Archive for the ‘american politics’ Category
I watched the inauguration yesterday with interest. I find it fascinating that in a country which is determinedly secular in its government, there is so much prayer in its political ceremony. At times I didn’t quite know if I was watching a service, a concert, or a political rally. The most jarring moments for me came during the two musical interludes. Aretha Franklin (looking fabulous in that hat) sang something called ‘Let Freedom Ring’ to the tune of the British National Anthem. So that was weird. And then the quartet played ‘Air and Variations’ based around the tune of Lord of the Dance. I honestly did not know that this was a US folk song with wholly different words until I saw it on the internet much later. So for me, especially given some of the criticisms of Obama appearing to be setting himself up as a Messiah-figure, it sounded a very odd note indeed.
Surely not an unintended connotation, but nonetheless one which I am still puzzled about, were the links Obama seemed to be drawing between himself and Fred Astaire. In the speech there was the ‘Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again’ from the Rogers/Astaire film, ‘Swing Time’ and then later, speaking about his wife, he said that she had done everything he did, only backwards and in heels, echoing Ginger Rogers somewhat scathing words about Astaire. Maybe someone can explain to me why Obama wants to be thought of as twinkle toes?
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Some thoughts from one who is no expert on American (or any other) politics:
- He is a black man. It is, I think unquestionably, a great thing for America to have come far enough out of the days of slavery and the civil rights movement to have elected a black man to be their leader. Regardless of any policy that he has, the brute fact of his colour and origins will change attitudes and behaviours within the US and, to some extent, around the world. He is already an aspirational role model to millions. If this helps to move the US towards becoming a more just society, then that is kingdom building of a high order.
- He is not a dispensationalist. This gives me great reason to hope that his foreign policy, especially with regards to the Middle East, will be significantly fairer and more effective than his predecessor.
- He is an orator. When he speaks, he sounds like a President. He has an extraordinary gift for making followers. This gives him exceptional potential to influence people both in the US and around the world. It remains to be seen how he will use this gift when the realities of government sink in.
- He is a statesman. Usually this accolade is attributed to politicians and leaders of long-standing reputation. But I think it may fairly be applied to Obama already, simply because of the extraordinary international reputation he has already achieved. In electing President Obama, America has repositioned itself on the international stage and looks poised to take leadership in a way that Bush never quite managed. He may (and almost certainly will) fail to live up to all the hype and yet, there is that quality about him which engenders trust. From the start he will be beset by global crises of all kinds in which he will be expected to take the lead. It remains to be seen if he is the right man for this moment, but the trust which he has already gained will go a long way towards helping him in this.
- Certainly there are those who are wrongly putting their trust in Obama to be their saviour, who are making him an idol. It will surely not be long before their bubbles are burst.
- Certainly he will, like any politician, have to make compromises which will disappoint some and please others.
- Certainly he is a fallible, sinful man, like the rest of us. He will make mistakes. Some he will recognise and some he will be blind to.
- Very certainly, he will need the prayers of his people as he takes on the great burdens of state.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Not me, obviously, because I’m not American. But I do think that there is an interesting dilemma posed for some by Sarah Palin’s nomination as Republican vice-presidential candidate.
If you think Sarah Palin is a candidate who best represents your views and would do a good job, it is possible you may also think that Sarah Palin’s family is one that is likely to need a lot of hands-on parenting in the coming years.* Clearly not everyone agrees with either or both of these propositions, but I’m pretty sure there are quite a lot of people who agree with both. And if you do, then you have a dilemma. Do you vote according to what will be best for the country, or according to what will be best for the candidate?
I’m pretty certain that if you’re an employer (at least in the UK, don’t know about the US), you’re not allowed to make decisions about who to employ on the basis of their personal circumstances. But if you’re someone’s friend, or even more so, their pastor, then it is appropriate for you to caution them about taking a job which may be to the detriment of their family.
So if you’re a voter, are you an employer or a pastor? Do you decide for the corporation (country) or the children?
*I don’t think one has to get into a discussion of causality or blame to think this. As things stand, Sarah has five children, including a baby with special needs, a teenage daughter who is pregnant, and two other girls still at home. I’d say that those children don’t just need a few hours of ‘quality time’ here and there, they need parents who are a significant part of their everyday lives. And although it’s rather sweet seeing the pictures of Trig being carried around at the moment, that’s not going to work in a year or two when he’s starting to crawl and walk.