Sunday, February 26, 2006

God's Politics

I've picked up Jim Wallis' book God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. It's been a while since I had started it, so I restarted (as I'm prone to do). There's so much good stuff in this book, for example, I am always amazed at the debate about poverty, with one side citing the need for changes in personal behaviors and the other for better social programs, as if the two were mutually exclusive. Obviously, both personal and social responsibility are necessary for overcoming poverty. When this absurd bifurcation is offered by ideological partisans on either side, I am quickly convinced that both sides must never have lived or worked anywhere near poverty or poor people.

This book quickly moves to the point of explaining where I come from in my political views. It gets very old listening to conservatives ignore the Bible in their attempt to present an argument for voting for Republicans while liberals ignore the Bible because they are scared to death of religion and God. A very good summary can be found in Wallis' interview with the liberal mag Mother Jones. The interview reminded me of my own take on the election. I desperately wanted the Democrats to put forth a presidential candidate that I could vote for, and they did, but then they relegated him to vice-presidential candidate, and they lost my vote.

Therein lies a huge problem with two party politics. The left nominates a person who's too far left and the right nominates a person who's too far right. Kerry may not have been the worst candidate the Dems could have picked, but he was completely incapable of pulling in moderates and therefore incapable of winning the election. John Edwards was so far ahead of the rest of the Democratic field that he was "put on the shelf" (as Wallis puts it in the interview). Edwards got it. The rest of the party didn't.

It's understandable that Republicans would be uncomfortable with Wallis' book and interviews. He basically gives the Democrats the keys to the White House, if they will take them. Of course, the Republicans could do exactly the same thing, and keep the keys. The problem is that they don't want to. The old formula worked, so why change it? I'll tell you why they should change it. The Democrats probably will change their formula, and then the old Republican formula won't work anymore.