Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm Voting for Obama

Because, you know, the Illinois junior senator himself said:

So I am going to try to be so persuasive in the 20 minutes or so that I speak that by the time this is over, a light will shine down from somewhere.

It will light upon you. You will experience an epiphany. And you will say to yourself, I have to vote for Barack. I have to do it.

So I guess I have no choice.


1 comment:

Careful Reader said...

I think it's pretty neat that Obama suggests that the will to vote for a particular candidate should be ultimately confirmed by divine light. True, his statement might seem grandiose if we ignore how much each of us depends on God to guide our faculties. Also it might seem grandiose if we fail to consider that each vote may be a drop in the bucket with respect to our nation's future, but it should be a monumental moral act for each of us since it constitutes one of our most broadly aimed social actions. A light from somewhere had better come down on us, when we make decisions like these, especially given how difficult it is to interpret political rhetoric.

I took my vote seriously as a moral act not because I imagined it would decisively impact our nation's future, but rather because it carried out my intentions regarding our nation's future. I based my vote on information I gathered from candidates as well as from other sources. As a moral act, responding to a speech might be just as important as Obama suggests. I needed God's help each and every time I listened to a speaker or read a position statement. In fact, yes, I needed God to tell me how to take Obama's messages, beyond all the research and intellectual work I needed to do in order to process what he and McCain had to say.

Obama's rhetorical work built a bridge over to me, but God had to close the gap by laying the final plank in that bridge...or not. God works with speakers--or doesn't--by allowing us to decide how to respond to an orator who is working with all his might to convince us of something.

Obama's speech is a wonderful affirmation of kairos as a spiritual influence that none of us can control--though we can work as hard as possible, as rhetors, to speak the best and most important truths in ways that are intelligible to our particular audiences. Obama is working against the "sound bite" culture that your blog post exemplifies, a culture that delights in takes things out of context--justifying itself by glorifying the importance of its own home context, as though that were the one that mattered more than the one being addressed by the speaker.

What do *you* think of Obama's rhetoric in light of Augustine's (not Milton's, of course) _On Christian Doctrine_?

Obama suggests here, quite explicitly, that he is trying to earn God's help, through all of his rhetorical efforts to appeal to his audience. I think that's a good idea. Your posting about Obama as some kind of Messiah is cute, but not very respectful and kind of embarrassing to me, as a Catholic (grownup, pro-life, mother of three,
orthodox, delighted admirer of Chesterton who would not dare imitate the man in my own time when I must take seriously those who profoundly disagree with me and who have the power to shape my children's disastrous ways if I fail to appeal to them effectively). This is no time to kid around about politics in a public arena.