Politics, Dialogue and the Plight of the Undecided

I usually avoid politics here except for my recent drudge comment because our culture (both online and offline) seems unwilling to truly enter into dialogue about ideas and so often public discussion is more about hurling invectives between trench lines.

My biggest problem is the feeling that I don’t fit in either camp: Republicans or Democrats; conservatives or liberals. Growing up in East TN, I found my home among the Republicans and enthusiastically joined the College Republicans in the early 80s.

When I left college, I ministered at an Inner City church among the homeless and weakest members of our society. Many of my ideals were challenged.

I am still strongly pro-life, but I’ve tried to understand how that applies across the board: from birth to death (including death penalty, war, childcare, aging care, immigration and more). For me pro-life means being pro-person and trying understand how valuing each person should affect the way I view this world. This makes me feel disconnected from both parties, and yet at times finding points of agreement with either group.

Over the years, I’ve developed friendships with people from all walks of life and political (and/or non-political) persuasions. By practicing Buber’s idea of facing people and really listening, I find myself less willing to entrench myself in certain ideas.

This also makes me listen to competing views and honestly try to think through difficult issues like the Iraq war and other issues. As I listen, wrestle, discuss and even argue at times, I often find myself in that “undecided” black hole because these issues are never as simple as the pundits preach.

The current political landscape is tired and self-serving. So people like me struggle to wonder the value of even voting.