Stay safe out there, East Coasters! My God, the weather can humble us all. Perhaps my favorite news item of the day is Chris Christie praising Obama for his handling of Super Storm Sandy, a reminder that leadership matters for both men, and when the chips are down, taking care of people matters more than taking sides.
Recently, an Iowa minister made the news for writing an anti-gay letter to his small town newspaper, suggesting to people who they should vote for. The controversy in this case is that the church where the Pastor serves is a polling place in the small town of Dunkerton, and now people are not certain this is an appropriate polling place.
This isn't the first I've heard about something like this. A friend of mine in Texas stopped going to her church because clergy in the church were telling people how to vote based on candidates' views on birth control. My mother-in-law recently stopped attending her church based on a similar maneuver on the part of her minister censuring gay marriage in their local paper.
It would be incredibly naive of me to suggest that the church has always stayed out of politics, but it's been a long time some clergy have pushed their congregations toward certain agendas. I think that might technically violate some non profit status or something. Equally cringe-worthy this campaign are the employers who suggest to their employees that there "might have to be some changes around here" if one candidate wins. I've not seen a pro-Obama memo on the part of the employers yet, by the way.
While free speech is something we respect in this country, we're not terribly wild about coercion. And we're not into the idea of telling people how to vote. Both of these trends tend to smell like yesterday's cod. Which parties seem to be benefiting from these corrupt tactics, or are trying to? Could I suggest that this might be conservative bullying?
There's another facet of this. While the above tactics suggest to people that they must be careful to protect their own interests and beliefs, another tampering tactic seems to be this idea of prohibiting voters by vote monitoring, or the passing out of false information that targets voters you don't want to vote. This is a rarefied technique that can't even try use "good morals" or "self interest" as its justification. The only thing that's going on, pure and simple, is that the parties involved want to stack the cards in their favor as "concerned citizens" who have no official capacity in a process comprised mostly of volunteers.
One of the ideas about our democracy is that people get to vote. The popular vote doesn't always win the day, but people need to vote, and have the chance to sway the electoral votes in their state their way. Anything that meddles with that decision, regardless of how convinced the meddler is that it must be done, is less than American.