The Mushy Middle series: on politics

I am starting a new series I’ll call The Mushy Middle: (a term I borrowed and used to kick-off this series from [HatTip] Pastor Tim Keller)… a series of posts on politics, church life, culture, theology-discipleship, and ministry

It seems that the mushy middle on the political landscape is being pushed out.  When the Tea Party Express rolled into many states in this last election, a large number of conservatives, mainly Republicans, were suddenly elected into Congress, which may have been unexpected.  People understood the clear intent and purpose of the Tea Party Express and where it wanted to take the country.  Clear intent tends to foster a trust and a common goal; whereas, mushiness tends to foster vagueness and lack of direction.

As I stated in my previous posts on our recent federal elections in Canada, the wishy-washy Liberals were unkindly ushered out the door, and Quebec’s Bloc were completely obliterated off the political landscape.  The two parties that faired best in this last election were the Conservative Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party (NDP). The Conservatives and its leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, are mostly clear on where they stand on the political right-of-center.  The NDP and its leader, Jack Layton, are also clear on where they stand on the political left.  Perhaps, as a result of their stand, the people chose to give the Conservatives  majority government status this time.  Likewise, as a result of the NDPs clear stand on the left, the people (especially in Quebec) also chose to empower the NDP, moving them from an insignificant political party of the left into the status of Official Opposition. The most seats they ever had was just over 40; but this time they surprised Canadians by winning 102 seats!

My point in this post is this.  The mushy middle seems to be in the process of being pushed out.  The public wants a new politics where they know where their elected leaders stand.  They don’t want a wishy-washy attitude.

A star rising: Sen. John McCain for President

Sen. John McCain’s speech tonight at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN took me by surprise, and I’m sure it also took a lot of people by surprise—including many Democrats. Let me first preface this by noting that John McCain is not a rhetoretician (edited). Obama could easily walk circles around McCain using his natural rhetorical skills. Sarah Palin could also take him with her rhetorical abilities and authenticity. But John McCain still came out a star, not with rhetoric but with his heart of humility. Sen. John McCain showed himself to be very gracious, humble and he won me over by the character that clearly shined through.

He was humble. He told his story about how, as a young person, he was initially a selfish person who didn’t love his country. But after he spent some time in his solitary cell in Vietnam, he found his moral compass, learned humility, and learned to love his country. He also revealed his personal story of heroism that we could touch. He encouraged Americans to serve their country first, and not themselves; and he encouraged everyone to serve a cause bigger than one’s self. That was truly inspiring.

McCain’s humility was apparent when he sounded out a prophetic call to his party members that their beloved Republican Party had lost its way, had fallen into corruption and needed to be reformed and changed. His humble admission and confession of his own party’s wrong-doings was an unexpected but authentically humble move. I don’t think any hardcore Democrat could knock that. No way. McCain dished out hard words for Republicans and expected them to take it. It was certainly hard medicine he thought his party members needed to hear, and McCain had the guts to say it. Truly admirable. Reform of the Republican Party is why he wants to go to Washington. He knows his Republican Party needs to change and reform is on the way—so “Way to go John! Go for it!” What touched many hearts, including mine, was the honor and respect he bestowed to Barack Obama. He even gave a gesture of congratulations to his political challenger, Obama, at the Democratic Convention. Classy move. It’s something Obama hasn’t yet done for McCain. McCain also said he wants to cross party lines and reach out to Democrats. He also said he doesn’t care who gets the credit, as long as America is made better. He doesn’t want to hear constant partisan rancor that stops the cause. He has worked with both parties and has a record of reaching out to members of both parties. This is a positive thing and I hope he follows through with it.

We saw the soft side of McCain who brought up the issue of the low-income mothers who struggle to make it through. He says he wants to fight for them. This gives me the feeling that he understands the average person who struggles. Perhaps his hardship of torturous beatings as a prisoner-of-war has given him the sensitivity he needs to be able to make heartfelt connections with those who struggle too. This is something that Republicans need to learn because hardcore Republicans do not naturally come across as compassionate even though social conservatives can be very compassionate people.

I’m sure that some Democrats will be turned on by Sen. McCain’s speech tonight, but there will always be some hardcore diehard Democrats who will back Obama and the Democratic Party’s ideals to their grave. If McCain is to win the Presidency of the United States of America, it will likely have to come from the depth of his character that can pull him ahead of Sen. Obama to win this increasingly exciting political race. He is the rising star that Republicans did not truly expect that would shine as bright as it did for him as tonight.