Sunday 31 August 2008

Conversation with a friend who probably wonders if I'm still a Christian because of my political leanings...

Earlier today I sent out some political commentary about McCain's choice for Vice President to a list of family and friends, which has already generated at least one very concerned response. I responded in turn. I then shared a copy of the exchange with the original list of family and friends, for further enlightenment and reflection, lest others begin to also wonder if I'm still a Christian!


-Clair Hochstetler

"x" I am surprised by your response as I am primarily concerned here about the quality of political leadership, direction and strategy, not which candidate is more "Christian." You send me political stuff "to get me thinking" and I thought I would send you something to "to get you thinking." I don't think our political philosophies will ever mesh, but why does that make you question the integrity of my Christian commitment?

Even though I didn't write the piece I sent you I endorse it and that is why I passed it on. I don't know if it was written by a Christian or not but I certainly think it could have. "x", haven't you met any people before, in your circles - besides me - who have "religious" leanings (Christian in my case) who happen to be political moderates, or who are progressive -- or even "left-wing" politically -- as well as those in your own circle of friends who are right-wing politically?

Maybe you should dip into something like the "God's Politics" blog sometimes - to get better acquainted with other political views that are assessed to be as thoroughly based on Christian principles as yours are: This article, on the "God's Politics" blog airs the option for a third political party in American politics - which I personally think isn't a bad idea!)

Perhaps you take exception to the statement that Palin "believes creationism should be taught in PUBLIC schools?" How is being opposed to that making you question Christian commitment? What if the writer believed it's OK to teach that in parochial/Christian schools if that is what the school board decides to do, but NOT in public schools - which I do. There is no one "Christian" way to think politically on this subject, "x". If you believe in separation of church and state you have to be careful about not only this but a whole range of issues that affect public policy.

In any case, I am concerned, bottom line, in this Presidential/Vice Presidential election about experience for office and principles of governance such as experience and strategy in foreign policy, issues like the best stewardship of the earth's resources, a comprehensive worldview that will make for effectiveness in international diplomacy, etc. Australians are HIGHLY concerned about these sorts of issues here, and are watching this election quite closely.

My daily interactions involve purely secular people as well as lots of dedicated Christian people, including LOTS of Baptists here in Canberra, many of whom take initiative with me to talk about American politics - I don't bring it up on my own - when they find out I'm American. And I must tell you, "x", that (even though I'm sure there must be someone out there who feels otherwise) I have YET to met a single Australian here who thinks that McCain would be the better president in today's world.

Need I say again that God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican?

Don't worry, this interchange won't damage our friendship, I actually hope it strengthens it. I will always be the husband of one of your best friends, so we have no choice!


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, Aug 31, 2008 at 10:48 AM
Subject: Chat with "x"
To: Clair Hochstetler

I gotta tell you Clair, despite your personal political preferences, or anyone else's for that matter, I would never think your email to have come from a Christian. I am quite dumbfounded; irregardless of your opinion of any of the candidates, I cannot line up the stand you take on so many important issues with the Word of God. I will compose an email in response, although I am doubtful that it will be fruitful. One can always hope!!


(As a reference point for both of us, in case we continue this "thread" of conversation, "x", I'm attaching a copy of what I'd sent, to which you were responding above:)

Yesterday was John McCain's 72nd birthday. If elected, he'd be the oldest president ever inaugurated. And after months of slamming Barack Obama for "inexperience," here's who John McCain has chosen to be one heartbeat away from the presidency: a right-wing religious conservative with no foreign policy experience, who until recently was mayor of a town of 9,000 people.


Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic background:

  • She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.1
  • Palin opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest.2
  • She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000. 3
  • Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.4
  • She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.5
  • She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.6
  • How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.7

We asked Alaskans what the rest of us should know about their governor. The response was striking. Here's a sample:

She is really just a mayor from a small town outside Anchorage who has been a governor for only 1.5 years, and has ZERO national and international experience. I shudder to think that she could be the person taking that 3AM call on the White House hotline, and the one who could potentially be charged with leading the US in the volatile international scene that exists today. —Rose M., Fairbanks, AK

She is VERY, VERY conservative, and far from perfect. She's a hunter and fisherwoman, but votes against the environment again and again. She ran on ethics reform, but is currently under investigation for several charges involving hiring and firing of state officials. She has NO experience beyond Alaska. —Christine B., Denali Park, AK

As an Alaskan and a feminist, I am beyond words at this announcement. Palin is not a feminist, and she is not the reformer she claims to be. —Karen L., Anchorage, AK

Alaskans, collectively, are just as stunned as the rest of the nation. She is doing well running our State, but is totally inexperienced on the national level, and very much unequipped to run the nation, if it came to that. She is as far right as one can get, which has already been communicated on the news. In our office of thirty employees (dems, republicans, and nonpartisans), not one person feels she is ready for the V.P. position.—Sherry C., Anchorage, AK

She's doesn't care about protecting our natural resources, even though she has worked as a fisherman. McCain chose her to pick up the Hillary voters, but Palin is no Hillary. —Marina L., Juneau, AK

I think she's far too inexperienced to be in this position. I'm all for a woman in the White House, but not one who hasn't done anything to deserve it. There are far many other women who have worked their way up and have much more experience that would have been better choices. This is a patronizing decision on John McCain's part- and insulting to females everywhere that he would assume he'll get our vote by putting "A Woman" in that position.—Jennifer M., Anchorage, AK

So Governor Palin is a staunch anti-choice religious conservative. But, she's a global warming denier who shares John McCain's commitment to Big Oil. And she's dramatically inexperienced.

In picking Sarah Palin, John McCain has made the religious right very happy. BUT he's made a very dangerous decision for our country.

In the next few days, many Americans will be wondering what McCain's vice-presidential choice means. Please pass this information along to your friends and family.


1. "Sarah Palin," Wikipedia, Accessed August 29, 2008

2. "McCain Selects Anti-Choice Sarah Palin as Running Mate," NARAL Pro-Choice America, August 29, 2008

3. "Sarah Palin, Buchananite," The Nation, August 29, 2008

4. "'Creation science' enters the race," Anchorage Daily News, October 27, 2006

5. "Palin buys climate denial PR spin—ignores science," Huffington Post, August 29, 2008

6. "McCain VP Pick Completes Shift to Bush Energy Policy," Sierra Club, August 29, 2008

"Choice of Palin Promises Failed Energy Policies of the Past," League of Conservation Voters, August 29, 2008

"Protecting polar bears gets in way of drilling for oil, says governor," The Times of London, May 23, 2008

7 "McCain met Palin once before yesterday," MSNBC, August 29, 2008

Oh. My. Goodness!

Check out the comment below, to continue on this topic...

1 comment:

  1. The author of the following, Phyllis Bixler, is an articulate and astute observer of American culture, a retired university professor, and a Christian - somebody I have really appreciated having as a friend. She shared this with another list I'm on.


    The following is a letter I sent to our local newspaper Sunday evening. Feel free to use part or all of my letter if YOU signed it. But do sign your own name. If you feel dishonest doing so, you can begin with something like, "as a friend of mine has written..." Better yet, write your own letter in your own words!

    I got my statistics from official sites (e.g. census sites) online. But if anyone spots any errors, I'd welcome knowing them as well as the source you've used.


    My Letter:

    Given global political problems from the Middle East to Russia to China and beyond, to say nothing of economic problems at home, I am frightened to think that United States leadership might be placed in the hands of someone whose political experience is six years as mayor of a town with a population of under 10,000 and two years as governor of a having a population of under 700,000 and a 2007 expenditure budget of under $7 million. Someone who in 2007 was asked about our policies in Iraq and said she was too busy
    being governor to give much thought to them.

    People ask, doesn't Senator Barak Obama lack experience just as does
    Governor Sarah Palin?

    There's no comparison. Obama has eight years in the legislature of a state with a population well over 12 times that of Alaska, during which he had enough time to form and voice the then unpopular opinion that the Iraq invasion was ill-advised. During his four years in the United States Senate
    he has provided leadership on a variety of issues, including nuclear proliferation. And during a recent tour he showed he can more than hold his own with leaders from a variety of nations.

    People say that Palin has had more "executive" experience. But doesn't Obama's running one of the most successful political campaigns in recent history count? Organizational skills? By all accounts, the team immediately surrounding him has worked together with minimal friction. And his ability to organize his many volunteers proved crucial in his primary
    victories. Budgetary experience? What about managing campaign
    contributions of $390 million as of July 31?

    Finally, there is the matter of judgment.

    In choosing his running mate, Obama said he wanted someone who can provide substantial advice and even disagreement. And he chose someone with strong foreign policy credentials and a long history in the congress with whom a president must cooperate to get things done.

    Some time ago, Senator John McCain said his first criterion for a vice
    president was someone who is immediately ready to fulfill the duties of president. But now, after minimal interviewing, he has chosen someone the Anchorage Daily News (8/31/08) calls "a total beginner on national and international issues." Likely, because he thinks it is politically

    I need a president who is more deliberate in making decisions. Someone who takes a longer view and has a steadier hand at the wheel.

    Phyllis Bixler,
    Springfield, Missouri