ASK THE INDEPENDENT SINGER/SONGWRITER: who are you supporting for President, and why?

I'll be voting for Barack Obama on November 4th.

I guess I never intended to blog about politics during this election season, but a couple days ago I got an interesting email from one of the readers of this blog. Here's what the person wrote to me:

"I was wondering if you wouldn't mind considering a topic for the blog - one that is timely in this highly political part of the year. Coming from a more conservative and Republican family and circle of friends and acquaintances, I find it refreshing at times to actually be able to say that I know people like you who are not of the same background, yet can connect on different levels, like music and worship practices. Being interested in the election and the lead-up to it, and watching my share of commentary about it, I find myself wondering something: what is it that makes people side with a certain political party? Is there one issue that is the lock-down issue, and others that don't matter, either because we don't know much about how they affect us or that we don't care about how they affect us or others? Is it related to how different segments of the Christian church interpret the Bible on certain social issues? I'm not into judging. I'm just curious. I just can't put myself into others' shoes very easily when it comes to certain beliefs or understandings. So, I guess my question/topic suggestion that I think may be an interesting read for people is 'Why I support so-and-so for whatever political office and how his views and core beliefs line up with my Christian/Lutheran/ELCA beliefs' (or something like that)."

So, I've chosen to respond because I'm learning more and more about the value of me "going public" about certain issues. Because I often play concerts in churches, many people consider me to be a "Christian Rock Artist," and therefore lump me in with Conservative Republican Evangelical America. That's why people are often shocked when they find out stuff about me like:
+ I'm supporting Obama
+ I want gays and lesbians ordained and married in the Church
+ I'm not 100 percent thrilled with Compassion International
Saying stuff like that might not seem radical or outrageous to many folks in the general public, BUT to be a churchy-rock musician and to say this blows the minds of many people in American Christian Culture. Just read the dozens of comments on my blog post about Compassion International, or for an entertaining read, check out what happens in the comments when Christian Rock Star Tyler Burkum posts some positive words about Obama on his blog. Whew!

Thankfully, amidst the flood of miffed Conservatives who email me and comment whenever I go public about these issues, I also hear from a few other people who express agreement, relief, and appreciation...consider this comment to my controversial Compassion International post:

As a homosexual believer, I'd like to thank Dave and JR for their incredible compassion and insight. It's folks like you who help me still have faith, period.

When I hear encouraging feedback like that (and I heard some more similar words just a few days ago at church on Sunday), I realize that it's important for Obama-votin', gay-marryin', hybrid-drivin', Bible-interpretin', church-goin', Jesus-lovin', stay-home-parentin', peace-makin' hippies like me (credit to singer/songwriter Todd Snider for inspiration here) to say what we believe in public.

Regarding the initial question: Why am I voting for Obama? Well, there are many reasons. I agree with him on the issues, mainly. But, like all people of faith (I suspect), we vote for the person who seems to "ring" with us, theologically. It's really hard to explain...but one of my favorite theologians, authors, thinkers, and bloggers Kelly Fryer has done such a nice job summing it up, I'd like to refer you to HER blog for the details.

Aside from the normal great stuff about Obama that everybody knows (he's brilliant, he can communicate clearly, he's inspiring), another thing about him that's good is that he's not John McCain. Allow me to consider some things in the negative, which is certainly allowed when making such a huge decision:
+ McCain is too old to elect President. I'd say the same thing if the Democratic candidate was 72.
+ His choice of Sarah Palin as the VP (although a brilliant PR move) was a credibility train wreck, and it totally ruins his "country first" motto. It was a "campaign first, country last" move if there ever was one. I'll be watching the VP debates tomorrow, and I predict the Palin pick will prove more and more disastrous as the days and weeks go by. We shall see if I am correct.

But of course, I'm not voting for Obama because he's the lesser of two evils. I'm voting for him 'cause I think he's incredible and brilliant. And yes, I must admit, there's a familiar ring to his story, his values, and yes, even his theology. Like Kelly Fryer says in her blog: "Obama...sound(s) more like a Lutheran than most Lutherans I know."


tyler said…
hey johnathan, i too am so tired of people thinking they know what my political views are or should be before they even talk to me because i am a christian. oh by the way, i am not a "christian rockstar" by any stretch of the imagination. i have thought of myself as a lot of things but never that. take care.
steves said…
As a radical, pragmatic, independent, I am always interested in thoughtful and intelligent political discussion.

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