I am not happy with the results of the 2010 elections. I think the elections turned on misinformation, anger, and fear. Republicans said that President Obama and the Democrats had governed from the far left, and people are angry about the economy and afraid that the American standard of living will continue to slip.
Yet, this morning I woke up with the same affirmation as every other morning: "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). Hallelujah anyhow.
Let us be clear. President Obama is not a socialist. Neither he nor the Democrats in Congress govern from the left. They govern from the center-left. Regarding health care, those to the left of President Obama wanted, at the very least, Medicare for everyone. Those to the left of Obama wanted health care that is not tied to corporate profits. Regarding the stimulus plan, those to the left of Obama wanted a bigger stimulus with more money going to infrastructure. Too much money went to tax cuts in order to gain Republican support that the administration did not get. The misinformation in the campaign is that President Obama raised taxes. He has not.
I say, raise taxes on the rich. The budget deficit is a real concern, but a serious look at the budget shows that Medicare, social security, and defense eat the lion's share of federal spending. We ought not to cut environmental protection, education, or occupational safety. Government oversight is important if we want to prevent such disasters as the BP oil spill and the West Virginian mining tragedy. If we want high-speed rail that would improve transportation, cut the use of energy, and provide jobs, this will require investments from the federal government. If we want clean energy technology, this too will require money from the federal government. The private sector will not take these risks. And, the federal government is not the bogey man. Now, the rich who make money from their money pay less in taxes than those of us who work hard for the money.
So, now the Republicans have control of the House of Representatives. They will have to say something other than "No" to everything that President Obama proposes. The president and the new congress ought to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. They ought to cut back on defense spending and provide more money to help poor countries in the world. They ought to make a real effort to address climate change. My hope is that people coming to Congress -- especially into the United States Senate, professing a fidelity to the original intent of the Constitution -- will turn from the tactic of the filibuster. It is unconstitutional to require a super majority to get anything done. Perhaps these new senators will help in the effort to make the Senate a more reasonable and functional institution. Today, it is an embarrassment. That one senator can put a hold on American aid to Haiti to help with its post earthquake recovery is unconscionable.
The results of this election notwithstanding, I still pray for the leaders of our nation. I will honor the imperative of I Timothy 2:1-2: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity."
Dr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at JustPeaceTheory.com. She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.