Tuesday, November 04, 2008

View From the Trenches in a Swing State

I spent 3-4 hours this morning volunteering at the local Obama precinct house in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.

They said what they needed was canvassers. People to go door to door with their lists of voters in high priority districts to ensure they knew where to go (election day precincts are different from early voting precincts), that they had voted, or whether they needed any assistance getting to the polls.

It was raining steadily all morning, but the turnout in the precinct house was impressive. Some of the people I rode or worked with said that in comparison to previous elections, a high percentage of people indicated they had already voted (early or earlier in the day) or were heading out to do so.

I've heard over and over that voter turnout favors Obama. If that is the case, things look good in these trenches. I was worried about the weather, but, again, many had already voted and those who were on there way were not to be deterred. Just about any model for a McCain victory that I've seen depends upon polling seriously mismeasuring voter enthusiasm or turnout.

A side note, too.

This is the first time I've felt strongly enough about an election to donate time or money. Participating in the process does make such a difference. I would urge many of my friends or colleagues who are indifferent or undecided (God knoweth how) to be a bit more engaged rather than taking the "I'm undecided CONVINCE me" posture. That low level of interest tends to lead to apathy. Getting out, even if it is just a couple of hours (I spend 2-3 hours on two different days canvassing neighborhoods and disseminating information) takes you away from your Internet or neighborhood bubble and shows you how people live. It moves the consequences of an election (local or national) from the category of the abstract to the real.

To my friends who want to vote Obama but are concerned or influenced by Republican rhetoric regarding Roe v. Wade, I make a last minute appeal:

If all you cared about were legalized abortion on demand, you wouldn't be undecided, would you? The fact that you are struggling tells me on some level, in your heart of hearts, you really want to vote for Obama but are afraid--of your (sub)community, friends, maybe even family. It's okay. God gave you a mind to reason and a conscience to listen to. There is more than one commandment and we all fail every day to be perfect. There are people who are great Christians in both political parties--who disagree about how to reduce abortions (and unwanted pregnancies for that matter). I won't repeat all of the arguments here, because most of you have heard them before.

What I will say is--I give you permission to vote for Obama. If you lose your credibility or respect as a Christian because of your vote, then your friends and community don't care about the sum total of your relationship with God and development of your faith, they only care that you are either "with us or against us."

George MacDonald wrote in Wilfrid Cumbermede:

The upper hand of influence I had over him I attribute to the greater freedom of my training, and the enlarged ideas which had led my uncle to avoid enthralling me to his notions. He believed that truth could afford to wait until I was capable of seeing it for myself, and that the best embodiments of truth are but bonds and fetters to him who cannot accept them as such. When I could not agree with him he would say with one of his fine smiles, "We'll drop it then, Willie. I don't believe you have cuaght my meaning. If I am right, you will see it some day, and there's no hurry."

Many will tell you there is a hurry, and urgency. That you agreeing with them is a matter of life and death. That may even be true, but I'm not sure that it is God's way. Even in the matters of life and death truth must be truth to the listener or it cannot carry the force of accepted fact. Don't let others decide for you or spiritually bully you into going against your beliefs.

MacDonald also wrote in The Hope of the Gospel:

If then we go wrong, it will be in the direction of the right, and with such aberration as will be easier to correct than what must come of refusing to imagine, and leaving the dullest traditional prepossessions to rule our hearts and minds, with no claim but the poverty of their expectations from the paternal riches.

Trust yourself, but more importantly, trust God. Believe that if you will but move in the direction of the right as you see and feel it (even if that is not the direction that seemingly makes sense to your friends or comrades) that you will train your heart to be obedient to the convictions God places there and any errors you make will be "easier to correct" than will be the results of refusing to imagine, refusing to think that you could be right and those who are so very sure could be wrong. Easier to correct, indeed, than the results of substituting someone else's conviction for your judgment, and taking the path of least resistance rather than the one that you think to be true.

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