Why I am a Political Independent

ImageI am a Christian. I am also a Political Independent. Technically, “unaffiliated.” Unlike the overwhelming majority of my friends, my family, and those I Pastor, I do not see my politics as a donkey or an elephant but rather as a lion. Partisan politics is damaging the American quilt. Slowly but surely threads are being taken out and individual parts are being discarded. What was once a melting pot, kaleidoscope and cornucopia of diversity is quickly becoming a nation of two quilts – “ours” and “theirs.”

From my laymen’s mind, all American politics is about one thing and one thing only – pie. Yes, pie. How often have we heard the expression, “as American as apple pie.” Politics is about making, baking, protecting, slicing and distributing pie. It’s amazing and disheartening how much we fight over getting our piece of the American pie. On the Republican Right you have a fight over not sharing the pie and on the Democratic Left great advocacy around making sure groups of people never participate in helping bake the pie. Jim Wallis was correct when he said, “the right gets it wrong and the left just doesn’t get it.” The Right is using the language of faith to hide their real political agenda and the Left is ignoring faith to hide their real political agenda. The Right is wrong for forgetting history. The United States has a long history of people of faith supporting and driving social change and driving progressive causes and movements. This is seen in the abolition of slavery, women’s right, public education, child labor law and civil rights. In other words faith is connected with social change. There is no record of people of faith being disconnected from social movements. Therefore, if your politics is devoid of conversations around poverty and social justice it is a perversion of your professed faith. There is nothing moral or Godly about not wanting to share the pie.

But the Left is no better. They are just wrong for a different reason. The separation of church and state does not mean abandoning morality from public life. To debate the issues around how the pie is sliced without respecting the pluralism of our democracy is ineffective and disingenuous.  Yes, wage laborers, unions, educators, social servants and the unemployed should have a piece of the pie but the pie will never get distributed by mixing in “non-pie” issues. Probably the biggest “non- pie” interests are moral issues. So, while the Left works so hard on the issue of whether you should be able to eat your pie with a person of the same sex or whether you need a drug test before you can eat the pie or for how long you get to eat the pie for free, those they work so hard to advocate for still don’t have any pie. Rather than protecting the pie eating rights of those without drive and determination, legislate that everyone have the ingredients and access to an oven and wish them well on their pie making future. So, while the Right is legislating you don’t get a choice about the pie, the Left is legislating pies with no fillings and that never get put in the oven. Hello, everyone. This is America. We do pies here. We fill them, we bake them and everyone should have a slice.

This says nothing of all the other issues that both parties are inherently dishonest about – race, the poor, the penal system and how life is viewed just to name a few.

When the dust settles, until both the Left and the Right ratchet their way toward each other our nation will remain gridlocked. Since the solution is somewhere in the middle, wouldn’t make sense to just start there if you could? People in the middle can reach in both directions and grab those on the Left and the Right, forming coalitions and linkages that are far more reaching and rational. Our political system is institutionally stagnant. I find it interesting that the same nation that values advances and entrepreneurism has institutionally entrenched itself in a two-party political system. I thought we believed in and supported innovation? Evidently, in regard to everything but our politics. I for one still believe in the American dream, in innovation, and in the pie making opportunities for all people. As an Independent I have benefited by:

Critically thinking through political issues. The issues that face us are very complicated and we must be informed voters and not simply “big lever” voters. Not everyone of our color, race or political party is worthy of our vote.

Allowing my faith to help form my politics. As an Independent my vote is based on principles and beliefs and not party affiliation. Those that want absolute separation of church and state are in the minority. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has done extensive research on this issue and has determined, “people of faith and the institutions they build, play a critical role in our nation, and those contributions are not a purely private matter…”

Not allowing my vote to be paternalized. In other words no one owns or is entitled to my vote. It must be earned. One ray of hope for our nation is that there is an ever-increasing block of independent voters who sometimes vote one way and other times vote another and cannot be taken for granted by either party.

It keeps me more “centered.” We all have a tendency to disregard and discount those who disagree with us. This is how both parties wound up with factions that are now considered “extreme” sects of their own parties (this is also how we got the Tea Party).We now hear terms like “far right” and “far left.” I am learning that by listening to both groups of people it helps keep my personal political philosophy a lot more grounded and neutral. It is a form of self-correction that we all need to remain mindful and aware of the interests of others.

Whether you are Democrat, Republican or Independent, it is my prayer that we can identify those issues which we can agree on and exhibit common sense solutions to benefit the common good for our nation. I for one am reaching in both directions.

What is your political preference and why?


4 thoughts on “Why I am a Political Independent”

  1. Very interesting take on the state of the political system in America. I agree with Pastor Gailliard on many of his point. The sad irony is that many Republicans will not even acknowledge that many whites are eligible, entitled to, and deserve the constitutional rights of social program support. What amazes me is how we as a nation can totally discount the fact that being poor in America is not synonymous to being black only; yet those individuals who reach out for support programs who are not black seem to feel that they have access to the pie that their party is speaking of– but they don’t. The answer is not in placing a Dollar Tree on every ten city blocks and dozens more in every town or commercial market place. Sadly, most of the products in these stores are not made in America; they are made in China. Economically, the truth is rarely told and you will not find it in the political ads television views watch. The church, as a whole, is way too silent about the rare and raw truth that they know because the statistics are quite revealing. The question is? When will American realize that they are shooting themselves in their own feet with their own guns while crying foul play or innocence ruse?

  2. Although I am a registered Democrat, it has become increasingly disheartening that I find myself constantly choosing between the lesser of two evils, for some of the very reasons that you have pointed out. Both parties leave something to be desired and we cannot just blindly follow our political preferences. However, the beautiful thing about this country is that we have the ability to choose. The power of our vote is enormous, particularly on the local and state level where change can occur more readily. Whether Independent, Democrat, or Republican, I pray that more will choose to become actively and consciously engaged in the political process. Thank you for the challenge to seek a more balanced approach and to keep an opened mind.

  3. First of all Pastor Gailliard, I just wanted to offer my condolences for your loss. I actually found this article because I read the story of your son’s death on a blog that I frequent. Although I wish I would have been brought to read your material under better circumstances, I’m glad I’m able to read it now.

    I am a registered unaffiliated voter for a lot of the reasons that you listed above. My political affiliation is based on my guiding principles and I choose to remain unaffiliated because I want to make a statement, along with other unaffiliated voters, that the issues we face are not a matter of democrat or republic and I will vote for whoever is closest to what I believe.

    As someone who’s work crosses into politics a lot, being unaffiliated has open my eyes to a lot of the motives of politicians and community groups which I think is an important aspect to consider when voting. Although, judging someone’s motives is tricky to some it is a necessary quality of a discerning believer.

    Anyway, I’ll start rambling, but Pastor your perspective is important because a lot of people share this same view and being politically vocal as a Pastor is very brave. I commend you. I hope this post finds you in good spirits

    God Bless you

  4. I am not a donkey or any other symbolism of the political process. I am a registered democrat and respect the right of anyone to register as you desire. No one party affiliation has hierarchy over another. I have seen parties use social issues, issues of injustice, gender issues, pro choice or pro life issues, immigration, etc, but rarely do you see candidates dealing with the powerful lobbyists who use money to control candidates as a political issue during an election year.

    The things we close our eyes to, across board, I believe, are the things that create a stink in the Alms we offer up to God. The compassion of Christ is often rhetorically placated in political issues but rarely heart felt in the spirit of political reform. Thus, my question is: How is it any different today than it was in the days of Caesar Augustus, Nero, the horrible Emperor, or the time of evil kings versus Godly men from the days of the old testament.

    So little are we compassionately concerned about the suffering of the people or the Word/Will of God. Today, we can just take a case to the Supreme Court who rules often times from a masculine perspective of human limitations rather than Godly Wisdom. What is important for people to realize is that they simply must participate in the political process and they can do that in three powerful ways: First, register to vote; Second, educate yourself from multiple pipelines of information that is fact based and not from the Horse’s mouth because you are the horse at the polls, and Finally, on election day, take a car load of folk to the polls after having worked the communities canvassing door to door, phone banks, and shelters encouraging others to get involved in the total process.

    People who run for political office are fallible, imperfect beings with some good; we must simply support those with the greatest good principle in mind and not “grease my wagon only” mentality. Christ became discouraged but he never stopped doing the Will of His Father even to the tune of finding a coin in the mouth of a fish to give unto Caesar what is Caesar. I am most bothered by those who actually feel that voting is against the nature of God, but that is another blog subject.

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