Leap Of Faith
We all know what's said in a bruising political campaign often
overstates, overreaches, and just plain isn't true. We've all
heard plenty of that in recent months, and in choosing how you'll
vote for president next Tuesday, we hope people will set aside
much of what they've heard and instead look within themselves
for direction, much as we would with anything we do that really
matters. This choice, this vote, it does really matter.
Our country has been through a very difficult four years. The
economy went into a tailspin when our president took office,
and he spent most of 2001 on vacation while his staff went to
war on 3 fronts: fighting for tax cuts for the wealthy, giving
away our public lands and dismantling regulatory protection
for the environment, and launching a multi-pronged assault on
Thomas Jefferson's 220 year-old wall between church and state
at the behest of the religious right.
Then 9-11 happened. In its wake the president could have asked
almost any sacrifice of us and, united behind him, we'd have
backed it. Instead what he asked for was more tax cuts for people
who don't need them and a war against a country that vicious
as its leadership was, hadn't attacked us and didn't have the
means to try, though it does have, after the Saudis, the world's
largest proven oil reserves. Our military performed brilliantly
but we never sent enough of them to establish civil authority
or keep the peace, and every day, more of our young Americans
in uniform pay the ultimate price for that. Meanwhile because
of the reckless fiscal policy we've maintained, we've failed
to protect social security, failed to fund education adequately,
screwed up the Medicare drug bill, and worst of all, we've utterly,
totally failed at the most important security issue we face:
controlling nuclear proliferation and keeping the former Soviet
arsenal out of terrorist hands. Russia's President Putin begged
for our help with this and we blew him off. In fact our whole
foreign policy these past four years has sent an unmistakable
message to Iran and North Korea and some of the 20 other nuclear-capable
nations in the world: If you don't want to be pre-emptively
taken out by the United States, better get those weapons up
and running fast. All this of course, is water under the
bridge now, but only if we choose to let it continue.
We may of course, vote to do just that, assuming we buy the
idea that these kinds of choices somehow constitute the best
possible protection from the threat of international terrorism.
We don't believe they do. We think they've contributed to global
instability and made our country less safe rather than more
safe from the people who hate us more than they love life, and
are happy to die to prove it.
No one has the answers to the threat of nuclear, chemical, or
biological terrorism and no president can make our justifiable
fears go away. We didn't choose this war but we will in choosing
a president, choose how we'll fight it from this point on. Our
best hope for survival is our God-given intelligence and the
wisdom we glean from it. As Americans, our constitution,
our personal and civil rights, these are our greatest treasures,
the things that make us a nation worth living in and worth dying
for. As much as our personal safety, these are the things that
9-11 and its aftermath have shown us are at risk now.
They are, unmistakably, at risk and not from outside our nation
but from within it. Because we all understand that revolutions
aren't made in the streets these days, they're made in the courts.
And our federal courts you may have noticed, are fast becoming
The Inquisition. And when the wall between church and state
is gone and our foreign policy is The Crusades and our domestic
policy is the end of Jeffersonian democracy and the government
in your bedroom and your hard drive, then together, Al Qaeda
and our own government will have killed the America we've always
known and it will stay dead, perhaps forever.
Fundamentalism, anybody's fundamentalism, is the inability to
deal with complexity, and the world is damn complex. But we
think a president shouldn't take us to war under false pretenses.
We think his primary obligation should be to public health,
not to drug company stockholders. We think forty years of environmental
protection shouldn't be trashed overnight, and the cure to disease
or the choice to bring a child into the world shouldn't be held
hostage to anyone's religious philosophy.
We choose next Tuesday between two men, one who's barely managed
to slide through at whatever he's done and one who's always
excelled, one who's ducked responsibility all his life and one
who's unhesitatingly taken it on. We choose between two men
of faith but only one a missionary. Our position is people should
vote for the more capable leader of the two, whichever their
heart tells them that really is. Sure it's a leap of faith,
but what worth trying, isn't?