Note: I am purposefully leaving the names of political candidates out of this post, but it should be rather clear whom I am addressing. Additionally, this post represents my personal opinions and they do not necessarily represent those of individuals or blogs to which I contribute material. So with that bit of introduction out of the way…
It is rather an understatement to suggest we are in one of the most intriguing political seasons in recent memory. The two major political candidates for the Presidency of the United States are arguably the most polarizing figures at least in American politics many have every experienced. After a hard fought primary process that resulted in perhaps a surprise candidate for the Republican Party and an expected candidate for the Democratic Party, we are left with two major candidates and the usual third-party options from which to choose the next leader of our country.
Watching the comments concerning a particular nominee has been quite interesting. Some seem to feel this candidate is a complete moral failure and should be shunned. They are doing all they can to convince people to go the route of not voting for that individual with a clever hashtag to boot. Others, while recognizing the plethora of moral issues with this particular candidate, nevertheless will cast their vote under the belief the only other option is far more vile. In the muddy middle are those who believe sitting this voting season out or pulling the lever for a third party candidate is the only true option. I understand and appreciate the various pro and con arguments that have been presented to date.
To varying degrees, those who maintain support for a particular candidate are viewed by some evangelicals and bloggers as people with no true biblical conscience. How can one vote for a person with so many moral failures? On the other hand, some evangelical leaders have presented a clear case why a vote for that particular choice is important citing issues such as the Supreme Court, second amendment rights, and to some extent, a firm knowledge of what the opposing candidate will do based on that person’s track record and the planks of that political party if granted the keys to the Oval Office.
I never write about politics mostly because it can be so toxic. I spend most of my posts trying to dig down to the core issues of life. It is not that I am not vested or interested in the political process. I just recognize that political solutions are merely Band-Aids (if that) to the festering sores of life that only God can truly heal. True healing to the world’s problems can only come through a relationship with God and a life driven to loving God and our neighbor as Scripture outlines. A political candidate is and will never be a savior for mankind. Jesus is the Savior. Anyone who looks to a politician to save them will always be disappointed.
With that said, I do recognize the importance of one’s vote. While Jesus is the only Savior and the true answer for the issues that vex us as individuals, a nation, and the world, our elected leaders do have an impact on life. We are commanded to let our light shine and to not hide it under a bushel. Part of letting your light shine is being involved in the running of the affairs of the nation. Moreover, an element of that involvement is how your vote is cast.
There is no doubt all the candidates running for president are wretched sinners. That is a simple fact of the human condition. It seems this year, the stakes are much higher and the choices less than desirable. To be quite honest, it seems I have held my nose for one reason or another when pulling the lever (well actually when coloring the bubble) for a candidate. I recognize their moral failures and the fact that much of what they have promised will never take place in the manner they outlined. In large part that is the nature of politics – making promises you never will keep to gain an office with a great deal of power. I am not blind to such realities. Politicians continue to disappoint, but my hope is never rooted in a person to save me or my country. I have hope they will do good for the people that elected them, but I know that reality is often just a faint glimmer of hope. Politics is a game, one of politicians forgetting what their ultimate job is all about and instead desiring glory and fame to maintain and to expand their political power base. Nothing new there as that has been the nature of politics for centuries.
In a perfect world, we would have candidates with sound godly morals who desired only the best for the people they serve. Since we do not live in a perfect world, the individuals who run for office do not meet fully meet that standard. It seems the higher up the political ladder one climbs, the less moral substance they have to offer. Maybe that is just what happens when people seek positions of power. As the old saying goes, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. We seem to be dealing with an array of candidates who fit that description perfectly.
What is one to do? When I look at a candidate, I understand based on historical precedent that when I look back at their time in office, I will more often than not be disappointed. Again, this seems to be the nature of politics in my lifetime, namely piles of empty promises with steady fast march towards the support of depravity. Our choices this year present some hard choices to make. Certainly one candidate has not taken moral fiber with breakfast over the years. At the same time, one can suggest that individual has made enough of a case on enough issues outside of the personal moral foibles to garner a vote. The other major candidate represents a party that makes it quite clear where they stand on marriage, abortion, and a plethora of other social and world issues. Furthermore as recent events have made clear, this candidate has their own share of problems with moral choices. As always, there are third party candidates that seem to be attractive to some, but their own political platforms are littered with questionable stances on social, national, and global issues.
Tough choices. Do we overlook character and just go with party platforms? I affirm that character is a huge consideration. We cannot place a vote for a politician who lacks any element of sound moral character. I hate to say it but if we applied that across the board, we would never vote for anyone running for office as they are all failures in that regard. Maybe at the local or state level we could find some morally upright candidates, but at the national level, let’s just say the pickings are slim if there are any at all.
In my humble opinion, we do not have the best crop of candidates from which to choose. With that said, that seems to have been the case since I have been able to vote starting with the choice between George H. W. Bush, Ross Perot, and Bill Clinton, to the more recent choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Not stellar choices mind you, but I ended up pulling the lever for someone in my belief represented the best potential to achieve some level of positive impact on the country. That is about all one can do when voting.
Some may suggest voting for a particular candidate is a vote merely out of fear. Perhaps that is true. I do fear the idea of a party being in power who embraces gay marriage, who declares and allows people who feel getting an abortion was a wise choice because having a baby was an inconvenience, and who find religious liberty a thing to be done away with (except of course for their God hating agenda). If someone does not fear this then they need to evaluate their understanding of what is at stake. I also see a vote for a Presidential candidate as something more than voting for a single person. I have to consider the individuals that person will put around them, those who will have a voice and tremendous influence on the making of policy. I have to consider things such as appointments to the Supreme Court, especially in a day and age when laws and social issues of great importance are being decided in that venue. I have already mentioned issues of gay marriage and abortion as important factors.
It is based on these and many considerations that a no vote or a vote for a third-party candidate does not rise to the level of something I can consider as a viable option. I have gone the no-vote route in the past so for the record, that is something I do consider. I know many will disagree and will vehemently argue I have gone to the “dark side”. The alternative is too unpalatable and not voting or choosing parties that have their own questionable stances on issues is also not an option.
There is still a little over three months until the election. Something may take place or come to light that will change my position. I will continue to watch what transpires and will continue to pray about how to cast my vote. As things stand now, can I make this vote with a clear conscience? Based on the landscape of where things stand now, my answer is yes. I might end up on the outside of the evangelical playpen along with other evangelical leaders and friends, but I am just being honest about where I land at this point in the process. Again, things may change as we approach 8 November 2016.
Let us all do our diligence as voters while recognizing that ultimately, God is and forever will be in control regardless of who ends up being triumphant this political season. In an age of stormy politics and less than desirable choices for leaders, it is comforting we can rest in the arms of a loving almighty God who will one day return to fix this broken world. Come quickly Lord.
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