Obama is our man — the man Americans chose. Most Americans identified with him. His age, his education, his brilliance, his bi-racial genes, his outstanding gifts of leadership, his young family, his professing religious faith without specific denomination or congregational identity — all make him preferred in our American minds.
Honesty and trustworthy citizens are traditionally thought to be found among the most fervent church-goers. However such people are appearing as less trust-worthy, less rational, too emotional, too narrow and too judgmental. The last presidential election (Nov. 5, 2012) made a clear and profound statement. The exceptional and extraordinary religiosity of the losing candidate was too much for the average American. Decency, integrity and intelligence unencumbered by a firm religious faith are in vogue in America. Romney’s generous commitment to God was found scary, even a bit weird for many. His spiritual fervor placed him apart from the average American. The vast majority of U.S. citizens could not begin to identify with someone who has given and continues to give so much time and money to the service of God; with someone whose life is so “squeaky clean.” Romney is far from average. He is different than most. Further, being older and not quite “plugged in” was the perception of Romney by many in the 50-and-younger crowd.
The winner of the election comes off with a much more favorable image. Obama demonstrates being moderate, flexible and reasonable, reflecting more the middle of the road for the American people. He stands unshackled by rigorous convictions. Although Obama’s track record on the economy has not been illustrious, the mystery and hard-nosed agenda to lower the national debt presented by the opposing party was too frightening for many.
Does this fear of most American voters indicate that we tend to be a bit selfish; concerned about our money but not our country’s lack of money? Maybe we are guilty of living in a fantasy — enjoying this country’s greatness without seriously rescuing it from grave economic peril. Does godliness appear more and more eccentric and foreign to us?
At any rate, the last election stands in testimony of us Americans coming together as a more secular and post-religious nation. Our secret ballots reveal our secrets.
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology
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