The fathers of our country made sure everyone knew that religion and government could not mix. Separation of church and state was a top shelf issue. After a couple of hundred years, the line of demarcation between church and state has become increasingly more difficult to find. Our state and federal governments spend a disproportionate amount of time addressing issues of morality, faith and other personal beliefs. I guess it is understandable due to the fact that preachers are spending a disproportionate amount of time addressing politics. I have spent thirty years of my life in Lynchburg, Virginia, which happens to be the home of Jerry Falwell. Over those thirty years, I have been able to witness the intermingling of politics and religion first hand, as Jerry Falwell wrecklessly plunged into the political arena. I disagree a great deal with Jerry Falwell, but I have seen him do some very positive and productive things to help people. It has been his political journeys that have always seemed to inflict damage somewhere. Jerry Falwell is a perfect example of why Thomas Jefferson believed we needed to keep a great deal of distance between religion and politics.
Our political system is currently facing a challenge that is certainly as difficult as, if not more difficult than, the separation of church and state. We have reached a point in our country's history where politics has often become more important than national issues. Decisions are made on a regular basis for political reasons that involve everything from taxes to education and even war. If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would certainly be seen leading the fight that challenges our leaders to vote for what is good for the country and not just a political party.
There is a blues legend that tells the tale of Robert Johnson going down to the crossroads to make a deal with the devil, so he could be a bluesman. Several songs have been written about this legend. This practice of going to the crossroads, however, is not limited to blues musicians. In recent years, we have seen politician after politician go to the crossroads for that very same deal. In a desperate attempt to reach the conservative right, John McCain recently made yet another trip to the crossroads. McCain decided it was necessary to mend fences with Jerry Falwell, even though five or six years ago he seemed to be diametrically opposed to everything about Falwell. I am sure there are people as far left as Jerry is right, who believe Jerry Falwell is the devil. The devil is the "deal" itself. Like him or hate him, at least Falwell takes stances that reflect his beliefs. It appears with McCain that it is politics as usual. It's about the votes and not the issues.
Too many of our politicians are taking the Robert Johnson route. As participants
in this system of government, we must send the message that political posturing like McCain's recent attempt is simply unacceptable. It is imperative that we hunt for the candidates who represent the people and not the party. We have to seek out and support people who stand up for something and who are not simply out gathering votes. If we open our eyes, expand the search and maybe even cross party lines, we might just find them. A blending of ideas from all parties is where most of our answers lie.
I understand that all of this is pretty idealistic. Most true and effective changes come from idealistic visions. This country was founded because some idealistic visionaries would no longer accept what was. Thomas Jefferson has been quoted as having said, "In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principal, stand like a rock." Let's double our efforts in searching for those who, when it comes to principals, stand like rocks. In closing, there is a message in the fact that when Thomas Jefferson became vice-president and then president, he was the head of what was known as the Democratic-Republican party.