I’ve decided to make a brief departure from my policy of not commenting on politics…

Dear Mr. President:

In the Mennonite Church, political participation is a much-debated topic. In general, the question is how much should one be involved with earthly government, when one’s ultimate allegiance is to God. Because of this, I have been reegistered as an independent for quite a while.

In the election of 2000, I was persuaded by the vision of compassionate conservatism to vote for George Bush. I was sorely disappointed. Chastened at the role my vote played in bringing about eight years of military expansion (which seemed to me to be in direct opposition to the Prince of Peace), I seriously considered not voting for a president in the 2008 election. However, captured by the historic nature of your candidacy and its vision of hope, I marked your name on my ballot.

When you were chosen as the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, I was surprised. I guess it seemed somewhat premature, but hey – the past year had been rather historic. But then you used your acceptance speech to defend the idea of just war and the concept of redemptive violence.

I was unsettled. Redemptive violence is a lie. No war has ever been just.

Now, Mr. President, you have recently proposed a federal budget for the next fiscal year with a freeze on “non-security discretionary spending”. I am not opposed to this spending freeze – the government debt is out of control. It is the “non-security” qualifier that I could do without. It is as if there is now not even a pretense of peace. The war spending of the previous administration will continue unchecked.

Mr. President, hope is powerful and I am hopeful that this country can embrace a new direction in foreign policy – a direction of respect, dialogue, and development, rather than fear and violence. But my hope for your presidency is fading just as my hope for compassionate conservatism did.

I cannot grasp the challenges that you face. I know they are many. My prayers are with you.

ordinary (mostly)