The election was very disappointing to me. I'm crushed. I don't just live in my neighborhood insulated from the world, getting my $200 child tax credits and spending more on everything else. I travel quite a bit, working in places like Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt. I fully understand how horrible this administration has been towards the planet, and I honestly feel that big business and its oligarchs are the only real winner here. All the talk and hope about youths turning out in droves didn't materialize. The huge voter turnout failed to help Kerry. The left lost seats in the Senate, Daschle lost, the first time that a minority leader didn't win reelection in a very long time. Here in Louisiana to everyone's surprise Vitter became the first Republican Senator ever. The only bright spot was Obama's win in Illinois. The Democrats in the House lost many seats, thanks in part to the illegal redistricting of states such as Texas. It seems the major force driving so many people to vote was not security or the economy, but instead "morality and values." This also materialized in all the ban same sex marriage amendments in 11 states. I'm curious how many people came to the polls based on this issue alone, and if it was put on the ballots mostly to help reelect George W. Bush. So what do I do now?
There is so much misinformation going around. Three out of four Bush supporters believe that stockpiles of WMDs were found in Iraq by inspectors, and that Sadam Hussein planned 9/11. I teach courses related to the Bible and biblical studies. I see this as very valuable in this day and age when the vast majority of the people who voted Republican believe that Jesus would support their agenda. They are obviously not reading the New Testament. I am so amazed that these people could claim to read and embrace the Gospels and come away thinking it means we should engage in preemptive warfare, that all people should not have access to health care, that people making more than $200,000 a year deserve tax breaks. Jesus would never fight for the pharmaceutical companies at the expense of affordible drugs. Jesus used to hang out with the poor, and even prostitutes and tax collectors. Instead of passing amendments of hatred, I feel Jesus would have emphasized love. And Jesus would not have fought for the rights of people to own semi-automatic fire arms. Just a hunch.
It seems Jesus has been hijacked by some biggotted hate mongers like Jerry Falwell. This administration has been unprecidented in its invokation of Jesus. I wish the president would spend less time praying and more time reading a newspaper now and then. So many job losses, a bad economy, an unjust war, people believing that the country is on the wrong track, and still Bush wins the popular vote. The stupid "flip flop" mantra worked, which doesn't speak highly of people's abilities to discern. As a Bible scholar and educator, I believe I do a great job in my classes teaching students how to go to the primary text and read with a critical eye. I've written popular books and websites focussed on examining exactly what the Bible says, especially in context. But it doesn't seem to be enough. I need to start thinking more outside of the box. I need to work harder to help others to see that Jesus was neither a Democrat or a Republican, but a first century Jewish man in Palestine who changed the world with his remarkable message and sacrifice.