“he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.” Luke 3:17
We didn’t even make it to the conventions and the right wing smear machine has rolled back into the campaign. Right on cue, the lunatic swift boat author, Jerome Coursi, has a new attack book and conservative book clubs have made it a best seller. When he doesn’t have a democratic presidential candidate to slander, he spends his time writing books about the conspiracy to form a North American Union and eliminate our government and our currency. The problem is, that much of what he says will be repeated as fact by those looking for reasons to justify voting for McCain.
I’ve seen the effect in our own local newspaper where there are weekly letters to the editor advocating votes for McCain based repeating the same sort of mistaken information about Obama.
So what is a thoughtful voter to do?
How do you sift the chaff from the wheat?
I recommend a site called procon.org.
It is a not-for-profit unbiased site that attempts to compare the candidates positions side be side on key issues.
When you go through the site, you find some very interesting things.
First, there are many more things that both candidates agree on than they have in difference.
Even the differences are not nearly as stark as some may suggest.
Here are a couple of examples.
There was a recent letter to the editor suggesting that all Christians should vote for McCain because he is the only candidate who opposes abortion. When you read his position on the procon site, all he really advocates is that the decision be left to the states. This represents a move away from a pro-choice position he expressed two years ago.
Another letter writer complained that Obama has the most liberal voting record in the senate and then went on to quote a conservative magazine (National Review) to support his claim that liberal policies are bad for the country.
The problem is that it isn’t that simple. The same magazine that rated Obama as the most liberal senator did so with an incomplete set of votes. Because of campaign obligations, Obama came back to Washington to vote only on the most important issues which were generally party line commitments. McCain. on the other hand, missed so many votes that the magazine couldn’t rate him at all. Other sites that use other methods regard Obama as a liberal and McCain as a conservative, but neither as radicals.
We’ve already talked about abortion. What’s more interesting from ProCon is to examine their positions on other traditional liberal/conservative issues like taxes, religion, stem cells, social security, gun control, environment, and NAFTA.
One would think that the liberal candidate would be pro-labor/pro-government and the conservative candidate would be pro-business/anti-government, but it’s not that simple.
Obama doesn’t want to extend the Bush tax cuts to the rich and McCain does. McCain, however, voted against the original bill and as recently as April of this year McCain opposed the plan because there was no balancing reduction in spending.
Neither candidate has expressed a clear position on federal funding of faith-based initiatives.
Obama supports federal funding of Stem Cell research. McCain supported it too in the May 3, 2007 Republican debate but opposed it in a position paper issued on Nov 30, 2007.
Obama opposes privatizing the system. McCain supports it.
Obama supports it, but also supported the recent Supreme Court decision rejecting the DC gun control laws. McCain opposes it.
Both candidates agree on global warming and increased fuel efficiency standards.
Obama opposes it. McCain supports it.
Even the war in Iraq is becoming more nuanced. Obama wants to shift forces from Iraq to Afghanistan based on a timetable. Now the Iraq government is on board too. McCain, on the other hand, finds himself in a strange position of staying until the Iraq’s can defend themselves, but rejecting the Iraqi claim that they are ready to do that.
It is tempting to become cynical about the whole process, but it is also an occasion for prayer. Truth is after all a quality of God. That quality is reflected in all of God’s creation. We are his highest creation and possess a natural hunger for Truth. So though we go through times when it is hard to find, Truth, just like the sun on a cloudy day, is always there and eventually shines through.