Distorted Mirrors: What Our Candidates Tell Us About Ourselves

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Photo credit: cnbc.com – Getty Images

Snark Meter Sorta Snarky.002

I’m doing it. I am adding to the word count on the two people Americans are most tired of talking about. Fret not, though. I won’t bore you with my opining on their political positions, policies, or personal lives. I just want to ponder for a moment what our candidates’ very public moral and ethical question marks might say about where we are as a nation.

Consider a few previous presidents…

  • After a historic religious revival[1], a revolution, and inventing government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” we picked a leader of self-restraint. One who stood for virtue and honesty. George Washington reflected our values.
  • In 1860 a single injustice cast a pall over America. We elected a single issue President with the resolve to oppose that injustice. Abraham Lincoln reflected our values.
  • In the 1930’s, with the economy crippled by the Depression. America chose a president who was crippled, yet courageous. Franklin Roosevelt reflected our values.
  • In the 1950’s, wanting to stand up against the spread of communism, we elected the general who won WWII. Ike reflected our values.

Many have fretted about what so and so’s beliefs and leadership will do to our future. But it seems our leaders don’t shape our beliefs as much as reflect them back to us.  If so, do you like what you see when you look into our collective mirror? While this may be cringe provoking, especially considering Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s historically high unfavorable ratings, is it possible that our candidates are simply our values and our behaviors staring back at us?

Perhaps we need to ask some hard questions about our ethics…how morally upright is our thought life and media usage? What about our conspicuous consumption…and fears…or the effects of millions of us cutting corners and winking away little dishonesties. What about the anger? Moses told the people, “Your sins will find you out.”[2]

Perhaps our candidates are just the public face of our private selves being found out?

We are fooling ourselves to think our candidates are “them.” The cartoon character Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!” Surely our candidates moral peccadillos are, at some level, a reflection of our own weak moral knees and the fact that we no longer seem to spend much time on them.

What should one do when looking into a mirror and not liking what is looking back? Surely the answer is not to try to alter the mirror, but to fix what the mirror is reflecting. Perhaps the place to start is in the privacy of the voting booth. When you go into that booth Tuesday, I encourage you to see the candidates for what they are: Flawed humans who are a little too much like you and I for comfort. Say a prayer for each of them. Say a prayer for your nation. Then cast yourself upon the mercy of God. And when you leave that booth, go and love and serve, nurture and nourish each and every person you meet. That way, when we look into the voting booth shaped mirror four years from now, we might feel a little better about what we see looking back.

*“Where are we?” Link to Sermon containing this idea. Text: Hebrews 11:1-11

[1] The Great Awakening

[2] Numbers 32:23

 

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Duped?

I don’t do political rants. First, because I believe the most important races are for school board and town council and no one wants to read about those. Second, because political rants alienate half your friends. The good news is that I have found a way to alienate 100% of my friends, making it possible for me to put up the first, and probably only, political post you will ever read from me. How does one make everyone angry? First, to say I like Obama. Those are “fightin’ words” to half of America. Second, to say, “He duped me and everyone else on his email list.” Those are “fightin’ words” to the other half. How were we duped?

I received multiple emails like the one on top from the Obama campaign urging me to give immediately because of how badly the campaign was being out-fundraised by Romney. Tuesday night CNN ran this graphic revealing that the President not only wasn’t desperately behind in fundraising, but Obama actually outspent Romney 342 to 164 million dollars. Days before the end of the election and I was being told of an urgent need to “get on board” financially when in actuality the President was outspending his opponent by 178 MILLION dollars more than a 2:1 margin.

Hmmnnn.

We live in a great country. We listened to two good men campaign on different solutions for our problems. We went out and made our choice. I just wish telling the truth were held in higher regard in the process.