28 November 2008

Hello DC

I've been in Washington for a week now, so I thought I should let you know what's going to be happening here at Look Right. Basically, things are going to continue as before, except with (hopefully) more posting. I've been slowed down a bit this year because of school and preparing for the move, but I hope to pick that up a bit again now. I will still attempt to keep you up to date on the happenings in Australia, but the D.C. scene will be added to the mix. I have a few things in the works to post, including some things from my last few months in Sydney that were put on hold. I considered an address change, but decided to keep Look Right as a reminder of where this all began. So if you keep reading, I'll keep writing. More to come.

25 November 2008

Farewell, Australia

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of drought and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!

Dorothea Mackellar (1904)

02 November 2008

Why I'm voting for Barack Obama

I am well aware that most of the frequent readers here are both Republican and Christian, and are likely planning on voting for McCain. But please, before passing over this post, give it a read. I think that my story is different than others you have heard.

As you likely know, I used to be a Republican as well. But over the last four years, my view of America and the world has changed, and so have my political leanings. I alternate between amusement and disgust with the Religious Right component of the Republican Party. Though I am certainly a Christian, these people in no way represent me, nor, in my opinion, do they represent Jesus.

In my understanding of Jesus's teachings, we are called to love one another and to help the sick, the poor and the downtrodden. These are moral issues. The Religious Right, and by extension the Republican Party, have campaigned for years on a platform of morality and family values. However, they have been selective and too narrowly defined morality, limiting it to abortion and gay rights.

I agree that these are moral issues. I, too, am pro-life. And while I oppose gay marriage, I do think that, for example, access to a partner's health insurance should not be denied because of sexuality, whether I am morally opposed to it or not. So in in these issues, there is at least some level of agreement between me and the Religious Right. But what about other moral issues?

Poverty is a moral issue. The economic policies of our country put the poor at a disadvantage and make it difficult to escape what quickly becomes a vicious generational cycle. Our tax policies provide loopholes, havens and exemptions for the wealthy, while millions of Americans live below the poverty line, most of them children. And still the wealthy dare to challenge any suggestion of increasing their tax liability as un-American? Still corporate CEOs expect buyouts from the American people when they are reckless in their business dealings and walk away with millions while the common man worker in his company gets nothing but a pink slip? This is morally wrong, and the Religious Right are silent.

Health care is a moral issue. I have heard that the United States is the only highly developed country without some form of universal health care. People die in America from treatable illness and disease because they cannot afford health insurance. Millions of others with insurance are denied coverage they have paid for for years when they need it most. Basic preventive care alone would resolve many of these issues, but it is currently not available to the American public. This is morally wrong, and the Religious Right are silent.

The environment is a moral issue. We have been ordained by God to be stewards of this planet. And yet we plunder the earth for energy, throwing habitats out of balance with our exhaust and our waste. We have abused our position of God-given authority and made the natural environment our servant rather than serving it as protector. And we have done all this because we are too lazy to realize other sources of clean power that are readily available. This is morally wrong, and the Religious Right are silent.

Human rights are a moral issue. Our government has been holding hundreds of people illegally in Guantanomo Bay for seven years, denied them a speedy and fair trial and has used torture on the authority of the President to extract "confessions" from many of them. You say they are not American citizens? Agreed, but they are humans, and deserve to be treated humanely, even if they are eventually proven guilty. This is morally wrong, and the Religious Right are silent.

I choose to stop the list there.

In 2004, I voted for George W Bush, even though I preferred John Kerry's policies on most issues, most notably education (as a teacher, I witnessed firsthand Bush's failure with No Child Left Behind), health care and the environment. But I was persuaded by fear--fear that Kerry was weak on the issue of national security. I voted on a single issue, despite my misgivings on all others. I will never do that again.

Which is why I mailed my absentee ballot two weeks ago, casting my vote for Barack Obama. Even though I disagree with his stance on abortion, I will no longer deny the other moral issues that are also at stake.

Besides, the abortion issue is a red herring for Republicans anyway. In the thirty-five years since Roe v Wade, we have had a Republican president for twenty-three of them. Not one has so much as mentioned Roe v Wade outside of an election year. This is nothing but a ploy used to bring in conservative voters. To his credit, McCain is not pushing this button like his predecessors have. But the Religious Right is doing it for him to the same effect. And yet on other moral issues, they remain silent, choosing instead to spew hatred and fear of anyone who does not look or sound like them.

The United States is in desperate need of a leader who will address these other moral issues. The world is in desperate need of a United States that is willing to champion morality without exception. Please pray, consider what you believe morality to be, and vote accordingly. God bless.