15 April 2008

tax day

For April 15, it was really a very lovely day today - with warming weather, though not quite "hot" yet, accompanied by a gentle breeze. Thus I took a nice long walk this afternoon with our dog, camera in hand. My intention was to capture some images of the flowering trees and springtime bulbs, and I did end up with a number of really nice pictures of that sort.

But today isn't only "tax day" - it's also one week until the Pennsylvania primary. Living in Philadelphia, the voting public is overwhelmingly Democratic. My own neighborhood, though increasingly integrated, remains largely white, historically populated by blue collar workers and tradesmen, mostly Catholic, though with a growing younger generation of professionals, many of whom grew up in the neighborhood and live only a few doors away from their parents or aunts and uncles and cousins.

I can't predict how April 22 will go in the rest of Pennsylvania, but I'm pretty sure how the vote will go around here. Since I was snapping photos anyway, I thought I'd take some pictures of various yard signs and bumper stickers, both election-related and just generally political. I didn't take a picture of every sign (which would have required tramping across yards and up on porches), but what I've posted here is a fairly representative sample.

On the whole, my own political views don't fit nicely into the spectrum on offer here in America. I usually answer "other" when I have a check a box identifying my politics on a survey. Still, if pushed, I'd probably admit to being, on the balance, a somewhat left-leaning moderate Democrat - though more so on some issues than others.

Certainly a number of my more conservative evangelical friends think I'm just a plain old "liberal." But, given my context, I really do feel much more of a moderate. And my actual influences have a lot more to do with the wider historical sweep of Christian social teaching and the influence of contemporary political theologians, than they do with the main currents on the American political scene. Perhaps these sorts of labels - "liberal," "conservative," "moderate," etc. - are somewhat relative to context, social expectations, and background experiences.

My 5 year old is decidedly an Obama supporter, pointing out every sign and loving the large and eye-catching red, white, and blue "HOPE" posters that most bus stops in Philly currently seem to feature. I suspect, however, that her preference has much more to do with liking what seems to her the exotic sound of the name "Barack Obama" than any deep policy commitments. When not opting for the polite "Mr. Obama" appellation, she'll sound it out, every syllable: Bah-Rak-Oh-Bah-Mah.

The rest of the weather this week is supposed to remain lovely, even if it will reach nearly 80 degrees by Friday. Perhaps I'll wander the neighborhood again in the next days, concentrating this time more on the flowers.