen from within the system, whereas Germany stopped democracy early on. Some may not appreciate the comparison of National Socialism to the Democratic Party, but I can’t help but see both political parties as committed to the destruction of an inconvenient group of innocent people in their policy positions. Such a position cannot be overlooked for the good that party does in other areas.
For all the frustration I have had with the Republican Party over the past 3 years and the many points where I find it disappointing, this November I am voting Republican. I will be voting for a candidate I believe is most likely to move towards nominating judges that will return the abortion issue back to the states and their democratic institutions. I will be voting for John McCain in November, no matter how uncool it is. I encourage others to be “one-issue voters” with me.