I did something unusual for me last week: I gave up on being a part of the traditional Democrat/Republican thing and registered as a Green Party member. (check it out @ http://www. green-rainbow.org/) For most of my professional life I've been mostly an Independent. Sure I have tended to side with the Democrats on social issues, although I've voted Republican from time to time in Ohio and Arizona, too. And my heart truly resonates more with the New Dealer than with the Supply-Siders.
But as a person of faith - and one with a public identity - I've been very careful NOT to confusion my personal politics with my public role as pastor. There was a day in my tradition - back in the good old days of Congregational theocracy - when the clergy regularly preached about who their flock should vote for and why it was a matter of faith to follow their lead. But thankfully those days are long gone. And I have been very circumspect about not putting bumper stickers on my car - or yard signs on my property - that encourages overtly partisan politics.
But today, while I am vigorously opposed to the narrow and often mean-spirited social and economic agenda of the Republicans, I am not all that inclined to want to be labeled a Democrat either. In order to speak about truth and compassion, you see, I don't want to be lumped into either camp. I want - and need - the space to offer a totally upside-down wisdom. So when I had to renew my driver's license and came to the place where it asks, "Do you want to register to vote?" I paused - and prayed - and said to myself: I think the time has come for me to move into a more honest sense of politics even if it seems obscure and idealistic to others. So I signed onto the Green Rainbow Party.
Most of my life I've been solidly pragmatic - I've been schooled in the Alinsky world of utilitarian politics - but even that wisdom has outlived its usefulness. The greed and avarice of both Washington and Wall Street needs to be challenged. The unholy influence the NRA holds over our elected officials strikes me as morally bankrupt. And as much as I support President Obama - and admire his commitment to finding a middle course in most things (as well as his Niebuhrian understanding of what is possible for this moment in time) - my soul needs to step out of the rut and say: we can do better. We can live into peace and love in new and creative ways that the old parties can't even imagine. We can embrace the values of our faith and push our politicians to make them reality. We can care for Mother Earth and one another much better than we've managed for the past 40 years. And we don't have to sell our souls to the NRA or the highest bidder any more. The time has come to start caring for people and the environment in new and creative ways - not out of fear - but out of respect, kindness and truth.
So, for me it is good-bye to the Democrats and fare thee well to the Republicans: I'm Bernie Sanders and Bill Moyers bound.
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