Choosing the Chief

Big Moral Issues for the ‘04 Election

I might as well admit it, the words “presidential election” cause me to fantasize about moving to a desert island where all the mind-numbing nonsense that passes for campaigning will be unable to reach me.

Then I remember “Gilligan’s Island ” and that issues of “who’s in charge and how do we do this?” raised their ugly head even there.

Humans live in society, and we need to decide things together—the alternative of a totalitarian regime certainly not being on my list of favorite things. So, let’s grit our teeth and push forward, let’s talk about the upcoming 2004 elections.

All in this together
The most important aspect of an election is that it is a communal event; we are meant to decide as a group what is best for all of us. The hope is that, even though individually we have “blind-spots and favorite causes,” as a group we can expose these to each other. It is in this conversation and decision-making that we can move to places where collaboration and thinking together will give us a larger share of the truth.

It is in this spirit that we asked a politically-savvy group of Busted Halo writers to contribute to coming up with a list of the most important issues for the upcoming campaign. Here is a summary of their input, so we can all start this process of thinking together.

The issues according to Busted Halo

  • Voting for the one who can win, or the one who should lead. “Do you hold your nose and vote for [fill in the blank], or do you insist that character matters and go for the candidate who will doubtlessly lose?”
  • Striking first or diplomacy. How do we respond to the development of policies advocating “pre-emptive military strikes” and favoring “my way-or-the-highway” tactics in relation to the international community?
  • Government snooping or government facilitating. How do we “balance security with personal freedom”? Where does keeping us safe encroach upon our civil rights, and what about the civil rights of non-U.S. citizens?
  • Exploitation or immigration. We want to tighten our borders and at the same time we want inexpensive labor for our fields, our hotels, our comfort. Do we understand “how dependent our economy is on immigrant labor and the need to offer these folks basic dignity”?
  • Freedom of speech or license to abuse. The explosion of communications media raises many questions about internet porn, copyright issues, and about media ownership monopolies. How do we acknowledge our freedom to communicate and create and at the same insist on their responsible use?
  • Money in our pockets or in our communities. The combination of an ailing economy and tax cuts adversely affects the poorest and the weakest. Cuts in education and health-care are rampant, with the resulting lack of funding for schools, meal programs, trauma centers, etc. How do we look carefully at getting the most bang for our buck in terms of where public funds need to be invested?
  • A culture of life or a culture of death. Our policies are inconsistent, seeking to protect life in some instances, recklessly destroying life in others. How do we connect the issues so our positions on abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, cloning, hunger, and war defend, protect and celebrate life in a coherent way, shining a light of higher truth in the face of the devaluation of human life?

The year in talking
During this election year, we want to do our part in promoting conversation, difficult as it may sometimes be. Busted Halo will be presenting essays, forums, and some investigative reports on these issues. We want to brainstorm together ways to get ourselves out from “under the bushel” (Matthew 5:15) and spread around some light. 2004 here we come.