Primaries, presidents, principles

Jan 27, 2020 by

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Twelve years ago, I was excited for Barack Obama’s leadership. But he bitterly disappointed me. He deported over 3 million people, more than the previous three presidents combined. He took only token steps on racialized incarceration and poverty, leaving tens of millions of Americans poor. He doubled U.S. oil extraction and launched the largest natural gas boom in U.S. history, supercharging climate change and fossil fuel hegemony.

Obama also continued our bipartisan policy of endless war. He launched intervention in Libya, fueled war in Syria with tens of billions of dollars, assassinated many thousands of people with drones, supported Latin American coups and promoted Hillary Clinton, who planned to enter Syria in all-out war.

It’s strange that many Mennonites adopt the partisan outlook of the Democratic Party over our own values. We care deeply about immigrants and stand up for them. So why support mass deporters? We are antiwar and speak out against it. And yet almost every Democratic president in living memory has been a hawk. We acknowledge the harms of pollution and climate change but uncritically accept Democrats who do far too little. We spot the hypocrisy, nationalism and Constantinianism of right-wing Christians but don’t see that liberal Christianity has many of the same flaws.

Many Indiana Mennonites gush over Pete Buttigieg, who helped occupy Afghanistan as a soldier and took part in the illegal invasion of Iraq as a contractor with McKinsey and Company, and then as mayor of South Bend presided over multiple crises of racialized police violence. Except Bernie Sand­ers, all candidates promise to maintain global military presences. All senator candidates except Sanders have voted for huge military budgets.

I would like to see Sanders win, because he is far more likely to protect our fragile environment. He is also reserved about wars. My hope for 2020 is not to see a transformation of society — which I will always look for instead from Christ’s kingdom — but to see a magistrate who opposes state-sponsored murder and will protect the environment.

David Lapp Jost
Bammental, Germany


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