Lift Every Voice

If the opening campaign ads from the Democrats and Republicans are any indication, it could be a long fall. The first attack ads hardly indicated the prospect of a civil discussion of the issues. The Republicans made great fun of a trial balloon sent up by Bill Clinton’s lawyer, who wondered if being commander in chief qualified the president as being on military “active duty,” thus forestalling the sexual harassment suit by Paula Jones. “Active Duty!” scorned the GOP ad, complete with pictures of Clinton playing golf and wearing sunglasses.

The Democrats jumped on Bob Dole’s decision to give up his Senate seat and leadership role to campaign full time—something most people thought he should do. “Bob Dole is a quitter,” the silly Democratic campaign ad intoned. Yes, we’re really getting down to the vital questions here.

Each side’s campaign strategy seems similar—try to outrun your opponent to the political center while trying to scare the voters about the other side (i.e., “He’s really a liberal.”/“They’re all right-wing fanatics.” “He has no character.”/“He can’t complete a sentence.”) A substantial discussion about the values and policies that will best lead the nation into the future (especially about the best role for government) seems unlikely to emerge. Meanwhile, the children of my neighborhood (and many others) continue to be shot in the street.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1996
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