I caught a glimpse of the first presidential candidate debate last night. I watched clips on my phone while at work, read the CNN live blog feed, read my “friends” comments in Facebook, browsed editorial responses in the media this morning…
Obama looks much older than he did 4 years ago. Why on earth would he want this crazy difficult job for another 4? Both candidates wore the cheery smiles and color-coded ties and firm handshakes that we’ve come to expect from our politicians. An acquaintance of mine, a young man who struggles with developmental disability and depends in large part on social security and disability and Medicare for his well-being, commented that he wasn’t sure he even wanted to vote, it seemed too tough a call between these two shiny-slick candidates. My sister told me she applied for Medicare for their as-of-yet-unborn daughter. Neither she nor her husband have health insurance (or the finances to purchase insurance) that will cover this child. And of course we know the stories, that for every person who truly needs the assistance, there is another taking advantage of “the system.”
We know the stories, but do we know the people? I think this is my greatest discomfort in all of this election process. We complain that the candidates are unrelatable, too wealthy, too far removed from our daily experience. Would it really make us feel better to read through Mr. Romney’s tax returns? I doubt it.
This is what I really want to hear from these men (and where are the women anyway?). It seems so simple to me:
I don’t have all the solutions to all of your problems. I am not sure if I can create policies that will keep your husband employed. When I say I will create jobs, well honestly I won’t be able to take credit for that because it’ll take Congress and corporations and small businesses and tax reform and an act of God to really create the jobs you’re dreaming of. I hear your anger and your disappointment. I hear the heaviness of your heart with the loss of your children and parents in faraway places you’ve never cared about. I know you’re concerned about immigration and the economy and I know that you aren’t even sure what you want or think sometimes. I am not certain I can solve all of these problems, particularly since it’ll take me a while to get started, my opponents will try to slow me up and I’ll have to spend most of my last year campaigning to lead you again. But I would like to try. I want to lead you because I care about you and I think I can help.
If someone would say this from the stage, that man or woman would have my vote. As it is, I feel as conflicted as ever, tempted not to vote, but leaning towards voting with my conscience, even if that means voting for a candidate that will not win. I think it feels sometimes like none of this will affect me. Until I think about my niece’s pediatrician visits and my husband’s military paycheck and my grandfather’s taxes and my friend’s disability and the sweet immigrant families I have met and my own dental care… Do these men realize how much we are counting on their signatures, their decisions, their judgment calls?
And I realize, reflecting back on what I wrote above, this is one of the main aspects that draws me to Jesus. He promises to fix things and he really does it. Or when there is trouble up ahead, he straight up says, In this world, you will have trouble… He makes no empty claims about who he is or what he is about to do. He is someone to hold on to when I’m concerned about these possibly petty issues of world leadership shifts.
In this work you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.