Kevin H: To Vote or Not To Vote?
So Michael wrote an excellent and timely article last week about Christians living in exile in the land. It was written with an application to Americans but many parts of it could really be applied to any land in which we are living.
He wrote of the mistakes that American evangelicals make believing that America was or is somehow in covenant with God and how that manifests in wrongful political endeavors and characterizations. And of course, there was that line about praising God, gambling, and making it rain at strip clubs – I don’t even attempt to write such things as I do not have the gift of one-liners as does our blog host.
I do not want to make my article here one that argues about who we should or shouldn’t vote for or the merits (or lack thereof) of any such candidate. But Michael’s article spurred some thoughts in regards to some disturbing things I have heard this election season, many times by Christians. Things that appear to be the result of wrongful political endeavors and characterizations.
I am a Republican. I say that ever so more loosely with each passing day. I have voted largely for Republican candidates during my voting lifetime. I am not nor ever have been, an ardent enthusiast of any particular candidate. However, in my best estimation, the candidates I have voted for represent what I believe would be best for the locality, state, country, etc. within the given choices. This was often not by a large margin, but by some margin, nonetheless.
In our upcoming presidential election, unless there is a third party or independently running candidate that I can support, I do not think I will be able to vote for any candidate in good conscience given the presumed candidates from the two big parties. I have previously given some of my thoughts on this blog about Donald Trump. My opinion of the man and him as President is not good, to say the least. The same goes for Hillary Clinton. I cannot in good conscience vote for either of these candidates who I believe are severely lacking in character and could bring significant harm to our country.
Now to those disturbing things I have heard:
First up – If you don’t vote for Trump, you’re casting a vote Hillary.
This is fallacious. Maybe… maybe this reasoning can be applied to those who think Trump would be a better President and would vote for him but just don’t make the effort to do so. But this is patently false for those of us who think both Trump and Hillary are bad choices and cannot bring ourselves to vote for either one. Even if we vote for a third party candidate, it still is not a vote cast for Hillary. Just because I am a registered Republican and a conservative Christian, I am under no moral obligation to vote for the Republican candidate. The Republican party does not own my vote. I am voting (or abstaining) with my principles. In no way should this be construed as a vote for Hillary. Plus, it should be a self evident axiom that a vote not cast for a particular candidate is exactly that. A vote not cast. Not a vote casted.
Next up – If you don’t vote for Trump, you will be to blame for all the bad things that happen under a Hillary presidency.
Again, I say this is fallacious. If we want to play this game, we can come back and say that if you don’t vote for Hillary, you will be to blame for all the bad things that happen under a Trump presidency. Again, someone who does not vote for a particular candidate is doing exactly that – they are not voting for them. If they do not vote for the other candidate either, then they are also not giving their support to the other candidate. They should not be held responsible for the bad that happens if either candidate gets in office. Once more, the only plausible reason for saying this might be for those who would vote for Trump but are just too lazy to bother. But for those who cannot vote for the man in good faith, this does not apply and the statement should not be made.
Lastly – If we don’t vote we are giving up or reneging on our God given responsibility to do so.
I generally think that the ability to vote is a stewardship granted by God to those of us who have the freedom to do so. However, I do not think we can make a hardened fast rule that one must always vote in each and every possible election. There are plenty of scenarios we can imagine where people just don’t know enough about the candidates to cast an educated vote. Scenarios where they very well may have spent the “stewardship” of their time doing other important things in life and not getting up to speed on the candidates. And of course we have the scenario like this current one where people may be educated on the candidates and cannot in good faith cast a vote for either candidate. So we should not be guilting people into voting when there are legitimate reasons to not do so.
We are a people in exile.
The nation and political party we belong to is that of the kingdom of God. All other affiliations and loyalties are secondary. As Christians, we have no righteous requirement to vote Republican or against the dreaded enemy, the Democrats. (Or vice versa for some.) When a situation arises where one cannot sincerely discern a good choice of any degree out of the given options, then they are under no obligation to violate their conscience and vote for what they believe to be an evil choice.
Christians should not be pressuring others into violating their consciences. They should not be playing games by shaming them into voting for a particular candidate and then blaming them for the anticipated upcoming trouble if they don’t vote for said candidate.
It is understandable if a Christian has thought things through and genuinely believes that Donald Trump (or Hillary Clinton) is the better choice for President, given the remaining options. It is okay if they want to debate their reasons for why they believe this to be so. But when there is seemingly a moral imperative expressed that any good Christian needs to vote for Trump (or Clinton), then we have a problem. This is not a race between Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler. The delineation between the two choices is far from glaringly obvious. When one choice is demanded and accompanied by guilt trips, the line is crossed from living in exile and trying to do our best to honor God in our land to that of political idolatry.
Lord, help us to guard against such.