Spiritually Speaking: No middle when it comes to American politics – News – Sharon Advocate

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I don’t know what they have to say, It makes no difference anyway, Whatever it is, I’m against it, No matter what it is or who commenced it, I’m against it!” — Groucho Marx, 1932

 

At least it’s predictable, as dependable as the cold in our New England winter and a late sunrise at January dawn, and the truth that if you order a regular coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts it will contain one cream and two sugars.

Hold almost any vote in the Congress these days, and all the Democrats will vote one way and all the Republicans will vote the other way. Yes, very, very rarely one or two brave souls might cross the line and vote against his or her party but, the rest of the time? The folks we have elected are forever united in their opposition to the other party.

If they are for it, I’m against it!

Both sides are guilty of hyper-partisanship. Examples: the Affordable Care Act passed the Congress in 2010 will 100 percent Democrat support and zero percent Republican support. The effort to partially repeal the ACA in the Senate in 2017 resulted in every Democrat voting no, every Republican “yes”. Impeachment? Voting for the first article were 230 Democrats and one Independent, and against, 197 Republicans, joined by two Democrats. On article two: 228 for, 198 against, again, right down the partisan line. Oh: one rep did vote “present.” Good to know she knew where she was.

The long list of these straight up-or-down party votes has gotten much longer and continues to be the norm in Washington. Even before a vote is taken, even if healthy debate happens, even though in past times some folks would have voted their conscience and against partisanship — in 2020? Not a chance.

In the Congress and America — we are more sharply divided by party, partisanship, ideology, and politics than we have ever been, at least for more than a generation, and at the state level too. Only Minnesota has a split legislature — every other state is either all Republican majority or all Democratic majority, a first, not seen for 106 years.

“Your proposition may be good, But let’s have one thing understood: Whatever it is, I’m against it. And even when you’ve changed it or condensed it, I’m against it.”

So, really, seriously … is one party absolutely right and the other party absolutely wrong, all the time? Does one party have all the good answers and one party have all the bad answers? Will the Dems absolutely save us and GOP’ers certainly doom us? Should the Donkey party be forever kicked out and the Elephant trumpeted as best for our nation?

We as citizens should be mighty worried about this take-no-prisoners politics and how it damages us as a people, as a nation, a country. When will we demand that our elected officials, no matter what their ideology — do what is right — not for party, but for country? Work, not just for election or perpetual re-election, but for the common good? To not just march in lock step with like-minded members of your chummy little politics club, but instead to vote with courage and conscience, and even standing with your opponent?

“For months before my son was born, I used to yell from night till morn, ‘Whatever it is, I’m against it.’ And I’ve been yelling since I first commenced it, I’m against it.”

Here’s where I’m supposed to assign blame for our gridlocked government. It’s the Democrats’ fault! It’s the Republicans! My bipartisan opinion is this: a pox on both houses. It is our fault too, as citizens and voters. As long as we close our ears and hearts to listening to a neighbor who voted differently than us, nothing will change. As long as we nominate and elect candidates at the extreme edges of the ideological spectrum and dismiss candidates and voters who live in the middle, politically, like me, like most Americans, wars will only intensify. As long as our two parties and voters punish politicians who dare to work across the aisle, nothing will change.

Building diversity with unity is very hard work. I’ve pastored for more than 30 years and tried to create community out of very disparate folks: liberals and conservatives, convicted believers and unsure seekers, but it can be realized. With humility. With respect. With care.

Anybody can say and vote: “I’m against it!” But who will have the guts and the vision to vote and say, “I’m for it!” and then reach across the fence and the aisle and do the work of civic and civil life?

I’d vote for that person.

 

The Rev. John F. Hudson is senior pastor of the Pilgrim Church, United Church of Christ, in Sherborn (pilgrimsherborn.org). If you have a word or idea you’d like defined in a future column or have comments, please send them to pastorjohn@pilgrimsherborn.org or in care of the Dover-Sherborn Press (Dover-Sherborn@wickedlocal.com).