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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Personal Democracy, Personal Faith - and You

The highlight of the Personal Democracy Forum was supposed to be the final panel. A panel of bigwigs was supposed to teach us what the future of political media would be. Since I am a political (pick your favorite descriptor), I actually had pen and paper ready to take some notes. I should have saved the effort.
The highlight of the panel was Arriana Huffington’s gaff comparing politicians using the internet with “giving children sex” – it’s important but they don’t know what to do with it. The only competing moment came when Jay Rosen told conservative Chuck Defeo that he didn’t care if he had found a better and cheaper way to talk to people. That caused Tucker Eskew to leap to his conservative brethren’s defense saying, “I don’t know that you should care. I don’t even care if you care.” Well, that’s the way to inspire people. Since the room was pretty much full of liberals, that was probably not his goal, anyway.
It was disappointing to me because the room was filled with so many people who have dedicated their lives to reaching out to others. Here was a grand moment lost. It was a moment like what must that moment must have been when someone asked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Do you ever dream about a better America?” It turned out to be a moment like it would have been if Dr. King had said, “Well, yeah. Sure I do.”
In 1980, Ronald Reagan faced two fellow Evangelicals for the Presidency. Reagan was the only one who stopped to speak to the National Association of Evangelicals. He didn’t ask for money and he didn’t ask for votes. Instead, he gave them a mission. “Help me,” he said, “stop abortion. Go back to your churches and urge them to do whatever is necessary. Agreement is not enough. They must act and continue acting until they win.”
Of course, Evangelicals turned out to support Reagan throughout his eight years in office. Why? Because he had given them power and had given them a mission. He had deputized some eight thousand pastors to work as his surrogate in a cause he claimed was more important than anything else facing the nation. “Trust me to take care of the Soviets,” he said, “You just take care of the abortion issue.”
Huffington missed the opportunity to deputize a room full of mostly sympathetic, liberal, internet-savvy people. Rosen missed the opportunity to urge an auditorium full of believers that the media is a hollow shell. No one looked out at the crowd and said, “You are the future of political media in America. You. Each one of you. Now what are you going to do about it?” A great opportunity was lost and Defeo and Eskew won simply by watching a couple of liberals be too sheepish to reach out to a room full of friends.
A few people in the room nodded along with Huffington and Rosen, but I doubt many of them left with a renewed passion for their goals. Perhaps many of them don’t have goals and are just at the top because they happened to be the first with an idea. If so, they won’t remain there long. Because I do have a goal. In the long run, those who focus on the prize always beat out the ones who just get lucky in the beginning.
I started this blog because I want to be part of the future of political media. I want to put forth a Liberal Christian voice in the political fray. My goal is to provide a moral balance for the Religious Right and to expose them as being neither religious nor right. If you read what I write and nod along, then I’m happy you’re here. But if that’s all you do, then I’ve failed.
The Bible teaches us that believing is not enough – even Satan believes and even trembles in fear of the wrath of God. Agreement is not enough. I can make it as easy as possible for you to write your Senator or Representative by providing links to their websites. I can tell you about election day and explain complex policy and scry for morality behind it. But if you don’t do something – if you don’t go vote, if you don’t support independent candidates, if you don’t ACT LIKE YOU CARE – then all we have done is share a bit of time. That isn’t what I want.
I want you – each of you – to take action. Maybe all you can do is send a letter to your Senator. Maybe you can help a local candidate hang posters. Maybe you can find a Meet-up and join a local DFA or One America group. Maybe you can write a letter to the editor of your paper. I don’t know. It isn’t up to me to decide what you do. It’s up to you.
You may have twelve in your group or twelve thousand. It doesn’t matter. The righteous cannot long be denied – unless they agree to be denied. You are the leader you are waiting to find. You are hereby deputized. Now, go make something happen.

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