Thursday, December 18, 2008

The inauguration invocation

We interrupt the regularly scheduled "UUdom is a microcosm of society part 2" post for a more timely story- the selection of Rev. Rick Warren for the Presidential inauguration invocation. LGBT community, welcome to politics 101: you got played.

The 1998 movie, Bulworth is about a politician whose political troubles and broken marriage causes a nervous breakdown. This breakdown causes him to start telling the truth. While speaking before an African American church, he is confronted with his failure to follow through on his promises to them, and is accused of lying. "Of course I lied!", he tells them, "What are you going to do- vote Republican?"

Democratic politicians have the freedom to betray their black constituents if they're in a tight situation, because they know that nothing they can do will make African Americans vote Republican. The same goes for any other locked-in constituency; once they can be relied on, they can be betrayed. And, of course, the same is true of Republicans. Fiscal conservatives have been calling Bush everything but a child of God for more than seven years; the response is the same- "What are you going to do, vote Democrat?"

President elect Obama is a cautious man, with an eye to the future. He knows that once he begins real work, the honeymoon will be over. Starting as soon as the next Congressional elections, he's going to need every vote he can get- which means he needs the religious vote, or at least as much of it as he can get. If that upsets the Gay and socially liberal vote, that's unfortunate, but... what are you going to do, vote Republican? Of course you won't. He knows that, and you know that, and all the faxes the Washington Office can send won't change the political reality. You can't even blame Obama for doing it- it's the political reality he has to work with.

Paradoxically, the more important a single issue is to you, the less likely it is that voting that way will change it. As long as the voting public is dominated by single issue or narrow range voters, this will be true. As long as politicians of all stripes know that the voting public will decide based on ninety second news stories and analysis by late night comedians, this will be true. Only when we forsake litmus tests and false party loyalties will change really happen.

7 comments:

ms. kitty said...

As I understand it, the person giving the benediction is a supporter of marriage equality. Do you know more about that?

Joel Monka said...

Yes, the minister giving the benediction is Rev. Joseph Lowery Rev. Warren will open the procedings, Rev, Lowery will close them. I've heard of odd bedfellows, but odd bookends? It will be interesting to see who winds up the more controversial, and who will be asked to tone down what- and whether they will.

ms. kitty said...

I've thought about this a little more and have posted about it too.

ogre said...

Nice symbolism if you think about it. Remember... Obama's sharp....

Past (Warren)
Future (Lowery)

The Eclectic Cleric said...

Here's what I've been posting on my own and other websites -- I’m actually OK with Rick Warren being invited to do the invocation (and am actually somewhat relieved that it is NOT jeremiah Wright), mostly because I believe that Warren is eventually going to see the light and get it right on this issue, just as he has on AIDS in Africa, and seems to be now on the War on Terror and Gitmo, and…well let’s just say that he’s a pretty bright guy, he wants to do right, and he truly BELIEVES in the GOSPEL, and isn’t just mouthing some sort of lame Bible College ideology….

Joel Monka said...

Eclectic, to get to the inauguration, one travels the road to Chicago, not Damascus.

Elz said...

I am trying to be pastoral about this. Obama, after all, is, at the bottom, a middle-aged male struggling to replace his longtime father figure even as he enters into the toughest job in the world at the toughest time in almost a century. He is experimenting. Obviously -- to me, at least -- he is drawn to men of strong beliefs so he can recenter himself in a life of negotiations.

So that's the pastoral part of me. The real part, the part that is hoping Vermont will finally take its next step and close its growing equal rights gap in the next few months, the part that loves people who love members of the same gender -- that part just feels hurt. We were vulnerable, and all his history of vulnerability did not teach him to feel our pain.