Election Blues

Count me among the crowd of people who wishes they could just go to sleep and wake up long after the election is over.

Neither choice appeals to me, and there don’t seem to be any exciting new options on the horizon for four years from now.

The debates seemed like a guy who’ll say anything to get a vote, but who remains a complete wild card when it comes to leadership, versus a guy with some admirable convictions, lousy communication skills, and a tendency to see things only in the most simplistic terms.

I want to vote for someone who

  • loves God
  • loves compassion and mercy
  • loves the law
  • offers the nation an example of patience, wisdom, dignity, and eloquence
  • cares about taking care of the natural world
  • values life both born and unborn
  • tells the truth
  • cares about protecting innocent lives in war-torn places like Baghdad; beautiful places like Santa Fe, New Mexico; the dark alleys of Seattle; the AIDS-plagued, debt-ridden, civil-war zones of Africa; and the bloody shadows of the Sudan
  • cares about our troops and their safety
  • understands the importance of humility and admitting mistakes
  • understands that the definition of “Catholic” is not wide open to interpretation
  • will not make generalizations about what “the American people want” since “the American people” represents a wide range of differing “wants,” many of them unhealthy and unwise
  • can complete a sentence without making grammar teachers cry out in dismay…

…for starters.

I can dream, can’t I?

I hear a lot of people saying this choice is a choice of “the lesser of two evils.” I don’t subscribe to that. I don’t think either man is evil. I think both men have strengths, and both have flaws. And I do believe both want to do the right thing. But even when these two put on their best for the cameras, I do not come away saying, “I trust that man. I admire that man. I’d follow that man.”

The thing that is most dispiriting about this election, however, is that most of those public figures trying to rally Americans to vote one way or the other are not doing so by directing us to believe that something good is possible. They are instead directing us to turn our vote into an act of violence, an act of hatred, and act of lashing out against one of these two human beings. I am beaten down by the violent slogans of bumper stickers I see in traffic, accusing a candidate of vile things as though all of the world’s problems have been caused by that one man. Our country will not rise to any heights on the power of vitriol. It will only sink itself deeper into the pit.

We need a guy with big dreams, yes. But we also need to train ourselves to be a people of dreams, not a people of complaints who only rise and cheer for somebody who knows how to craft a wicked documentary-style character assassination.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • Superman

    I think this country has come to a point of not looking at what is best for the U.S. but what is best for me, what I want.
    If he is standing up for life and protecting the moral fabric of our nation, criticizing a man for not saying everything grammatically correct is petty. (Come on Jeffery.)
    In this election we need to look beyond the man to the administration and its idealogoy. The man will be here for the next four years, but the impact of his idealogy will be felt for decades.
    This is not a time to stumble over personal preferences and petty issues. This is probably the most important election of our generation and possibly the next. The moral issues at stake here are issues that will shape our nation for good or evil for the next fifty years.
    In a close election like this, every person votes whether they mark a ballot or not.
    God forbid that Christians become the hanging chad of this election.

  • Anonymous

    Sage thoughts J.O. Has politics ever been more depressing? The Election is a nightmare. Both Parties are going so hard to make voters care more about what they HATE than look critically at the issues & morals (Fox News comes to mind). And I’m caught up in it-I’m voting to get rid of Bush rather than to elect Kerry. So my vote isn’t based on a belief that Kerry can be a better President, rather I want to get rid of W.

    The Bush Administration hammer Kerry through lies and fear (the swift boat stuff was disgraceful) in the finest Republican tradition. Then the Bush Administration get THUMPED by a schlumpy filmmaker from Flint Michigan. There seems a perverse symmetry in that. For me the issue is Truth. And I think the Bush Administration has lied. It may sound partisan, but my blood would be boiling at the Democrats if they’d run been responsible for the whole Iraq-9/11-WMD-AlQueda debacle. To it’s soooo sad that history may show that this is the most corrupt administration since Nixon. I would LOVE to eat my words on this.

  • Foolish Knight

    Here here! You’ve just put into words what I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks.


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