December 19, 2008
Progressivism, I hardly knew thee. You see several years ago when we were in the middle of the nightmare that was George Bush, people banded together to believe in a better country. A better way to conduct ourselves in the world. Integrity, truth, transparency. Stop blowing up other countries because they are different than we are. Worry about our infrastructure. Worry about our kids and our educational system. The people in control were considered ideologues. They were correctly seen as dividing the country sharply against each other. It was actually part of their plan; to have us so busy sniping at each other that no one would notice when they were looting the country.
So we banded together with the goal of progressing past the politics of personal destruction and fear. We wanted to progress to the point where all people were considering themselves Americans first and not red or blue. We were hopeful that we could progress to the point where the right could get along with the left. Where the republican could get along with the democrat. Where the evangelical could co-exist with the homosexual. Then along came Barack Obama and his message of change and hope and everyone went ga-ga. Some voted for him because of his message resonating deep in their hearts. Some voted for him because they thought he was going to change everything just the way they wanted. Most probably voted for him because he was not Bush, which McCain clearly was. Either way, now elected it seems that Obama can do no right by some who fancy themselves progressive. Yesterday signaled Armageddon as Obama dared to select Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his Inaugural Address.
The outcry has been shrill from the would be-progressives. Let me be clear, I am no fan of Warren. He reneged on an agreement for a simple ten question interview a couple of years back when I wrote some articles about an end-times video game he was involved with. I thought his presidential forum was not particularly balanced and his calling for the assassination of world leaders is not scriptural, despite his protests. That said, the selection of him to provide the invocation is not a sign of the end of days, nor is it a sign of betrayal that the Rachel Maddows of the world would have us believe. I have seen commentary and articles crying about how they thought and Obama election would signal the end of any evangelical voices. They thought that an Obama election would mean that anyone who says the word God must be banished from society. That is not progressive.
It is actually regressive. For years we have rightfully bemoaned the politics of division perpetuated against us by the forces of the neocons. They did not want the progressive voice at the table. They did not want the liberal voice at the table. They did not want the homosexual voice at the table. What was wrong with this belief system? It was exclusionary. We wanted to progress out of that system into one where everyone has a voice. It seems somewhere along the line, would-be-progressives actually had no problem with the politics of personal division; as long as they were in charge of the division. The problem of the past eight years apparently was not that voices were muted and not invited to the table but rather which voices were not allowed. Their solution is not to allow all voices but to change who is not allowed. In their vision of a divided America, the evangelical voice is not allowed at the table. The conservative voice is not allowed at the table. God is not allowed at the table. I cannot think of anything more regressive than continuing the same system of the past eight years but merely changing the groups to be excluded.
Rick Warren is a Pastor who has been asked to give an invocation; relax. If he was chosen to be his head of the Department of Education, I could see the panic. But he is being asked to give a prayer and like him or not, he seems pretty qualified to do that. If he was named Secretary of State, I could understand such vitriol in reaction but to give a prayer? I take it as a sign that maybe Obama will be even better than I had hoped. That maybe he will fulfill some of the original ideals of true progressivism, where everyone is allowed at the table. Where there is no division. Where what is important is what the person brings to the table, regardless of whether they are red or blue. Where even your bitter rival can be your Secretary of State. Where a pastor who did not support you can give your invocation. That’s kinda progressive to me.