Campaign Issues: A Family Affair

Posted by Ann | September 19, 2008 – 11:25 am
[Lapsklaus / Flickr]

[Ann Raber is a BallotVox co-curator.]

If our politics is genetic, then how come it’s (often) so difficult to talk to our parents about campaign issues? If they don’t share our views, we revert to our 15-year-old selves, petulant and hysterical over the very notion that we share DNA with these irrational beings who seem intent on ruining the country.

Or maybe that’s just my family.

In this historic campaign, many brave sons and daughters are having deep political conversations with their parents, and debriefing the experience online.

Ron of Ron’s Ruminations is a self-proclaimed “single-issue voter.” He votes to save the environment. His father, a Southern minister who “basically feels that anything embraced by the GOP platform is next to gospel,” struggles to understand his son’s outlook. But Ron draws on the faith that he and his father have in common to support the protection of the earth above all other concerns:

In our conversation today, [Dad] said, “You’re only voting for Obama because you think he’s going to more closely follow what you believe to be the correct policy on the environment.”

Me: “Yup.”

Dad: “I don’t know where you get this over-emphasis on the environment. Most people who are ‘that way’ are like that because they have kids or grandkids and are concerned about their futures. You don’t have either. Don’t you think this focus on a single issue is pretty weird?”

Weird? Probably, in the sense that it doesn’t follow the societal norm of the region in which I live. However, the fact that it is ‘weird’ doesn’t make it wrong. […]

I reject the idea that I have to have kids or grandkids to care about the future. […]

As a Christian, my scriptural text tells me that God made man stewards of the earth. […] It seems to me that we have, as a human race, done with the environment exactly the opposite of what the Bible tells us a good steward should do. As a matter of fact, we’ve done even worse than the bad stewards in the parables. […] As a Christian, I feel that we ought to be able to do better. Really, this faith-based reasoning is what leaves me to wonder at the fact that so many people who consider themselves religious support policies that are directly harmful to the environment. I just can’t understand.

Anyway, this is why my father thinks I’m nuts. Apparently, I should be more concerned about abortion or taxes.

Bob is a student at St. Joe’s College Seminary in Chicago and also has a church-affiliated parent. He asked his mom, a Catholic pastoral leader, for her take on abortion — specifically on Obama’s admission that he was probably too “flip” about it in Rick Warren’s interview. Here’s part of her response, which Bob finds “very heartfelt, and very understanding of the complexities”:

Honestly, when i heard Obamas answer to Rick Warren that night, i too
thought that Obama was trying to say that the mysteries of life and when it
begins are too large for him to answer. I think that Obama is a very
thoughtful and caring person, in fact after the Saddleback interviews i told
your Dad that i got the impression that both Obama and McCain were
incredibly decent people and that was a blessing for our nation, no matter
who wins.

[…] I don’t mean to be sexist about this, but i do think that a man who
never carried a child would come more to this opinion, because i say this
with all humility and respect for all of the wonderful men i have been
blessed to know and love in my life, from the moment you and your brother
were concieved, I was totally aware in a deep, inner, unexplainable way that
there was new life within me.

In my work as a nurse, i also remember years ago, shortly after hospital
abortions were more openly allowed, holding a sobbing woman in my arms
because she came back to our surgical floor after having been talked into
aborting her baby, and she wept in my arms realizing that she had just
extinguished a true life within her. Thats another aspect that pro-choice
persons don’t consider, all the years of pain and guilt that women who have
undergone abortions feel when they are rushed into making a decision to get
rid of their baby. Oftentimes these poor women carry that guilt with them
and they marry and raise children and can be overcome with such grief and
guilt that they do abusive things to surviving children - its on the order
of post-traumatic syndrome years after abortions. The press doesn’t talk
much about it, but it is a real medical/psychological phenomonom.

So, I take that into account when each candidate gives their answers,
they each have their own experiences and they are only human.

Unless you are avoiding your parents altogether until Thanksgiving, the campaign is likely to come up in conversation. Why not just hear them out, then post their (or your) wisdom online? Make the family conversation a national one.


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