Sam Brownback

Today, I will start an off-and-on series on the presidential candidates. I will profile various candidates and say what I like and dislike about them. I won’t always be consistent, but that is often the case when I am thinking through the issues.

I will start with Senator Sam Brownback. Why him? Because I don’t know how long some of these candidates will stay in the race. I want to comment on them while I still can.

When I first read about Senator Brownback, I saw that he was called “the darling of the religious right.” That should certainly make him my kind of candidate.

And, overall, he appears to be a godly man. I remember reading him confess that he used to hate the Clintons because of their ideology, but that he changed when he became a Christian. I understand what the old Sam Brownback was feeling. I find myself hating the Clintons more than twice a week.

But Brownback’s confession reminded me of two things. First, one can be a right-wing conservative without being a Christian. Even crusaders for conservative Christian causes can find themselves trapped in the desire for money, power, and sex. Jesus, however, told us to have different priorities. Second, we should love everyone, even those who differ from us politically, even the corrupt and the immoral.

Something else that I liked about Brownback’s confession was that it showed how his Christianity helped him to grow as a person. We hear all sorts of candidates profess Christianity, but we don’t often hear how their Christianity affects their day-to-day lives, or how it has made them more Christ-like. Sam Brownback is an exception.

And Brownback has been willing to grow some more. At the Tavis Smiley debate, he said that he voluntarily spent a few days in prison to see what it was like. He talked with the inmates to get a sense of their exeriences and backgrounds. He is willing to learn from different people and to allow that learning to make him a just and compassionate leader.

As far as his positions are concerned, my feelings are mixed. He is solidly pro-life on the abortion issue, and that is good. From what I have heard, he caved in on the recent immigration bill, and I do not like that. Maybe he thought that the bill was better than nothing, but I prefer a candidate who does not compromise on conservative principles. For Iraq, he supports the three-state solution, which would divide Iraq into three regions, Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish. I’m open to that idea. When I first heard Senator Joe Biden propose it, I thought, “You know, I don’t like Senator Biden, but that idea makes some sense.” Apparently, another Republican thinks so too.

In terms of persona, he is not overly impressive. He usually does not leave a great impression on me when I watch the Republican debates. Is this superficial? Yes, but a Republican candidate will need presence and charisma to defeat Hillary and her smooth-talking husband.

So I like Brownback, but I probably won’t vote for him.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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5 Responses to Sam Brownback

  1. Stephen (aka Q) says:

    Has Brownback staked out a position on torture (enhanced interrogation), mostly of innocent people? Or on whether to close Gitmo?

    I gather that you and I come from opposite ends of the political spectrum. I’m a liberal, pro-same sex marriage Canadian. I’ve been following US politics rather closely of late because of Iraq. I’m praying that we come to the end of the Bush Administration before Cheney starts a war with Iran.

    I wouldn’t usually get into that — I usually express my political opinions on my “secular” blog, Outside the Box — but you brought politics up. If you’re going to discuss the candidates, I would hope you will take torture into account. What would Jesus do, do you suppose? Could he vote for a pro-torture candidate under any circumstances?


  2. Steven Craig Miller says:

    Stephen writes: I’m a liberal, pro-same sex marriage, Canadian.

    It is bad enough that you’re liberal and pro-same sex marriage, but Canadian? How un-American can you get? Next you’ll tell us that you occasionally sip a Moosehead lager rather than the red, white, and blue Budweiser. (Just between you and me, I wouldn’t like to have it known that I voted for Clinton. But, I guess, you’ve never had that chance, eh?)


  3. James Pate says:

    I think he did state his position on torture in the debates, but I don’t remember it. I just looked it up on yahoo under “Brownback and Torture,” and the articles say he supports it because he said he would do anything to protect people’s lives.

    But I’ll discuss torture more in the following posts. It will come up in my post on McCain, and possibly Tancredo.

    But let me say some things about it as far as theology is concerned. On one hand, in Deuteronomy, God tells the Israelites not to beat fellow Israelites more than forty times. They were to respect the dignity of the other person. Yet, on the other hand, God tells the Israelites to kill the Amelekites for their attack on Israel. There is some concern for national security.

    For me, terror is a hard issue because, on one hand, it has gotten us information. Yet, there are questions about whether everyone caught is a terrorist, since some people were turned in by rival warlords.


  4. Stephen (aka Q) says:

    • Steven:

    If you’re making a serious point — i.e., that Americans can be liberal, too — I concede it. But in general the whole spectrum is further left in Canada, so that our ostensibly right-wing Conservative Party is arguably as liberal as your Democratic Party. More liberal on some measures (e.g. war in Iraq). Hence the decision to out myself as a Canadian.

    As for beer — I prefer a dark, British ale to either of those suspiciously yellow lagers you mention.

    • James:
    I was baiting you a little, and you responded with grace. Good for you.

    But I was also making a serious point, of course. In my view, there is no issue more grave than torture for American Christians to consider as they prepare to vote. Arguably, the only Republican who meets the standard here is McCain.

    Many passages in the Hebrew scriptures present YHWH as a war God, but that is surely problematic from a Christian point of view. In the New Testament, one might think of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (instead of a warhorse).

    Insofar as the Bible supports killing and the infliction of harm/pain, is it ever justifed as a tactic to get information out of someone? I don’t think so. Surely it is always in the interests of justice (an eye for an eye, etc.).

    You are aware that many of the detainees were handed over by warlords. According to the Red Cross, 70% to 90% of the Gitmo detainees are innocent.

    I notice you come out against abortion in a later post. It has always mystified me that Democrats can be pro-abortion but anti-torture; while Republicans (Rudy excepted!) can be pro-life and pro-torture. Is it possible to drink fresh water and salt water from the same spring (i.e., Christ)? The contradiction here is flagrant and self-evident. It makes me suspect that there’s some other ideology, some prior commitment, at work below the surface, clouding people’s judgement. (For the record, I oppose both torture and abortion.)

    If abortion is a grave moral issue come election time, torture ought to be no less. Especially the torture of tens of thousands of innocent men, held without charges being brought against them, and little or no recourse to a lawyer or the courts of law.

    One more relevant text: Paul’s instruction to overcome evil with good, and his quote, “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord” — i.e., vengeance is a divine prerogative that we are not to usurp. Thus even if the biblical depiction of a wrathful God is legitimately a Christian construct, the texts still provide doubtful authority for us to take torture into our own hands.


  5. Steven Craig Miller says:

    To: Stephen,

    Actually, I was trying to be cute and not serious. (At my age and stature, almost nothing I do is considered to be cute.) Your remarks about the Canadian Conservative Party is interesting. And for what it’s worth, I normally drink Guinness (and also avoid the yellow lagers), when I’m drinking beer.

    I’m glad you made a follow up to your previous post. I almost made one myself, but I preferred to see what you might have to say. I wasn’t disappointed.


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