Monday, April 26, 2004

Isn’t Vietnam over yet?
I know this is probably naïve, especially since I was born after the end of the Vietnam War, but can’t we stop fighting it? I’m eager for the first presidential election where it won’t be an issue – will it be 2012, 2016? The current bickering over
Kerry’s medals
and Bush’s National Guard record strikes me as a little insane.

I know that for a lot of people in Bush and Kerry’s generation, Vietnam was the defining issue of that time. But maybe it’s time to let that go? Maybe it’s time to fight our 21st century battles?

Another aspect of this troubles me. The nature of electoral politics today makes every moment of a candidate’s life fair game for scrutiny. I wonder though, is it fair to judge the character of George Bush or John Kerry based on their actions in the 1970s? Even if we were to decide that one or both of them behaved poorly in regards to Vietnam, isn’t there the possibility that they redeemed themselves through subsequent actions? Isn’t there the possibility for people to change? Obviously accountability is important, but we need room in politics for people to grow and we need to acknowledge the humanity of our politicians.

What concerns me more is that Christians on both sides of the political spectrum have entered this particular argument with great zeal. But as Christians, I believe we should acknowledge God’s redemptive power and ability to wholly transform our lives. As both candidates profess to be Christian, shouldn’t we trust that God is working similarly in their lives?

I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t hold politicians responsible for their actions. But in this case, how does Bush’s record from 1972 and Kerry’s discarding (or not) his medals inform our choice for president? Does it necessarily tell us anything about how they view the war in Iraq or the larger war on terrorism? Let’s evaluate the candidates on their actions and statements in recent history. It’s not like there’s a lack of material.

I think our world would be a better place if we focused on real issues, rather than slogging through the legacy of a 30 year-old political and cultural conflict. For instance, rather than wondering whether Bush fulfilled his National Guard commitment or Kerry threw away his medals, let’s have a serious discussion about the 528 US troops and 104 coalition troops killed in Iraq, 106 US troops killed in Afghanistan, 4,895 to 6,370 Iraqi soldiers killed, and 8,000 to 10,000 civilian deaths in Iraq.

Sources:, Iraq Body Count



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