I have asked several friends to contribute articles for Kingdom in the Midst in support of their preferred candidate for president. Today a new friend, Keysha Hogan of Dallas, Texas, has written in support of President Barack Obama. I appreciate her thoughtful reasoning. She will attempt to interact in the comments, but holds a full-time job so her opportunities will be limited. Writers in support of Mitt Romney and Gary Johnson are already lined up, and I also hope to find someone who plans to write-in Ron Paul.
Engagement in these posts is welcome but stay on topic. Personal attacks will be deleted without warning or explanation. If civility is to decrease let it decrease somewhere else.
I like my President. As a black woman it’s easy for people to assume that my support of him is an exercise in cultural solidarity. And while I am proud that I was able to help elect the first African-American president, this election is about more than President Obama for me.
As I thought about all the reasons why I cast my vote a certain way, it seems I find myself voting for issues and candidates at the same rate that I vote against them. And in this respect, I think it would be painful for you to listen as I meander from one political hot button issue to another.
First off, before 2008 I volunteered for the Gore/Lieberman and Kerry/Edwards campaigns. My support for the President is more an extension of my beliefs in the values of the Democratic party than it is for the man himself. As the Affordable Care Act, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act and Recovery act passed I was high-fiving my fellow democrats (in secret of course, I live about 20 mins from Former President George Bush!).
But awesomely inclusive legislation aside, I’ve been asked to explain how my faith is represented in my vote. And although I don’t feel comfortable focusing on one issue to the exclusion of all others, when I face any big decision I always take the golden rule into account.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
And as corny as this sounds, everytime I enter the voting booth I take a minute to pray that my vote will be used to uplift someone to a better life.
The idea of renewal and rebirth is central to the themes of my life. I have been fortunate enough to have lived in a big home with both my parents. And I’ve known the myriad of feelings that came with their divorcing and losing our home. I’ve collected church volunteer hours at food pantries, and have faced the uncertainty of where my next meal will come from.
To many I think the word “poor” is an abstract idea to describe the distant faces at the monthly trip to the food kitchen, or the sad children on the late night infomercials. But to me, it was close to being a reality. During this time, we applied for food stamps which was a painful process. My sister was a chronically ill child, so she was afforded some help from the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The weight of watching your life crumble was becoming a burden to carry each day. But it was prayers, friends and government assistance that helped us on our path to a better life.
I am so thankful that there was a social safety net in place to help us through. Matthew 6:21 (NIV), says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This verse is often offered to encourage us to keep our affections on heavenly things instead of worldly things. But for me, its also served as a reminder that I want my treasures here on Earth to accomplish the deeds of my heart. I want my tax money to offer support, comfort, to enliven and to hearten people that are facing bleakness in their lives.
And we know from scripture that the message to help those less fortunate is repeated throughout the Bible: Psalms 140:12, Isaiah 25:4, Proverbs 31:8, and Luke 6:20-21.
Here is one of my favorite passages: “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and the poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” James 2:1-9 (NIV)
By now, I’m sure you’re thinking…”Well we know you’re for the poor and so is Jesus so what does this have to do with your vote??”
Well I voted for an administration that::
– Provided health care coverage to 4 million uninsured kids with the Children’s Health Insurance Plan Reauthorization
– Made it illegal for insurance companies to deny or cancel coverage to people with people with pre-existing conditions
– Doubled Pell grant funding and offered tax cuts for tuition expenses.
– Signed the Recovery Act which allocated $225 million to the Dept. of Justice to promote law enforcement strategies that addresses violence against women
– Revised the American with Disabilities Act to ensure newly designed, built or renovated public facilities were accessible to all
…and the list goes on.
I also believe that when we speak about the others in our society we have a way of excluding groups that don’t relate to our personal experience. Some people don’t speak our language and some don’t hold our values. And although I think more can be done, I like that this administration has enacted thoughtful inclusive policies about issues like immigration reform and using diplomacy as a method of mediation.
And if you think that all this goodwill will be for nothing remember… “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)
Please allow me to thank you for the opportunity to talk a bit about the intersection of my faith and politics, even though I am neither a theologian or political juggernaut. My expectations for my elected officials is often lofty and unattainable, but I try my best to vote on the issues that matter to me.
And as a former voter registrar, I’m giving you a stern look over the internet to encourage you to vote this November (even if it’s for the other guy!).
Keysha Hogan is an aspiring screenwriter who found a spiritual message in the Matrix films. Her life has been spent either in school or church and she enjoyed every minute. Surprisingly, she usually writes sports editorials for DFW’s Blitz Weekly. Feel free to say hello in the Twitterverse @TheKeysha.