The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23 NRSV

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's an Election Year

Happy New Year!

Of course, I brought the New Year in by going to worship last night. I greatly enjoyed the testimonies and reflections and gave thanks myself for 2007, a year of great joys and challenges.

We have now actually crossed over into the election year. Many are reflecting on an election year 40 years ago 1968 which was a year of enormous transition and struggle. In just a couple of days, Iowans will caucus and give a couple of Democrats and a couple of Republicans reason to celebrate and send a couple others in each party home until the next election year.

I admit that I remain undecided about the field. I still like Clinton, Obama, and Edwards and would be pretty delighted to have either as President. I have generally been rooting for Clinton because I think she is an able politician and leader. For me, it's not a Bill thing, because I found him to be a disappointing President. He was far too pragmatic and not nearly progressive enough for my tastes. Yes, of course, I missed him desperately once The Decider took office.)What I like about Hillary is that at every turn she does better than people expect her to do, in ways that are also unexpected. She has proven to be an able senator who has represented the people of New York and earned the respect of senators on both sides of the aisle - a grudging respect you can be sure. And I have to say that as far as I am concerned it is time for a woman in that office.

Obama is clearly inspiring, but I am concerned about his lack of experience in national politics. There is no question that his record of bipartisan activity while in Illinois was admirable. His early opposition to the Iraq war was right. But while Washington-as-usual is problematic, I am not sure that unfamiliarity with the system provides the strategic advantage needed to reform the system or even to know what you want it to look like once it's reformed. He's just too green.

I love Edwards's message. He sounds like a real Democrat. And if this were not a year when we have a shot at a woman or an African American or Latino President, he would be my favorite. There's just not enough that distinguishes his basic message to make me forgo my hope to break the white male mode that has monopolized our nation's highest office. But I really do wish him and his wife well.

So to recap: Hillary can be too pragmatic (some might say cynical) and centrist; Obama is a little too green; Edwards doesn't represent the fundamental change that this election could promise. By the way, you might notice that I did not mention electability as a drawback to Clinton. I don't think it's true. When people get to know Hillary, they tend to like her. They would get to know her during the campaign. In any case, we can't know how a campaign will turn out.

As for the Republicans, I don't like any of them. Each attempts to be more conservative and hawkish than the other. Perhaps their behavior as President would be less reactionary than their campaigning, but to paraphrase Mike Huckabee, "If you lie to get the job, then what will you do to keep it?"

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