This is one of the few editorial cartoons that I've actually enjoyed recently...
For those of you who don't know, the guy in the upper left is current Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. The guy in the lower right is former Illinois governor (and recent felon) George Ryan.
These days, the habit of labelling has become so predominant in the media, you can't really discuss politics until you've effectively labelled every element involed - "conservative", "liberal", "fundamentalist", etc. As if the label somehow encompasses the entirety of the ideology or person being discussed. Recent politics in the state of Illinois has reminded me that labels aren't all they're cracked up to be. Consider the above editorial morphing a very liberal Democrat into an old-school, fat-cat Republican.
It reminds me of the joke that's been floating around - that the courts have finished with George Ryan's trial just in time to start Rod Blagojevich's (who, incidentally, has already spent some $700,000 in attorney's fees from his campaign fund to deal with investigations into his office's hiring practices).
Too often, we're quick to take a label, assign one particular viewpoint to it, and create a mental effigy of what that label means to us, and then apply it with a blanket equality to whomever we think fits that bill. Lately, I've been reminding myself that although my views may be deemed largely "conservative" that hardly makes me a dyed-in-the-wool, party-line-voting Republican. To tell the truth, I'm no more fond of the Republican candidate for this fall's election for governor than I am the Democratic candidate. Ultimately, I consider the character of the candidate central to my voting interests. The latest governor has shown me exactly why.
One example has occurred in the midst of clear ethics violations that Governor Blagojevich has committed (and simply refuses to comment on). That is, in spite his behavior, he has required all state employees (of which I am one) to take an annual "ethics exam" so we know what the State of Illinois considers to be right and wrong. If we refuse to take it, we do so upon pain of dismissal.
Another example occured in 2004 when a member of my church attended the Utica memorial service (Utica is a small town in Illinois struck by a devastating tornado). He related to us later that at the service, Governor Blagojevich gave a speech likening the hardships of the people of Utica to the sufferings of the Bible character, Job. While this is not an uncommon analogy, Governor Blagojevich added a new twist to the story - he related how God caused Job's sufferings. Our church member waited patiently to greet the Governor afterwards and as he shook Blagojevich's hand, he took the opportunity to correct him. He pointed out that in the book of Job, it's quite clear that Satan caused Job's sufferings - not God. Unfazed by his theological faux pas, the Governor looked at him, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Whatever." Of course my friend was flabbergasted - God, Satan... same difference? But really, why wouldn't Governor Blagojevich care, unless, of course, he didn't believe any of it was true in the first place? Personally, I take no offense at a heathen revealing his ignorance of the Bible, but I do take offense when he presumes to be Christian by preaching it.
We had a sermon this Sunday by the only evangelical lobbyist in Springfield - Rev. Bob VandenBosch. He made an interesting point - of the 177 General Assembly members , only 10 would admit publicly that they are Christian. His point was that Christians can't play the "religion and politics don't mix" card and say that they shouldn't get involved. I'm not going to expound upon the argument, only to say that I agree with him. But as I listened to it, in my head, I started reciting all the arguments non-believers throw at Christians who are in politics. Most of them boil down to a conspiracy to "install some sort of Christian theocracy", as if requiring adherence to any sort of clearly-defined moral code demands unmitigated worship and adoration of the God who created it.
Our Founding Fathers set up America as a Republic - not a Democracy. In fact, they (Washington, Adams, Jefferson) characterized Democracy as "Very bad government" and "lunacy". We're a government that operates on the basis of a law - not the whimsy of the governed. While the people have a voice (and a considerable one at that), it is not the absolute voice. That means everyone, from the Supreme Court judge to the state governor, is required to respect the law and this demands some sort of moral rigidity in the life of the U.S. citizen.
In the political scene today, morals have made a comeback, but to make the idea more P.C., they're called "values" - it's not a matter of what's right or wrong, just what's important to you. "Morals" are reserved for the "right-wing fundamentalists", right? (there I go with the labels again).
But the point is, this nation is toast without morals. We must have a consistent and (largely) unchanging set of rules governing what's right and wrong, not just reflecting what ideas are popular (that's the difference between a Republic and a Democracy). Political candidates who refuse to recognize this (or agree with it but go and do otherwise) are no better than heathens presuming to be Christians in my view. To that end, my vote goes to the moral candidate - Republican, Democrat, or Independent.