The Nice Party

Posted: September 27, 2008 in Peace

Jody and I watched the debate last night on CNN, and based on the reactions of a few folks in Ohio I think I might launch a new political party.

Let me shoot myself in the foot right off by saying that I’m hands-down for Barack Obama in this election. Have been for a long time, and last night didn’t change anything on that front. Strangely enough, I wanted Obama to be the Democratic nominee early on, and I wanted McCain to be the Republican nominee early on, too. I lean way more toward the Democrats in general. WAY more. At the same time, I don’t find either party to be paragons of virtue or the hope for the world or anything like that… It’s just that we get two choices, and I greatly prefer one to the other.

Anyway, now that most people I know are angry at me, back to my idea…

CNN gathered a group of undecided Ohio voters together in a room with Soledad O’Brien to watch the debate. A third were registered Democrats, a third registered Republicans, and a third independent. They gave each person a monitor to gauge their reactions as the debate happened (turned the dial one way when they liked what they were hearing and vice-versa). So during the debate, there were these three lines constantly at the bottom of the screen showing how each of these three groups were reacting to what the candidates were saying.

It served as quite the metaphor: most of the time all three were flat like the patient was dead. 🙂

Anyway, I noticed something about the independent voters during the debate, something analyst Jeffrey Toobin brought up after the debate ended. Whenever one candidate said personally negative things about the other candidate, the independent voters didn’t like it. Whenever one of the candidates said something complimentary about the other (and, I might add, only one of the candidates ever did this), the line always went up.

Which got me to wondering. Is it possible that America wants people to be nice to each other? Truth be told, I have a hard time believing this to be true, but it gives me a tiny glimmer of hope.

Let’s launch THE NICE PARTY!!!!!!

As a preacher, I read quite a bit about postmodernism (how our world is changing). I read about the Emerging Church movement in this vein. One of the striking characteristics of this phenomenon is that people don’t like the “us vs. them” mentality, a mentality so entrenched in our political system that I cannot imagine it changing.

But I’m holding out hope for my candidate of choice in this election season. That he might sense this trend that close observers saw on display on CNN last night, and begin to act on it.

EXAMPLE #1: I’ll tell you when I decided Obama was my candidate of choice. Oddly enough, it was during the Jeremiah Wright mess. Obama delivered his famous speech on the race issue, and it wasn’t the speech so much (though it was fantastic). It was a fleeting moment in the speech when he showed humility (something about how imperfect his candidacy was). That did it for me. I had never seen humility in a presidential campaign. It was brief, but I saw it.

EXAMPLE #2: Last night, as alluded to earlier, Obama was the only one who ever said his opponent was right about something. He said it several times – enough to garner attention – though he blasted him many times, too. Once again, something you don’t see very often.

Since I have an active imagination…

OBAMA V. CLINTON: I know being kind, deferential, and humble is about as risky a move imaginable in a presidential election, but imagine with me. I wonder what the reaction would have been when Senator Clinton tore into Senator Obama on the campaign trail if his reaction would have been more along the lines of… “I would vote for Senator Clinton. I have great respect for her positions and share so many of them it is sometimes hard to even see any differences. I am not running against her so much as with her. I respect her career, and if she wins the nomination, I will support her wholeheartedly. I believe that I might be the better candidate to rally the country together as one, but I do not want to be her opponent as much as I want to be a partner in leading our country forward.”

Call me crazy, but I really think the country might be ready to hear something like that…

OBAMA V. MCCAIN: Risky, I know, but I couldn’t help thinking last night (especially watching that green line on the screen) what would have happened if Obama would have spent even more time saying, “Look, I have great respect for my opponent. Please don’t leave here thinking I’m not honored to share this stage with him. Neither of us have all the answers because no one has all the answers. We do, however, come at a few things from different perspectives, and this great country gets to choose which direction it prefers. But I count Senator McCain as someone deserving all our respect, and I refuse to engage in any sort of dialogue that might hint at any disdain toward him in any way. Here are our policy differences, but do not for a minute think that these differences reflect any disrespect I have for Senator McCain as a human being.”


Pipe dreams. That’s what my cynical nature tells me. I’m just saying this morning that the reactions of those independent Ohio voters last night, and the reality of our changing world gives me, yes, the audacity to hope for something better someday.

  1. dejon05 says:

    You’re right, my friend.

    And I hate to counter your excellent discussion with my typical dose of cynicism, but the video clip below flies so directly in the face of your message, I had to share it.


    Be well.

  2. alsturgeon says:

    Just a theory I’m working on here, but I think videos like that are destined to backfire. With the non-partisans, that is… Which McCain needs desperately.

    Hope all is well with you, too. Turned in my first “memo” yesterday. Ungraded memo.

  3. jami3d says:

    Al, I may just write you in. Can you fit that in your schedule?

  4. alsturgeon says:

    Sure thing, Jamie. I’m even ready for Katie Couric.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s