5 things to watch as the 2016 campaign gets underway

By Tom Ehrich
Religion News Service

As presidential candidacies multiply and campaigning accelerates, we can expect much tawdriness to occur. These are difficult times in American democracy.

Money will pour into negative campaigning and ideological posturing. Lies will become the norm. Every word will evoke counterattack, and facts will lose their currency. Barbed sound bites will be mistaken for wisdom. Bullies claiming to be “Christian” will be among the loudest. On both sides.

What are people of faith to do?

We can assume, first of all, that truth-telling will be absent all around. We, then, need to be truth-seekers, reading beyond the sound bites and toxic jabs for actual insights into what candidates stand for and what is their character.

We can assume, second, that God’s name will be taken in vain by everyone. Every candidate will tell stories of personal faith, maybe even dramatic conversion. They will quote Scripture and claim to be promoting God’s work.

In fact, to judge by candidates’ behavior, their words will be insincere and their faith a concoction meant to satisfy the sweet tooth of religious leaders. We, then, need to do our own work of discerning whether they have any functional familiarity with Scripture and any real concern for Christian ethics.

We can assume, third, that people will be heard less and less. As campaign volume ratchets up, the voices of actual citizens will be drowned out by invective. We, then, need to be people who listen to the voices of citizens and do what we can to make them heard more widely. Churches should be listening centers, not dispensers of campaign literature. Preachers who brag about influencing candidates should preen less and listen more.

We can assume, fourth, that efforts will be made to prevent some people from voting, especially people of color. We, then, need to take practical steps to ensure full participation, such as escorting vulnerable citizens to the polls and calling out voter suppression tactics as they occur.

We can assume, fifth, that “Christian” values will be reduced to sexuality, as opposed to anything Jesus actually cared about. Sexuality is the perfect diversion while the wealthy pillage the nation.
We, then, need to remind voters about the Sermon on the Mount, the healing of lepers, the rescue of women targeted by religious bullies, the feeding of all who were hungry, the focus on the “least of these,” the calling out of hypocrites, the welcoming of outcasts, the call to let go of wealth, and Jesus’ words of tolerance and mercy, even to his enemies.

We cannot have one more election when “Christian” becomes a convenient shorthand for bigotry and bullying done in God’s name while bearing no resemblance to anything God values.

I think it is time we stopped being naive about the current state of American democracy: These are ugly times, and the forces of decency in both parties are under assault. An entire movement seeks to cripple the U.S. government, lest people they hate receive any benefits of citizenship.

It is time for all people of faith to be active, not just those whose guiding star is white, male, straight power. We cannot sit back and wait for the bigots to run out of steam.

The future of American democracy depends on combating the tremendous negative energy this campaign is churning up.

Editor’s note: Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the president of Morning Walk Media and publisher of Fresh Day online magazine. His website is Follow Tom on Twitter @tomehrich. His views are his own.


In Support of Rick Snyder

By Muslim Snyder Campaign Volunteer

May and June 012 - 2010 For the first time, Michigan Muslims are active in the upcoming primary elections to be held Tuesday, August 3.  This is a great opportunity to impact the political landscape. Michigan Muslims should not allow their choice of political candidates to be selected by others.  Voting in the primary election assures Michigan Muslims that friendly candidates will appear on the November general election. 

Getting active in the primary election will ensure that Michigan Muslims have a “halal no bacon” candidate pool to select from in the general election in November
Moreover, Michigan Muslims are fortunate on two fronts in the upcoming Primary Elections. 

One, Michigan is an open primary state.  This means that no political party affiliation is required.  Michigan voters may select either Democratic or Republican candidates in the primary election, however, no cross voting is permitted.  In the November 2, 2010 general elections, voters may cross over and vote for any mix of candidates including Democrat, Republican, other party or independent.

The second fortunate situation for Michigan Muslims is there is an ideal gubernatorial candidate that serves Michigan best interests and understands the Muslim community — Rick Synder, “the tough nerd.”

Rick Snyder is ex-Chairman/CEO of Gateway Computers.  He took it from a small company in 1991 (less than 800 employees) to a Fortune 500 (10,000+ employees in 1997). Like most of us, he is a self made person.  Rick grew up in a working class section of Battle Creek in a 900 sq. ft home, but by age 23, he graduated from U-M with 3 degrees (BA, JD and MBA). 

__1200_05 Rick Snyder is the co-founder of Ann Arbor SPARK, a very successful business accelerator, incubator, and networking organization that he wants to use as a model for the State.  Rick Snyder wants to increase incentives for legal immigration, as he believes legal immigrants will boost the economy and create jobs.

Rick does not want to apply a band-aid to Michigan’s problems.  Instead he wants to bring real world business experience to Lansing.  He is the only candidate (both Democrat and Republican) refusing to accept contributions from special interest groups.  No unions, no PACs.

For the upcoming gubernatorial primary election, Michigan Muslims must employ a voting strategy as both Michiganders and Muslims.  Most of us came to Michigan because of its robust economy.  We raised families in Michigan, established roots and laid the foundation for a dynamic Muslim community.  If Michigan’s economy does not thrive then our children will leave Michigan and thus leave behind our mosques and schools. 

Creating more and better jobs is the number one issue for Rick. Michigan needs businesses to start, grow and flourish in order to be a great state again. Rick will make that happen.

Michigan Muslims have a chance on Tuesday, August 3 to decide the political menu.  Voting for the best candidate who happens to be a moderate Republican is the best choice and best strategy.

On the Democratic side, most agree that either candidate will be friendly to the Muslim community.  Unfortunately the polls show any that Democratic candidate loses to any Republican candidate in the general Michigan election on November 2, 2010. Michigan Muslims should be on the winning side and vote for Rick Snyder.

Therefore, should we vote for a friendly Democratic Party nominee, who will likely lose in the November elections, or should they vote for the best moderate Republican candidate who is a job creator?

Vote Rick Synder in the August 3 Primary election.