Wednesday, October 29, 2008

People Going Nuts Over This Election

People are really losing perspective over this election. I've gotten urgent emails almost every hour letting me know, under no uncertain terms, that THIS is the most important election ever, that THIS is the critical election of all elections, the THIS election is more important than any other election, yada, yada, yada.

Sometimes I wonder if these folks have ever lived through an election before.

Every election, of course, is critical. Everyone should always vote, that's our American right. Of course, we have the freedom not to vote, too.

Maybe it's because I'm old enough to go back a few years, and remember a few past elections that I don't think this one is any more or less critical than any other election. I mean, it's not as if--if one candidate gets in we get heaven, and if the other gets in we get hell. I mean, with the economic mess, either one is going to be preoccupied for a long time on that.

I wish I could let those fear-mongers in on a little secret I've learned: neither one is going to keep their campaign promises. Neither one really can. Neither one can be a dictator, neither one can act alone. They do seem to believe that on the campaign trail, but we all know our country doesn't work that way.

I decided long ago who to vote for, and I'll bet you did too. So, we have one week to wait, and then, I hope, all these emails will stop, and we can get on with arguments about something other than how critical this election is. Wouldn't that be fun?


  1. This is the my first voting election. Last election is the only one I can remember with a good deal of clarity, and I think I was I bit more jittery then than I am now.

    I've heard lots of people panicking. And when someone starts going on about how the world could be at an end, how the economy will crumble, how we're going to be living under a communist regime, and so forth, I always feel my heart give a little skip and my mind crying out: "Eh? Eh? What?"

    But I'm keeping calm. To panic and be bleak in such a wild way isn't very Chestertonian. Optimism isn't necessary for the Chesterton outlook on life, but faith and hope are. It also happens to be the Christian outlook on life.

    Curiously enough, I was reading the archives on some blogs from back in the days of Bush & Kerry, and there was much of the same thing... The Most Important Election in History, and so forth.

    I voted, and I'm praying. God knows what will happen to the world, but I think He'd like me to be strong for it, not throw up my hands and give up.

  2. I enjoy politics a lot. Cereal.

  3. I remember how four years ago pretty much every celebrity in Hollywood was telling us how THIS was the MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION EVER and the fate of the country rest on the nation making one particular choice. Eight years ago I heard exactly the same thing.

    Eight years ago, George W. Bush ran as the "change" candidate. Sixteen years ago, Bill Clinton promised that he would institute universal health care. The tragedy about our political culture is that it has very limited short-term memory

  4. I couldn't agree more. I always think when the people say "This is the most important election in our lifetimes!"--what about 2004 and 2000? It's kinda sad that we forget about things--like 9/11 and other elections. (like you just post, Chris.) I'm going to be voting for the first time this year, and I know that, sure, this is a very important election--but every election is important.

  5. The upcoming election is the most important, because it's the only one we have control over. The past ones are, well, in the past.

  6. OFL: Not a very Chestertonian position to take up there buddy. ;-) Why is another election less important because it was in the past? Was the election in 1933 in Germany not important? Less important or more important than our upcoming election?

    Being in control over an election (and that is a matter of debate--you have one vote, how in control are you over it?) has nothing to do with its importance or lack thereof.

    And what about learning the lessons of history? Did you read Chris and Mamselle's comments? If we don't understand the past, we just continue to make the same mistakes. And we think that our time, now, is the most important because we don't know anything about any other time.

  7. To say that this election is the most important on a personal level can work. Ideally we would look on every present moment of our lives as the most important: in this moment, I can move closer to God, or not. The saints often talk about this. And in the case of the election and our present time, as Catholics we should say: this is the time in which I live, and this time I should work in; I must serve God here and now (though, as Nancy says, the past is important to us even on a personal, individual level because it teaches us).

    But is this election the most important in the context of history? We can't know that, and God alone knows how the smallest of events lead to the largest of events. Ruth and Naomi, and all that.

  8. This post doesn't seem to have the humor or common sense of Gilbert in it. I can't put my finger on it, it's just not Chestertonian to me.

    There's no excuse for bombarding Nancy with Emails, and those should cease. So should any thought of dispair - for Our Lord is the Lord of History. In the End we know who will win - and there will certainly be suffering along the way, personal, and communal - of many different sorts.

    But as a patriot, I find it disconcerting to hear such talk of the unimportance of this battle. It sounds like you're saying since all battles make similar claims, this one cannot be important at all. OR any more or less important. I would counter that this **is** the most important elections in our lifetimes so far, if for the only reason that it's NOW. We cannot fight past or future battles, but we can fight ones now.

    Perhaps from where you sit, you just see national elections and maybe local ones where the usual suspects lie and spin and influence. I find that distasteful, but where it a real battle I'd find the blood and the gore at the end of my sabre equally distasteful.

    And there are some states, some municipalities where the safety of our children are at stake, where the sanctity of marriage is under attack, where sin is becoming mandated by the state. Maybe that battle line is not where you are (yet), but it is where I am. And *that* is what's making this election even more important - to me.

    Just like between different religions, it's not the similarities between elections which defines them, it's the differences.

    My R/X? Take a pint of Ale and repeat as necessary for the coming week. Taking breaks only for sleep and the Rosary - that God's will be done (not ours).


  9. Tzard, not in the least! For my part, anyway, I would never say that this election isn't important. I think it's incredibly important. The lives of millions of innocents are at stake. If that isn't important, I don't know what is.

    My objection is to the hysteria that this is THE most important election of all time, and that we're doomed if the wrong candidate wins.

    Christianity isn't complacent. I've always hated the attitude that we just sort of sit back and let God do the work, because He's in control. He definitely is in control, but I'm a firm believer in not sitting back, but in stepping up and fighting for Him.

    I quite agree with what you've said. The Chestertonian attitude is most assuredly not to sit back and not concern ourselves with what's going on. This election is important, and I acknowledge that, and have been doing a great amount of praying and campaigning.

    The point is, though, that the Chestertonian attitude is also one of hope. It's going to be tough if things don't turn out well with the election, but we're not doomed. We're never doomed. As you say, in the end He'll win. That means we keep fighting for Him.

    In short, yes, by all means and absolutely fight now... but don't stop and despair if the election doesn't work out the way we hope. Keep hoping, and keep fighting.

  10. Thank you, Mamselle Duroc and Tzard, for writing my response for me.


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