I was at a sporting event on Saturday afternoon, and a friend told me he was "afraid" that Barack Obama was going to be our next president.
(I think "afraid" was the word he used. It might have been "concerned." I was surprised when the conversation went in a political direction, so I'm not sure on the exact language. But my friend clearly was not happy about the prospect of an Obama presidency.)
I've known this friend for almost 30 years, and he's someone I consider to be of considerable intelligence and fine character. He's also quick with a quip or a corny joke, and I've always enjoyed his company.
We've had a number of discussions on "deep" topics--religion, politics, etc.--and I think we've always respected each other's opinions, even though we tend to come at things from different directions.
You might say my friend fits the classic profile of a Republican voter. He's a white, male Southerner in his 60s who lives in a suburban area and is a regular church-goer (Baptist). For good measure, I know that he's "pro life" on abortion rights and "pro gun" on the Second Amendment.
Still, I was taken back a bit by my friend's tone on Obama. I suspected my friend probably would vote Republican. But his tone indicated that he had a genuine fear that Obama would take the United States in some kind of dreadful direction.
I've gradually learned over the years when it's a good time to let a political discussion slide, and this seemed like one of those times. As I recall, I did indicate that I didn't share my friend's concern, but I politely (I thought) tried to let the subject die.
Before letting the subject die, though, I made a statement that I guess was intended to personalize things just a bit. And I said it only because this friend has some familiarity with the legal woes my wife and I have experienced over the past eight years.
I'm not sure if my friend had ever made the connection between our travails and Republican politics, particularly the Karl Rove variety that has come to permeate the Deep South. But I think enough of my friend that I thought I should spell it out.
So I said something like this: "You know, people in the Republican Party, with connections to the Bush Administration, have tried to ruin my wife and me. They've cost me my job. They've cost us our life's savings. This election is pretty personal, and pretty important, to me."
I meant to say it--and I think I did--in a friendly, non-threatening way. I guess I just wanted to help my friend understand that the results of presidential elections can hit closer to home than any of us might ever dream.
Come to think of it, the desire to share that message with others is probably what led me to start this blog.
As November 4 approaches, many of us focus on issues like the economy, gas prices, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I hope Americans will not forget that the next president will control the course of the Department of Justice and who serves as U.S. attorneys in districts across the country. Those decisions might determine whether you have honest or corrupt state judges at your local courthouse.
In my neck of the woods near Birmingham, Alabama, corrupt Republican judges cheat with impunity because they know U.S. attorney Alice Martin (a George W. Bush appointee) is not about to prosecute them for their crimes. (Will an Obama Justice Department clean up such messes? I'm not sure. But at least he should turn the Justice Department back in a healthier direction.)
So what about my friend? Well, I probably can't do anything to help him feel better about the prospect of an Obama presidency. But I do hope he, and others, will read this excellent piece from Frank Schaeffer at Huffington Post.
It's a thoughtful, balanced essay that indicates Obama might be the right man for our troubled times. And I see no reason to believe that John McCain is the right man.