I grew up in a household of Democrats. True, my parents were part of the famous "Reagan Democrats" who jumped ship in 1980 because of Jimmy Carter's disastrously inept presidency. But they were hardly, contrary to the portrait painted by Republican pundits today, in lockstep with Reagan. Many was the time that my Dad would go off about something Reagan did. They appreciated what he did when they thought it was right, and criticized what he did when they thought he was wrong. There were times, youngster that I was, I forgot that they had voted for Reagan, to hear their criticisms of him.
The rest of the family, however, held to the party line. They liked Reagan personally (back then you could), but would not vote outside of the Democratic party for anything. It is that level of absolute loyalty to something like a party, no matter what, that is one of the things the US Bishops warn against when it comes to voting. Thought I would throw that in there. So it wasn't surprising that I tended to lean Left in my political views during college. True, I tended to support Reagan in terms of foreign policy, but since I was a liberal agnostic, my sympathies went Democrat more often than not.
By the time I converted to Christianity, I was definitely more to the center, perhaps right of. The issue of abortion had begun to tweak my conscience, and I had watched so many of those grand, lofty dogmas of liberalism begin to be deconstructed by liberals. Pretty soon, I was starting to notice that the most judgmental, the most self-righteous, the most dogmatic, the most intolerant people in the room were those who once paraded under the banner of relative morality and live and let live liberal enlightenment.
Still, there was enough skepticism in me to keep me from ever jumping on board and waving a flag for the GOP. The warmongering Wall Street bombs and bank accounts party is what I had grown up seeing, and I wasn't ready to sign on. When the ethically challenged Bill Clinton was spanked in 1994, I didn't do much more than laugh at his ghostly performance the day after the election. Several I knew in seminary were no more convinced, reminding ourselves that to many Republicans, Christianity simply came with baseball and Norman Rockwell. If the Church was to be allowed at all, it was as a subservient partner to the political ambitions of the party.
Even by the mid-90s, when all faith in the media's objectivity was dashed on the rocks of the 96 election and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, I was hesitant to join the Republicans even as I watched the Democrats jettison one thing after another that I could use to justify going back to my family's roots. Then I moved to Ohio. In 2000, I did not support George W. Bush. To me, he was someone who had no business getting the nomination, but who had used celebrity and wealth to ramrod his way into the party's top spot. I was also not a fan of John McCain, because he, like most idealists, seemed to fail at the basic qualification of being as pure and straight shooting as he insisted he was. Because of this, and because I dearly wanted to see the Clinton era of 'lies, not problem' put to an end, I wished to vote for someone I thought would be a better alternative. Since in Ohio, you must belong to a party to vote in the primary, I begrudgingly joined the Republican Party, simply to cast my vote for who I hoped would pull out the nomination.
Since then, I've not been enamored with the Republicans as much as I've been aghast at the Democrats. I consider the thing called liberalism to be a post-Christian revolution That is why, IMHO, Christian traditions that attempt to embrace the various ideals of this revolution are doomed to fail. You can't buy kosher ham, you can't fuse Christianity to a movement which believes all religion is myths and fairy tales designed to make sense of the universe. You just can't. The rotting away of those traditions that try to fuse the two are the proof. This, in addition to the Democrats increasingly tolerating forces that are as hostile to traditional Christian beliefs as central Europe was to Jewish culture in the 20s, seals the deal.
Still, the Republicans scarcely have been better. Despite the obvious results, many still believe that by making it easier for millionaires and billionaires to make more money, all will miraculously trickle down to the least of these in our nation. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to look at the graphs and see this isn't the case. Not to mention the Bush administration's embarrassingly inept prosecuting of the war against terrorism. True, I consider his political opposition to be just as guilty. If I'm to believe we're willing to slaughter millions for oil, I also have no problem believing the other side of the aisle would gladly trip up our own forces, even to the point of their deaths, in order to score political victory points.
In addition, you had Bush and the Republicans spending like drunken sailors and ignoring the warning signs of an economy on the brink in just the same way that the Democrats under Clinton had ignored them. I don't blame one party or the other for the economic meltdown. Some of it had nothing to do with either party, but both parties have their share of the blame. But most troubling has been the GOP tendency to embrace things once seen as being in the domain of the evil society. I'm talking torture, I'm talking these drone attacks and the president's growing ability to assassinate individuals without trial or proof of guilt.
Not that the GOP has done it all. Much of this has been pushed under the Obama administration. While Obama promised to change everything, I think most of us realize he has changed nothing at all. A weak and ineffectual leader, he has taken the worst of everything he was given and continued it, and the main changes were things that were morally and practically suspect at worse.
Yet Romney, with all he has to run with, has done nothing other than suggest he will follow the classic GOP mantra that if we just make it easier for millionaires and billionaires to get more money, all will be well. And issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage, torture techniques, and yes, our Drone War sans due process? I don't know if he even thinks of these things. I don't know if he cares. If he would just make a definitive statement. If he would just stand up and say yes, no, or something. If he would be hot or cold. But he seems to act as if he can't be bothered with such things, that he says whatever at any given moment, and his main concern is to structure the economy around those at the top of the ladder. That's it.
Thomas McDonald has it right over at God and the Machine. It's this reluctance to take a stand that has me wishing anyone else had been nominated to oppose Obama. It was said best on a combox yesterday, and it fits my views perfectly: As of now at least, Obama deserves to loose, but Romney doesn't deserve to win. Alas.