Friday, June 15, 2007

A Movement to Transform?

I sent the following letter to Sojourners in response to their exclusion of over half of the Democratic presidential candidate field from their recent Candidates' Forum:
Dear Sojourners,

I was appalled, dismayed, and disappointed to learn that your organization declined to find a way to include all of the Democratic Party candidate field in your recent forum. At the very least, Sojourners should be quite sensitive to how media access and portrayal of candidates influences voter perspectives. More to the point, you excluded the candidate that best exemplifies the values expressed in your Mission.

Not one to let such an injustice go unchecked, Rep. Dennis Kucinich corrected your error by securing time for the rest of the field to also share their perspectives on and commitment to Faith, Values, and (ending) Poverty. In this action Rep. Kucinich clearly demonstrated his commitment to social justice, helped to inspire CNN and the rest of the viewing public to see beyond the choices made for them by self-serving interest groups, and gave some hope that a true message of peace and love can prevail even when it might not seem marketable.

I invite Sojourners to admit their error and publicly acknowledge the leadership that Rep. Kucinich has shown in this situation. Until such time, I don’t intend to monetarily support Sojourners and will be canceling my subscription to your journal.


In response, I got what seems to be a semi-personalized form letter directing me to Sojourners website:
Mr. Kotinek,

Thank you for expressing your concerns about the recent Democratic presidential forum. We appreciate your willingness to share your views with us, as your thoughts have not gone unnoticed. Rep. Kucinich's absence, and the rest of the second-tier candidates, came in order to fulfill our need to engage in a broader dialogue on the issues. Filling in eight different candidates within one hour of time would make for a very limited discussion, which is something we very much wanted to avoid. I would invite you to take a look at our website which looks into this matter in further detail.


And my response:
Thank you for your response and dialogue on this issue.

Respectfully, if the intent of the candidate’s forum was broad dialogue, was choosing the three candidates receiving the most press the most effective way to achieve your goal?

My frustration and disappointment stems not as much from the fact that Rep. Kucinich was not included, or that any particular candidate was included or not; rather, I hold Sojourners to a higher standard than most mass media outlets and had hoped for an honest and real exploration of this subject. Sen. Clinton pointed out that she does her best (and it showed in the forum) to distance herself from the topic of faith. I feel that she was included only because the DNC and major media have anointed her as the “frontrunner.” Any such attempt this early in the game is ridiculous if the intent of an election is free-ranging debate and an opportunity to democratically select (on the part of the American people) the best candidate from the field. All of which begs the question, if that isn’t the intent we’re operating under, what is?


Today Jim Wallis published four questions he didn't get to ask at the Candidates' Forum. These questions cover the topics of extreme poverty, the practical application of the Commandments of Blessedness, the cultivation of fear as a political tool, and government funding of faith-based charitable organizations. I'm hoping to see Dennis Kucinich exhibit leadership in stepping up and being the first candidate to answer these questions, and in so doing, perhaps, kindle an acceptance of his legitimacy in the minds of the folks at Sojourners (Romans 12:20-21).

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