So tonight we're having a few people come by to watch the election returns at the church. I'm careful about making political endorsements—not because I'm concerned about my tax-exempt status, but because we rarely understand the impact of these events in real time.
I'm glad it will soon be over. We’ll be able to restore our friendships with our friends of opposing political persuasions, and our Facebook statuses will return to commenting about kids and kitten videos.
It’s tough – especially when there is so much passion in this election—for people to talk with each other about their politics. As a priest, my work is about holding a community with very different views together. As I had previously posted, I have a few rules and assumptions about politics that allow me to continue speaking with people who think differently than I do. Here they are:
- We strive to be humble winners and magnanimous losers. Sometimes we win; sometimes we lose. Outrage is reserved for injustice. A president may win; but it should not be with suppressing the vote.
- Electoral politics is part theatre, part war. It’s not the same as governance.
- Politicians are more responsive to organized constituencies that understand power.
- Politics takes practice. No politician gets everything right immediately.
- Cable news, talk radio, emails, or bumper stickers should not be confused with accuracy or understanding. Instead, go to parties and ask questions. Much more fun.
- The political process is not designed to make everyone happy all the time.
- The politicians we elect are not always responsible for their successes or failures that happen on their watch. Gas prices will rise and the climate will continue to change no matter who gets elected.
- We do not demonize our opponents, though it is delightful.
- We do not want politicians to be saints. We want them to govern effectively.
- We honor the office that people have and respect their right to make decisions.
- Nobody has clean hands. Including the electorate.
- The most important work remains in our neighborhoods and communities.
I can, of course, still advocate for good government, responsible leadership and the rights of those who don't have a vote. But this list is what I think of when I pull the lever, and when I think of my friends who want the other candidate.