Observing an Election

Do you feel like this girl:

If not, read on! I am deliberately posting this just after the polls close here in Virginia (although they are still open further west) as I don’t want to seen as trying to influence the result. But I don’t yet know any results, or even any reliable predictions.

It is an interesting experience to observe an election here in the USA, and in one of the key swing states. Actually this is not for the first time – I was in North Carolina for my Bible translation work during the 2000 election. I don’t have a vote, as I am not a US citizen. But I do have an interest in the result, as a taxpayer and husband of a business owner in the USA.

If I had had a vote and had decided on the basis of self-interest, that might not have been what some would expect, as for better or for worse the economy of this region is highly dependent on federal government money. In fact I would have decided more on principle, but I don’t want to turn this post into a partisan one by explaining that further.

In this area the streets and country roads are, or until very recently were, lined with election posters. Not surprisingly, as this is a relatively conservative rural area, the majority  of the signs have been for Romney. But there are also a good number of Obama supporters in this small city.

Meanwhile our home telephone, which we hardly use (but have to have to get home internet), has been ringing regularly with election calls. Most seem to have been from the Republicans. Indeed yesterday I put the phone down on Mitt Romney. This was partly because he called me “Jennifer”. Well, I guess it wasn’t really him, but a recording. I would have done the same if Barack Obama had called, but perhaps not quite so quickly!

I haven’t watched much TV, but the little I have seen has been punctuated with very regular political commercials. Also the TV channels are said to be highly politically polarized.

Today, election day, I have been shocked by the allegations of fraud and attempted manipulation of the polls. I suspect that these allegations, on both sides, have been exaggerated. I am also shocked by the threats of some that there will be violence if their favored candidate loses, but I would think these are also exaggerated – but we may see quite soon.

So all in all watching this election has been an interesting experience, but not really very different from a British one. I guess the real difference has been the sheer amount of money spent, largely on TV ads. I’m glad political ads are not allowed in the UK, and that the broadcast news media at least try to be politically neutral.

Finally, I would like to quote something I wrote in a comment here on the day President Obama was elected:

I consider an issue to be a real issue in an election when one or other of the candidates has made it a real issue and proposed specific action on it. As far as I can tell neither Obama nor McCain proposed any action which would have any definite effect on the number or wrongness of abortions in the USA. This was only an issue for those who chose to make it an issue, and were perhaps dreaming that VP Palin or supreme court judges whom McCain might have appointed might do something about abortion, which is in practice highly unlikely to have happened. Perhaps slightly more likely is that Obama’s social policies will have a side effect of reducing abortion, but for that we can only hope and pray. But I do consider it irresponsible that many Christians were deciding their vote largely on the abortion issue when in fact there was so little to distinguish the candidates on this issue.

It seems to me that exactly the same is true of this election, if you replace “McCain” with “Romney” and “Palin” with “Ryan”. So, I repeat, I consider it irresponsible that many Christians are deciding their vote largely on the abortion issue when in fact there is so little to distinguish the main candidates on this issue. Well, it is too late now – but a recent tweet suggesting that evangelicals in Virginia are staying at home may suggest that this factor is less important than it might have been.

7 thoughts on “Observing an Election

  1. Wow, no offense, but you need to high tail it back to your homeland. Evangelicals are NOT sitting out voting in Virginia. Obama is the most pro abortion President since Roe v Wade. His words, “if my daughter made a MISTAKE, I’d want every available option for her.” He is famous for promoting letting the child die on the operating table if surviving a botched abortion. Romney will “de-fund Planned Parenthood,” and would like to see Roe v Wade overturned. Paul Ryan is as pro-life as one could be. You need to get out more often…or better yet, just leave. The Nazis were not justified by saying, “Don’t you know that there is more than just the issue of the Jews? The issues are more complex than that! What of the poor in this country, who cannot afford housing? What about the sick and malnourished? Don’t you care about these people? Don’t you claim to be a follower of Jesus?!” Supporting a murderous political agenda with such an argument is tragic!
    And what do we know about Obama? He is the single most anti-life proponent that has ever placed his hand on the Bible to take the oath of office.

  2. Yes, Phil. You should see some of the things I have read on Facebook about God cursing America because of abortion. Doesn’t look to me like I am living in a nation which God has cursed for 40 years because abortion is allowed.

    It now looks like the anti-abortion extremists didn’t get their way. But it won’t make any significant difference to the abortion statistics. And I doubt if many pro-choice people voted for Obama because of that.

  3. Extremists indeed: just stumbled across this report – Tyndale House (the USA publishers, not to be confused with Tyndale House, Cambridge UK) want exemption from contributing to the Obama health insurance because some of the funds will be used in abortion related healthcare: Bible Publisher Asks for Prayer During HHS Mandate Hearing

    Can’t help thinking what a mess the NHS would be in if people could opt out of National Insurance because they disagreed with certain treatments being made available… *sigh*

  4. Phil, on this one I see both sides of the argument. Employers shouldn’t be forced to pay directly for what goes against their conscience. Nor should they be free to profit from their religious scruples or force their employees to follow them. The confusion here is in linking the compulsory insurance too closely to the employer. The solution, I would suggest, is to allow employers to opt out of providing birth control and abortion insurance, but make them pay an extra tax instead which could fund state provision for these things.

  5. Political ads are not all banned in the UK. I think newspaper ads are allowed. Certainly posters and direct mail are allowed, also direct phone calls. But there are strict limits on expenditure which limits the bombardment. And TV is restricted to official party political broadcasts for which each party is allocated time slots.

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