A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? (or Crawford, TX?)

There is a verse in the bible that I've been thinking about as it applies to politics. Phillip, a follower of Christ, goes to his friend Nathanael and tells him about Jesus Christ. Nathanael's response is interesting:

"And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see."

What I get from this is that Nathanael has some preconceived notions about Nazareth, because it's a po-dunk town. He's thinking to himself: nothing good can come from there, I know it's all bad. Do we have some of the same views of our political opponents?

The reason I've been thinking about this is that I've been, quite frankly, surprised by some of the venomous discourse directed at President Obama. Some of my friends literally cannot find anything about him to like! This seems to show a pre-judging and uncharitable spirit. But then I had a thought: maybe I'm the same way about President George W. Bush. So, I urge you to take a politician that you disagree with, or think is stupid, or cannot find anything about to like, and look at that person with fresh eyes. Take a walk in their shoes, and you might find more to like than you think. Now, it's no fair to say things like "Congressperson A is less dumb than I thought" or other sarcastic things like that. You have to truly find things to value in this person. I didn't say it would be easy (and for me it wasn't), but I am going to say that it's worth it. I think this is so important in politics, because it is much easier to demonize the other side than to try to understand them.

In that spirit, I've come up with five things to like about George W. Bush, and I'm going to share them with you:
5. Immigration policy: President Bush actually made a lot of sense on immigration policy. He supported temporary guest worker programs and a path to citizenship for those already here.
"We must make our immigration laws more rational, and more humane...I believe we can do so without jeopardizing the livelihoods of American citizens."
"I ask Congress to reform our immigration laws so they reflect our values and benefit our economy. I propose a new temporary-worker program to match willing foreign workers with willing employers when no Americans can be found to fill the job. This reform will be good for our economy, because employers will find needed workers in an honest and orderly system. A temporary-worker program will help protect our homeland, allowing border patrol and law enforcement to focus on true threats to our national security."
4. Not pardoning Scooter Libby. A recent Time Magazine article reveals that Bush was pressured by Vice President Cheney to do so, but he thought Libby deserved punishment for breaking the law. I like what he said when he commuted Libby's jail sentence (which he thought excessive), while allowing the fine and guilty verdict to remain:
"Our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth, and if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable."
Also, I thought Bush's reason for not granting more pardons was interesting, and I agree that pardons do tend to favor the well-connected and the rich:
"Bush had long approached pardons with suspicion. As Texas governor, he granted them sparingly. His reluctance stemmed not from a lack of mercy but from his sense that pardons were a rigged game, tilted in favor of offenders with political connections. 'He thought the whole pardon system was completely corrupt,' says a top Bush adviser."
3. Creating an awesome National Park that I want to visit someday. And if you can say its name five times fast, I salute you.
2. Going to war in Afghanistan. I don't think it's ever easy to order troops into battle, knowing that some of them will die or be wounded. But, taking out the Taliban was (and still is) essential to our national security. It was a repressive and horrible regime, and while the ongoing fight will be difficult and prolonged, it is the right one, because America should be on the side of freedom, women's rights, and progressive values. I'm glad President Bush choose to fight there.
1. And finally, one policy that is truly compassionate: providing billions in funding for AIDS medication to those in poor countries. Saying that the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar, for short) is a good thing would be understating it! This was something President Bush didn't have to do, and he might not have won any votes on it, but it saved countless lives and was a truly good deed. From a NY Times article, a doctor who worked with the program had a good summation.
"Dr. Coutinho said Ugandans were terrified that when Mr. Bush left office, 'the Bush fund,' as they call it, would go with him. "When I’ve traveled in the U.S., I’m amazed at how little people know about what Pepfar stands for,” he said. “Just because it has been done under Bush, it is not something the country should not be proud of.”"

So, just because Bush/Clinton/Obama/Whoever does it, doesn't make it a bad thing. Finding good things in others makes you a better person yourself :)