I have a sign in my front lawn that says 'Obama for President'. I've never had a political sign in my yard before. I'm not much for politics, to be honest. I didn't even buy this sign. It was a gift. In the pouring down rain, my neighbor came to my door, sign in hand and gave it to me. I was touched and I put the sign out, mostly as an act of love to her although I do support Barack Obama in this election. But because of this sign, I feel that I am held to a higher standard this election. I feel as though I've opened myself up to questioning from those who want to know why I support Obama or what it is that made me decide to do so. It's a new level of responsibility; one that I didn't ask for, but that I am willing to accept. With that said, I feel I should put my thoughts out there about what happened yesterday.
When I woke up, I found a video from Obama in my inbox explaining why he is rejecting public financing of this election and instead choosing to raise funds privately. He explained that the system was broken, full of loopholes that allow special interest groups to pour unlimited funds into campaigns. He said he wanted to reject that money and instead fund his campaign with money from regular, everyday people. An astounding 47% of the money he raised in his early campaign came from people who gave less than $200. He had over 1.5 million unique donors. He has used the internet to fuel a grassroots campaign that I have found to be inspiring and a true demonstration of democracy. So I should be thrilled that he is now taking on the idea of public finance reform, right? Wrong.
So why does his decision bother me? It's simple...he went back on his word. A year ago he pledged to accept public funds for the general election and now he's changed his mind. He's spun it as a noble cause, noting that he's rejecting over $80 million in funds. But I'm not naive...it's simple to see that the real reason he's doing this is that he stands to raise unprecedented funds with his internet campaign and he won't be bogged down with fundraising. It's a bold, intelligent move and he knows that campaign finance is not a make-or-break issue for most voters. In fact, after a few weeks, this will blow over as debates about the economy, the war in Iraq, oil prices, the environment, etc. heat up. This decision could essentially win him the election because we all know that those with the money have the power. I think we all know that he made the right decision in terms of what is best for his candidacy. But he still went back on his word and he still let me down.
Obama's campaign talks a lot about hope, something I truly believe in. And here's the thing...if my hope were in Barack Obama I would be feeling pretty lousy today. In fact, if my hope were in any one person, I would be let down over and over again, probably on a daily basis. No one, not Barack Obama, not my husband, not my parents or my pastor or my closest friends, can offer me unlimited hope. No one can promise that they will never disappoint me and if they do they're lying, because we all make mistakes. We all choose our own comfort, power, needs over others at some point. We disappoint each other. We hurt one another. We lie. We go back on our word. And if you're pointing your finger at Obama right now, you'd better take a good look at yourself first. I'm not saying he isn't guilty of making a selfish decision, I'm just saying there's guilt in all of us and I know I certainly can't cast the first stone.
So where does this leave me? I have a sign in my yard that publicly declares my support for a man who let me down yesterday. Do I take the sign down? Absolutely not. That sign is an outreached-hand, a welcome mat to my neighbors. That sign tells them that even though we have our differences, we still have something in common, a cause, an ideal that can bring us together. And I still support Obama, even when he lets me down, precisely because my hope isn't in him. And maybe when my neighbors are let down and feel hopeless one day, they'll ask me why I'm not. As Christians, we can get so caught up in the politics of life, in regulating morality, in secondary arguments that are meaningless without meeting, knowing, loving Jesus. That's where my hope lies...in Christ. And because of that I can forgive a man for disappointing me. My hope doesn't hinge on man's actions; it is firmly rooted in the work that was done on the Cross so many years ago. That's where hope is and that is where you'll find me, Obama sign and all.