Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Forgive, O Lord, Our Severing Ways

once more i'm going to write about politics in the us, then i'll leave the topic for a while. i often wonder what people in other countries make of our political campaigns in this country, especially the current one for the republican presidential nomination. probably most don't follow the intricacies of us politics at all. for those who do, i feel that i must apoligize for the bigoted and intolerant pronouncements of conservatives who are taking all sorts of extreme positions to curry favor with the religious right.

today, i want to address the underlying racism of this campaign for the republican nomination. since president obama was elected, republicans have been angry, vowing publicly to do whatever is necessary to insure that he is a one-term president. this is not so much because of his policies. president obama has done more to reach out to republicans and to bridge the ideological gap between the american left and right than any democratic president in this century. at every turn, republicans have slapped his extended hand and have painted the president as a radical socialist, an enemy of the christian religion, an outsider who is not a true native-born american. no person who investigates the president's political positions, religious statements, or family history can fail to see the prejudices that are at the root of the accusations republicans have made against the president.

for many years, republicans worked diligently to woe the white majority in the south. they have done this through thinly veiled appeals to bigotry, endorsing the harshest positions on "illegal" immigrants, advocating laws whose purpose is to disenfranchise minority voters, drawing congressional district boundaries to insure republican majorities in state legislatures are perpetuated as the voting power of hispancis increases. white southerners never forgave the democrats for advocating racial equality, passing the voting rights act, promoting quotas that help ease the under-representation of minorities in education and the workplace, and similar measures to redress the wrongs of the first two centuries of american history. many of these wrongs were instituionalized in the south and written into state laws.

by appealing to the white southern fear of societal upheaval as the great civil rights leaders and their followers, with the support of most democrats in the national arena, became increasingly assertive, republicans split the voting block of poor southern whites and blacks that franklin roosevelt had built and weakened the southern democratic party. many southern democratic office holders abandoned their party to "convert" to a republican party that used code phrases like "states rights" and "traditional values" to signal its allegiance to the continuation of white control at the expense of the black minority.

when the first black president was elected, the gloves came off and the ugly political fight began. clearly, republicans will stop at nothing to regain power, appealing to the basest racism, as they demonize the president, immigrants, organized labor, gays, proponents of health care as a right for all, those who support a woman's right to control her own life, and those of us who believe that the us should be a pluralistic, tolerant society.

my prayer today is that when we americans go to the polls next november, we will vote with, and for, compassion, turning from bigotry to work together for the common good. may we live our national life as we should live our private lives, making love the central.

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