By: Tom Butts
I was listening today as Rick Perry dropped his nomination for President of the United States. As I listened I kept noticing that it sounded much more like a sermon than a leader bowing out of a campaign. Normally I would have turned off the “noise” but kept listening. His words were a combination of secular sentences and Bible quotes.
Now I’m writing this as a person who truly believes in God. Yes, I get it from both sides, my Christian friends that say, “How can you embrace the gay lifestyle?” and my gay friends that say, “How can you believe in a made up person?” But this is a different article on a different day.
Last summer, I was again, watching television with my friend Shane visiting from Australia. President Obama was speaking and at the end did the obligatory “God bless you and God bless America.” I didn’t really notice until Shane looked at me and said, “Hey, can you go back a few seconds?” So I did. It played again, I’m sure I was on Twitter on my phone. He said, “Did you f*cking hear that? The President just talked about God.” This started to make me think. Had I been desensitized by the right wing? Why is my President saying that after each and every speech? So, I did some research.
I found this:
On the evening of April 30, 1973, Richard Nixon addressed the nation live from the Oval Office in an attempt to manage the growing Watergate scandal. It was a difficult speech for Nixon; he announced the resignations of three Administration officials, including Attorney General Richard Kleindienst, but Nixon nonetheless tried to sound optimistic. As he approached the end of his speech, Nixon noted that he had “exactly 1,361 days remaining” in his term and wanted them “to be the best days in America’s history.” “Tonight,” he continued, “I ask for your prayers to help me in everything that I do throughout the days of my presidency.” Then came the magic words: “God bless America and God bless each and every one of you.”
Almost 39 years ago was when a sitting President first spoke those words. The context was hardly an auspicious beginning for the phrase in the presidency, and it didn’t immediately catch on. Gerald Ford eschewed it, as did Jimmy Carter. But not Ronald Reagan. Reagan made “God bless America” the omnipresent political slogan that it is today.
Again, I’m writing this as I honestly hadn’t known anything different. You see, I’m 46, so when I was 7 years old this started happening. It was like “pledging allegiance” (again, a different article on a different day), it was something we all did and really, for me at least, there was no significance.
In my opinion, really, there’s no place for this in a Presidency. I don’t care if my President is Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist; I just want them to be moral. Unfortunately I can’t imagine the backlash President Obama would receive if he decided to take it out of his speeches, some people still don’t think he’s American.
My point is, our secular nation is not being threatened by non-Christian values, it’s being threatened by Christianity itself. Let’s remember why we separated and fought to get away from England in the 1700s. We are a free nation, a secular nation, and this is something unique and wonderful. I’m hoping someone else takes the time to evaluate and has the nerve to talk about it with the Presidential Seal on the podium in front of him (or her).
By: Tom Butts (No “Ifs” “Ands” or “Butts”)
I was having a conversation with my father about politics; it’s never good or it’s so ambiguous that neither of us can make sense of it. I of course am Democrat, and my father is a “Texas Republican”. Ask me what that is…
Well, it’s quite easy to explain. My father votes Republican, plain and simple. He likes the image of the candidate; it has a lot of pull for him. In 1980/84 he voted for Ronald Reagan. He really had a bro-mance with that president. To this day, I’m sure there’s still a picture of him and “Aunt Nancy” in his house, framed in some black-patent frame from 1981. In 2000 he was very excited that GW Bush won the election, a mental landslide in my father’s head (although Gore captured the popular vote). What these men have in common is two things: Belt buckles and cowboy hats. Yes, it’s actually that simple. You can probably guess who my father supports this year (hint: another Texan, with poor debating skills).
So, back to my point, we were talking about the 2012 election and my father asked who I was going to support in the General Election. I quickly told him President Obama. He said to me, “you are a one-issue voter”. You know what? I think I am.
It bothers me when my gay friends say that they’re Republicans. I say “bother” because I do believe everyone should have the ability to vote for the person they think would best lead the nation. I hear a lot of my gay friends talk about how they are excited about Romney, or Paul. I still don’t understand.
I’m a white guy, my husband and I make a really good living (we’re DINKS – double income no kids). We own homes, we travel, if you were to look at us, we probably look like Republicans. But we’re Democrats. The main reason is that I don’t think you have anything without your freedom. Your freedom to marry, freedom to be respected, freedom to be loved, etc. I can’t think about money saved by voting for a conservative candidate when he or she is saying things like, “we can’t support big government unless it’s to overturn a state’s stance on marriage or abortion.” In addition to confusing me, it offends me to no end.
I tried to explain to my father that without the ability to be equal in the eyes of a secular government, I have nothing. He still didn’t get it. So, I said, “Dad, what if the Republican Party platform said people over the age of 75 should be banned from driving?” – - (Long pause) – - he then says, “that would never happen”, I challenged him again. He tells me that he couldn’t possibly vote for the party (he’s 81 years old). I said, “Wouldn’t that make you a one-issue voter”? – - (Another pause) – - “I get it”, he says.
I think what it boils down to is when you try to get people thinking about things that are important to them and that it could be taken away, they get the AH-HA! moment and it clicks.
So, when people ask me if I’m a one-issue voter, I proudly say yes. Until we get equal rights and the ability to focus on other topics that don’t take our rights away, I don’t mind if people think I’m being narrow minded…
I’m simply being me.