A voice of moderation

I was raised in a Conservative family tradition.  I remember watching the Watergate scandal as a youngster (The name William Ruckleshouse stuck in my memory) and I remember pulling for Gerry Ford in 1976 (A friend of mine, Bryan Duffy, wrote to Carter and got invited to the Inauguration).  I remember listening to Reagan’s acceptance speech when we were visiting Italy in the middle of the night.  I remember the flush of pride I got when I got my Republican National Committee card in 10th grade despite not being able to vote.  In High School, I was tops in Current affairs and I even considered entering politics when I left school as one of the generation’s “Neo Conservatives.”  My wife and I met after George HW Bush won the 1988 election and we talked non-stop about it.  I celebrated the 1994 retaking of Congress by the Republicans.  I listened intently to Rush Limbaugh in the 1990’s and even wrote a count-down clock to Bill Clinton’s ouster in 1996.  The 2000 election saw us stay up late on election night following the George W Bush-Al Gore race, although by then, I could genuinely see that either candidate would make a good President.  I’ve heard that people generally become MORE conservative as they get older (Ben Franklin was a notable exception) so I’m really bucking the trend by moving toward the middle.
So…what changed?  Along the way to adult hood, I decided to grow up.  Instead of categorizing (and demonizing) people I disagreed with, I started to listen and appreciate them.  Instead of trying to prove I am right, I decided to find out why they felt as they did and suddenly my preconceptions started falling.  Abortion is always wrong, correct?  What about the Church that considers family planning to be abortion?  Higher taxes are always wrong, correct?  What about providing a safety net for families so that a catestrophic illness doesn’t wipe out their finances?  America was built on rugged individualism, correct?  What about community, family, and the common good.  Traditional Values will save America, correct?  What about alienating the part of the country that grew up with different values or who struggle with Biblical values or the Bible as the measuring rod for morality?  Can we not come up with a means of living that doesn’t hurt others?  Someone humorously remarked “Now that I know all of Life’s answers, someone went and changed the questions,”  but I wonder if the converse has wisdom, too: Now that I’ve forgotten my original questions, the answers seem more apparent.
I used to know the answer to the question “How Would Jesus Vote?”  After all, Eccl. 10:2 says that the “heart of the wise man is inclined to the right but that of the fool is inclined to the left.”  God MUST be a Republican, correct?  Well, it really looks like everything must be in balance.  Eccl. also says “to every thing there is a season.”  Perhaps in one season, we need to be active and making changes and in another season we should make relatively small changes.  Perhaps “activists” (on both wings) always believe we should be making changes, while other times we need to make small changes (i.e. Gridlock isn’t always a bad thing.)  Moderation might seem like a “cop out,” like refusing to take sides (and in some ways it really is), but I think it’s ultimately a decision I can live with.  You cannot guarantee I’ll vote one way or the other.  It may make me less predictable, and more dangerous, but a little more real (and a little more fun.)

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