Is there a reason why we have to suffer through all of these political debates? The candidates seem to be on tour, stopping in all the big venues, trying to extract something from the ticket holders, but it’s not money, it’s votes. It reminds me of Bob Dylan’s Neverending Tour (which actually started in 1988), only there’s less drugs and you can’t dance at the events. I know we used to complain that there were never enough debates, that the candidates should all get on the same stage and hash out their differences before a public audience on a regular basis, so that we uninformed voters could become informed, but I thought that was only after we had whittled it down to two. This is getting ridiculous. With 57 varieties stumping across the country, with less distinction between them than between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (another Dylan reference), things just begin to smell, and it ain’t the fresh odor of lemons, either. There seems to be a conscious effort to lull us to sleep, or perhaps asphyxiate us with the smell of ripe methane gas, in the hope that when (or if) we wake up, we’ll have a new President, and we won’t even remember how we got him (or her).
But that’s not really the point of this post.
Hillary Clinton visited Pastor Rick Warren’s megachurch today. The ostensible purpose was to address the annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church which Warren hosts at his Saddleback Church. Warren invited all the current candidates to appear, but Clinton was the only one who showed up in person; the others sent in pre-recorded videotapes. I have to commend Clinton for being the only one to show up, but I’m a bit disturbed by what she had to say.
Don’t get me wrong. AIDS is a serious subject, one that should be addressed by every one of the Presidential contenders, but it’s a health issue, not a religious issue. Only fundamentalist Protestants could make it a religious issue, because they equate AIDS with homosexuality, and of course we all know their stance on that. (Wide.) The problem with AIDS will eventually be resolved by medicine, not religion. Frankly, there’s not a lot religion can do about AIDS, except perhaps convince the Catholic Church to reverse itself and advocate the use of life saving condoms in the third world. But Clinton didn’t mention that.
She did, however, take the opportunity to exhibit her religious bona fides, in a blatant attempt to remove the fundamentalist and evangelical vote, or at least a significant and influential portion of it, from the Republican camp.
Clinton delivered an unusually personal, often emotional speech that quoted regularly from Scripture – and explored issues including her religious experiences.
“I was fortunate enough to be raised to understand the power and the purpose of prayer … but had I not been, probably one week in the White House would have turned me into one,” she said to laughs.
And she said that in her most difficult times, there was a White House prayer group “whose love and support sustained me.”
Do you think she’s telling them what she thinks they want to hear? Is she pandering to her audience? You can be the judge, but I say yes.
Don’t get me wrong (in case this is getting to be a habit). If she’s the Democratic candidate when the smoke clears next spring, then she’s my candidate, and not because I necessarily like her, but because I’d vote for a dead goat before I’d vote for any of the current crop of Republicans in November. I’m pretty much a staunch Democrat, mainly because it’s my party by default. The Republicans have screwed this country over during the past 30 years, evidencing moral and intellectual bankruptcy in the process, and I’m not happy about it.
But this bothers me:
The visit by the Democratic front-runner to the Orange County megachurch highlighted a changing political strategy among Democrats. National Party chairman Howard Dean, who once dismissed Republicans as a “white Christian party,” has more recently urged Democrats to open their arms to young evangelicals and a new generation of religious leaders such as Warren.
WTF are they thinking? The candidates should be emphasizing science, medicine and technology, not prayer and superstition. The religious fundamentalists should be marginalized, not by us, but by themselves. Their thinking, their contributions to society, their morality represents bronze age mentalities, not 21st century intelligence. They’re on the decline, and they should be allowed to go the way of all flesh, not pandered to because some politician wants a vote. In getting into bed with them, the Democrats are giving credence to backward thinking and superstition, and in the process bestowing power and influence on religious leaders that don’t deserve it, nor should have it, in a secular country and government such as ours.
Clinton, in her talk at Saddleback, told the audience of what she said was one of her favorite Scriptural passages, “the line from James: ‘faith without work is dead.’ “
Do you think she actually was aware of that passage before her speech writer dug it out?
Call me cynical, but I smell something.