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    Obamarama 2008: Final Analysis and Response

    February 22, 2008 by Brandy Vencel


    Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves intocomplete dependence on a tyrant
    has made our generation understand that
    to choose one’s government is not necessarily to secure freedom.
    F.A. Hayek

    So I spent this week drowning myself in Obama research. I am embarrassed to say that I have never researched a candidate to this degree before. I have always relied on others to do so for me. And after this experience, I inclined to do much more independent research, but concerning candidates I would actually consider voting for.

    Of course, Obama now has such a cult following that I don’t consider this process to be a complete waste of time, though I must say that I discovered no surprises. My original predictions stand {antifamily, Fabian, socialist, etc.}, but they are no longer knee-jerk reactions, intuitive in nature.

    I am now able to speak intelligently to someone who supports Obama.

    What Obama has going for him is charisma, coupled with the fact that Hillary Clinton is completely unlikeable. I have to admit that there is a part of me that thinks that if a socialist must be President, I would much rather listen to Obama’s voice for four years than Clinton’s!

    Obama has, as most of you know, been accused of plagiarism in recent days. All of those dazzling speeches full of vapid rhetoric apparently belong to someone else. Clinton seems to believe that Obama’s recent speech was very similar to one given by Deval Patrick. But farther back than that, John Edward’s wife was remarking on the similarities between what Edwards was saying 2004 and what Obama is saying now.

    Well, if Obama sounds like Edwards, it’s because they have had the same speech writer.

    Okay. So why am I getting into this? Why is it important?

    I only want to point out that we shouldn’t believe what we hear. We shouldn’t sit there, soaking up a speech the way groupies soak up a famous band’s Top-40 song. It’s just not wise.

    The best way to find out how a politician will rule in the future is to see how they have already ruled.

    So check voting records.

    As a secondary source, check position papers. Even though these papers, like speeches, are not written by the candidates themselves, they should be revealing where a candidate actually stands on the issues.

    This election is looking more and more like Baskin Robbins to me. You know. Choose your socialist flavor. And really, they aren’t all that different. Especially the two Democratic nominees. Those primaries are all about personality, likeability, and Balkanizing issues like man v. woman and black v. white.

    Don’t believe me? Well, in my defense, I just spent all morning doing my own comparative analysis of the 2005-present voting records of both of the junior senators. Clinton and Obama aren’t all that different.

    At all.

    I used the VoteSmart system, which means I had to print out the records and manually compare them, as well as making sure I crossed out duplicate entries {a bill might appear, for instance, in both a budget category and an immigration category}. I’m going to report my numbers, as long as you have grace for the fact that this was done by a real person {me} and not a machine. Meaning my numbers could be slightly off.

    Okay. So I found that there were 258 votes cast from 2005-present. In only 27 instances were the votes of Clinton and Obama different. This means they vary only 10.5% of the time. Now, 10.5% might seem a bit high to some of you, so let me clarify.

    I said the votes differ. This includes all the times when one of them showed up and voted and the other didn’t show, or at least didn’t vote.

    So, allow me to tinker with the numbers a bit to make a point. There were only eight times that one voted yes and the other voted no. So this means that they only both voted in 239 instances. Of these 239 instances, they differ 3.3% of the time.

    Which brings me back to my point that this Clinton/Obama voting drama is all about the drama. They are not very different at all, except that Obama is slightly more liberal.

    And he also votes less. But I digress.

    The Christian’s Response

    We all know that Christians suffer when there are dictatorships, totalitarian regimes, socialist/communist governments, and the like. The less freedom there is, the less likely that anyone is free, including the Christian. Moreover, all of these forms of government are based upon conformity.

    And Christians have never been that good at conforming to this world.

    Well, the Bible, having all the answers, has an answer for this one, too:

    First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
    {I Timothy 2:1-2}

    We pray that the candidates allow the LORD to be their God. We pray for ourselves, that they will not interfere with our desire to lead godly, peaceful lives. We vote, yes. But voting doesn’t change the nation. It is important, and it matters, and God has granted us a participatory government, but it doesn’t change the nation.

    Change comes from the inside out, from the smallest places to the bigger. It begins in my family, in my neighborhood, and so on.

    It begins, most importantly, in the heart devoted not to pluralism, or tolerance, or any other cool catchphrase of the day, but to Christ the Lord.

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    7 Comments

  • Reply Brandy March 7, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    Hi Nate!

    I don’t know if you are still reading this, but somehow your comment got lost in my In Box. Sorry about that.

    Anyhow, I wanted to thank you for the book suggestions. I must admit that, though I have a way of personally engaging politics with my faith, I haven’t actually read on the subject and tried to develop and firm theology for such things. And books are a great way to begin thinking. So thank you.

    Footnotes are always welcome here. Sometimes, they are not the end of great thoughts, but the beginning of new ones.

  • Reply Nate February 28, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Wow! I’m both impressed with your research and ashamed not to have done more myself.

    One question that arises in the midst of your discussion is, How should Christians think biblically and sensibly about the relationship between faith and politics? This question (I know, it’s woefully underspecified) is particularly important in light of recent books like Sam Harris’ _Letter to a Christian Nation_. For anyone interested in a first-rate discussion of this topic from competing Christian perspectives, I recommend Robert Audi & Nicholas Wolterstorff, _Religion in the Public Square_ (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997). Audi & Wolterstorff are both Christian philosophers, but they differ on the extent to which (and manner in which) faith and politics should interact.

    Anyway, sorry to provide a footnote, but at least it’ll go at the bottom of the posting section. =)

  • Reply Rahime February 24, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I’ve never heard of Duncan Hunter, but I haven’t been following the candidates closely at all. I’ll have to look in to him. I don’t think that Paul is necessarily the most “conservative” by the standards…issues…used today to (albeit ambiguously) define the term.

    I have to agree though, voting records are a much better way of seeing what a candidate believes than listening to campaign speeches….and I doubt there’s much difference between Clinton, Obama and McCain.

  • Reply Brandy February 23, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Rahime,

    Yes, I think that a lot of “intuition” in this world comes from being able to recognize small signs and little phrases that, perhaps 98% of the time, signify something important. For instance, when I hear politicians talk about “the nation’s children” (or the village required to raise them), I know they likely do not have a full Biblical view of family, nor do they recognize the parents as the final authorities over those children.

    Perhaps good intuition is being able to recognize patterns.

    Anyhow, I know what you mean about cynicism. I didn’t even go into John McCain’s voting record, mostly because I didn’t have the time and he was, to some extent, an ancillary issue. But I am curious if he really varies much from Clinton and Obama. Especially if we threw out the war.

    Republicans, unfortunately, seem to be throwing out the Constitution and deciding that being pro-war is the new way to define being a “conservative.”

    I plan to look up Ron Paul’s voting record some time. Interestingly enough, in the same survey that determined that Obama was the “most liberal” member of the Senate from 2005-2007 (based on voting records), Duncan Hunter (not Ron Paul) was rated “most conservative.” I am actually a fan of Duncan Hunter and was disappointed that his campaign didn’t take off better. I think he does better in person and on television than Paul, which might make him more electable. However, I was curious how “conservative” was defined. Was Hunter only more conservative because he favored the war? Or was Paul “liberal” because he voted against something, like the marriage amendment, but it was because that is actually a states’ rights issue and not because he is pro-homosexual?

    The issues are getting so muddled because now both sides want to tinker with the Constitution to get their way, and I’m not sure that is the way it was intended to be.

    Ack. I’m getting off on a tangent. I, too, am fighting the cynicism, Rahime!

  • Reply Rahime February 23, 2008 at 7:49 am

    Brandy, I have appreciated this series and all the research and work you put into it. Isn’t it great to watch “the facts” back up what you know.

    I was thinking about what you said: “My original predictions stand (antifamily, Fabian, socialist, etc.), but they are no longer knee-jerk reactions, intuitive in nature.” Do you think that the reason you have these initial intuitive reactions might be that your mind has learned to recognize a certain type of rhetoric (in this case anti-family, Fabian, socialist, etc.) as it would a reflex…not needing to really “process” it before recognizing it? You hear him say “Blah, blah, blah…” in the 45 second blip that the tv news reports, and don’t need to hear the whole speech or check the voting record to know whats there. “I am now able to speak intelligently to someone who supports Obama.” This, I think is the real value of researching such a candidate (one you know you won’t vote for) to this extent, and it’s hugely important because if you want to converse with a person who disagrees with you evidence to support your stance comes in handy.

    Honestly, I haven’t paid much attention to this election. Partly because I’m cynical, and partly because it scares me….I can see where we seem to be headed (I completely agree with your analysis btw), there’s nothing I can do about it, and it’s not a good place. So much of the Democratic primary seems to be based on race/gender issues…this seems to me like a huge move backwards for our country. On the Republican side Ron Paul is probably the first politician I’ve heard speak who actually sounds like he understands the Constitution and the principles that our country was founded on. He’s the one I’d like to see a voting record for, but he can’t win so why bother? (there’s the cynical side)

  • Reply Brandy February 23, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Lydia,

    I think my favorite part about what you said was, Evil is evil no matter how you spin it. This is so true, and yet it is so easy to be deceived in a world where folks can go to college and major in spin, where being able to manipulate crowds is considered a job someone will pay you for! All the more reason to be on our guard.

    The days are evil, as the Bible says. But our God is still good and our faith is still real.

    May the Lord bless you with a peaceful weekend, friend.

  • Reply Lydia February 23, 2008 at 3:22 am

    What a wonderful conclusion to your series. I couldn’t have come close to saying it as well.

    Thank you for your tireless, diligent research into this candidate’s true beliefs and voting track record.

    You know it really gets me how anti-Hillary some people are in conservative circles but they don’t consider that the alternative (Obama) may be every bit as bad or worse. Sometimes I seriously feel like emphatically saying, “Folks, it’s not about the party you vote for. It is about the individual person and what he believes and how he acts on the issues. Supporting the ‘lesser of two evils’ will not cut it. Evil is evil no matter how you spin it. Your favored GOP candidate may not be much better.”

    Again, thanks you for such an insightful, thought-provoking and intelligent post that speaks to the heart behind the votes people cast.

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