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The Messianic Candidate

Mar
26
2008

Over the Easter Holiday, as I listened to messages of hope and redemption, I was reminded not of my early years attending a suburban Texas Protestant church, but of the presidential candidacy of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

The core mesages of Obama’s campaign – hope and change – are at their heart, messianic. Weren’t hope and change the virtues Christ himself was preaching as he led his followers to Jerusalem to overthrow the corrupt leaders in the temple? Obama’s candidacy offers many Americans hope that one man can go into the temple known as Washington, D.C. and rid the place of its corruption, bring its inhabitants together and deliver us to a promised land – a changed land – of peace and prosperity.

Like others, I am somewhat troubled by the devotion of Barack Obama’s followers. To hear Obama’s supporters speak reminds me of some evangelical Christians in their devotion to the man and his cause. Such is the degree of faith Obama supporters are required to maintain that I’m reminded of a famous quotation: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

I don’t feel as though I’m exaggerating. Not too much, anyway. About ten days ago, I was chatting with two friends, one who has been on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton and one who is a reporter for a local news station. To protect his identity, we’ll just say he’s Not Backing Clinton. Here is how I recount the conversation:

“If you think the media is biased towards Obama, we are not. If we have a bias, it is towards the truth,” my reporter friend started.

“Oh really?” was all we had to say to egg him to elucidate.

“See McCain and Clinton, they have long records of public service and public statements, and so we can check and see if they’re telling the truth. But because they have records to contradict what they’re saying, we have to report on it. Obama has no record to contradict what he says, so therefore, we must assume that everything he says is the truth. And so, if it seems we are biased towards Obama, it is because our bias is for the truth, and Obama is the Truth.”

At that point, I had to get another cocktail.

The similarities between Obama supporters and Evangelical Christians are becoming clear: they are both based on a fundamental reliance on faith. Clinton and McCain supporters tend towards empiricism – basing their vote on a candidate’s record and ability to implement solutions, Obama’s followers must put aside their skepticism and have faith in their candidate’s vision.

Because he has no record of, you know, actually doing things in the United States Senate, Barack Obama must ask his followers to believe in his ability to implement hope and change, just as the Bible asks its readers to have faith that the earth was created some 5,000 years ago.

So no, Barack Obama is no secret-Muslim Manchurian Candiate trying to infiltrate America’s political system. Rather, Obama is exploiting people’s need to believe in something and with soaring oratory has attracted a flock of believers.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 7:25 AM | Permalink

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