Make America Whole Again 

Imagine a nation where we voted for candidates instead of against them. Now make that vision a reality.

click to enlarge Robin Meyers

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Robin Meyers

Chances are you are reading this only hours before a midterm election whose stakes could not be higher. Regardless of your party affiliation, your understanding of the role of government, or your position on abortion or gay rights, the decisions we are about to make will determine what kind of country we live in, and whether American democracy stays on life support. Everyone agrees on one thing now, namely that we have never been so divided as a nation. Our political leaders routinely cast those with whom they disagree as the enemy, even the devil, and the rhetoric of hatred and division are making it impossible for us to do anything to avoid the violence that lurks at the bottom of this slippery slope.

What do we do? We vote for those politicians who promise to bring us together, not those who use fear to divide and conquer. We vote as if there is nothing more important in the world right now than someone with a vision of equality and prosperity for all Oklahomans, not just white, straight Christians. We vote for those politicians who seem to possess empathy and a moral imagination. We vote for public servants who will actually “serve” the public, not use their power to enrich themselves or their friends. We vote for candidates with policy ideas and positions, not just soundbites in the culture wars. Unending corruption cannot be accepted as the new “Oklahoma Standard.”

May I suggest a new kind of voter scorecard? Although it is maddening to watch political commercials, they do tell us a lot about the candidates. Those that say, essentially, “Don’t vote for me, vote against the other guy,” should be rejected. Those who provide no specific policy platforms, other than to save us from the coming supposed socialist Armageddon, will only use their power to further marginalize those with whom they disagree rather than providing everyone a seat at the table.

Those who cannot recognize, much less celebrate, that both parties have something to offer, and that compromise is the art of politics, will only drive us further apart. Vote for candidates who act like adults and who can admit when they make mistakes. When a candidate makes gauzy commercials that celebrate white privilege or uses his or her children as props for that tired, pseudo-trinity of faith, family, and freedom, beware. Look for candidates who have real families, real struggles, and perhaps even a real gay or lesbian child because those are real Oklahomans too.

Look for humility, especially for candidates who can say, “I don’t know.” A candidate who understands that Christianity is not the only faith in the world, thank goodness, especially given the behavior of millions of its adherents. Look for people whose faith makes them especially mindful of the poor, the orphan, the widow, and those who have fallen through the cracks of our society and who are crying out for help. We desperately need a national immigration policy, but we do not need to use the desperation of immigrants to gain political power. There but for the grace of God go all of us.

Look for candidates who trust women instead of fearing them. For half a century, we trusted women to make their own reproductive decisions, and during that time, not a single woman was ever forced to have an abortion. If they opposed it, they just said no, and that is their God-given right. Now we are forbidding every woman, in every situation in which she might find herself pregnant, from making her own choice. Vote for candidates who know that being pro-choice does not mean you are pro-abortion.

Vote for candidates who understand why Liz Truss was the shortest serving prime minister in British history, because no matter how many times she may have listened to Lionel Richey and Diana Ross, it is not 1981, and trickle-down economics is the greatest political myth of them all. Instead of enriching the already rich, let’s vote for candidates who want to enrich the poor, instead of expecting charity to recreate the middle class.

Most of all, vote for candidates who have a beating heart and the soul of a servant, not those who think that God has called them into a holy battle against their political opponents—as if public service were the Crusades. The gap between rich and poor has never been greater in this country nor has the power of money to corrupt and control our national discourse. If you are one of those people who thinks the world is going to hell in a handbasket, then ask yourself why so many of us still don’t vote? People died so we could vote, and it is our sacred obligation to make it as easy, safe and secure as possible. The truest thing I ever heard was that people get exactly the government that they deserve.

Is this what we deserve? If not, may I suggest that wild beasts not keep you from the polls. There is no excuse not to vote that can possibly justify what happens when you don’t. Perhaps we can save ourselves again. America has done it before.

Or, as Dylan Thomas put it, “Do not go gently into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

The Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers is pastor of First Congregational Church UCC in Norman and retired senior minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC in Oklahoma City. He is currently Professor of Public Speaking, and Distinguished Professor of Social Justice Emeritus in the Philosophy Department at Oklahoma City University, and the author of eight books on religion and American culture, the most recent of which is, Saving God from Religion: A Minister’s Search for Faith in a Skeptical Age.


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