Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I do think this upcoming election is the most important in my lifetime, which isn't saying much, since I was born during the Carter Administration. But so much is at stake for our country's ability to repair our relationship with our allies and undertake more sensible economic and environmental policies that I'm deeply worried about Bush's current lead. Still, the most important election label has been thrown around with abandon in American history, as the Times showed on Sunday. Among the most dubious usages:

1924 Coolidge vs. Davis
"I look upon the coming election as the most important in the history of this country since the Civil War."
Joseph Levenson, Republican leader, The New York Times, July 20

1976 Ford vs. Carter
"I think this election is one of the most vital in the history of America."
President Ford, debating Jimmy Carter, Oct. 22

1984 Reagan vs. Mondale
"This is the most important election in this nation in 50 years."
Ronald Reagan, Nov. 5

Meanwhile, Christian historian Mark Noll writes that he will be sitting this election out, as usual. He explains:

Seven issues seem to me to be paramount at the national level: race, life, taxes, trade, medicine, religious freedom, and the international rule of law. My disillusionment with the major parties and their candidates comes from the fact that I do not see them willing to consider the political coherence of this combination of convictions, much less willing to reason about why their own positions should be accepted, or willing to break away from narrow partisanship in order to try to act for the public good. ...

These are political convictions to which I have come as a result of my Christian faith. Of course, I could be mistaken--either in what traditional Christianity should mean politically for an American citizen in the early twenty-first century or in how best to argue for these positions with reasoning not demanding a pre-commitment to traditional Christianity. But as long as I hold these positions, I am a citizen without a political home.

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