|This summer I watched the Republican and Democratic political conventions and as much of the Reform party's as I could stomach. Everything was carefully staged and everyone stayed on script-all told, it was as stimulating as a glass of lukewarm skim milk, except for the Reform party's split. Yes, the good news is that we saw another barrier broken, when Al Gore selected a Jew, Senator Joseph Lieberman, to be his running mate. Finally, being a Christian is no longer a prerequisiteat least when it comes to the vice-presidential slot. But at the end of the day, we still got George and Dick, and Al and Joe. Four pale males representing the country's two major political parties. Ralph, representing the Green, and Pat and John, the feuding Reforms, are the other pale male presidential candidates.
The truly bizarre news was that Patrick Buchanan, he who gives a whole new meaning to the term "right wing," selected a black woman as his running mate. Leave it to Buchanan to find a "sistah" from another planet-how else to describe a black woman who's been a member of the John Birch Society and never saw a progressive policy she didn't hate. That certainly trumps the Republican "we-are-the-world" convention as a study in diversity using trick mirrors.
But what really troubles me is that in the wake of the Bill & Monica sleazy soap opera, this presidential election comes down to a bunch of men, all save Nader, trying to outdo themselves in claiming who's got the best FAMILY VALUES and the closest personal relationship with GOD. All the references to the importance of God in their lives, themselves as true believers and men of faith and moralitybegan to make my skin crawl.
History is littered with horrific acts committed by people invoking God and faith. And I've seen far too many people in my lifetime do the talk but not the walk, or practice their belief in highly selective ways. And we've all witnessed acts of violence and intolerance justified by people on the basis of their religious beliefs. No, I am not comforted when I hear politicians using their relationship with God as a vote-getting device. Or, for that matter, when religious belief becomes one of the criteria for elective office in a democracy.
Here we are on the eve of a presidential election, and the candidates of the major political parties are all professing to be God-fearing champions of family values. Not one of them is opposed to the death penalty or seems outraged by the fact that one in five children in this, the richest nation on earth, lives in poverty. Not one of them has made eliminating poverty a cornerstone of his agenda. We hear too much talk about tax cuts and too little about the fact that tax cuts are meaningless to most of the working poor, or that our taxes aren't being effectively used to improve the quality of life of all the people or the life of the planet. They talk about personal morality but maintain a deafening silence about the morality of putting profits before public goodas though, for example, this nation has no obligation to provide quality child care for all who need it. The mindless self-gratification that fuels our consumerismever-bigger and more expensive vehicles that guzzle gas and increase pollution, the rush to kill animals for their fur to satisfy fashion, the waste of natural resourcesnone of these issues get addressed.
If we must have a bevy of pale males vying for our votes, let's at least insist that they cut the moral platitudes and show some real balls.
Marcia Ann Gillespie