The Immorality of Not Voting

This is a very unusual presidential election. In many ways it seems as if the candidates are the least likely individuals that each party could possibly find.

One individual brings a long stream of controversial episodes to the table. The most recent of these is the handling of classified information in such a way that made it more accessible to the Russians and Chinese than the US government officials who subpoenaed it.

The other is a brash attention seeking businessman who also has a history that generally would not be called suitable for politics.  This candidate subjects the American people to an outlandish set of promises as to what will be changed under their guidance, and how fast.

For many Christians, the question has become, how can I vote for either candidate in good conscience? I am bothered by how many of my friends in ministry have decided that there is no way to cast a moral vote this election year.

To these individuals I ask this question, have you considered the immorality of not voting? Not voting strikes me as the equivalent of folding your arms, sitting back in your chairs, and saying to the secular society around us – you made this mess, now you fix it.  Lowering that to a more common denominator, it is Christianity packing up their toys and going home.

I believe that a part of our Christian living is to be responsible citizens in our society. In this society that means praying for our president. In this society that means casting a vote to try and bring in the best possible candidate.  In the current election, as in all recent elections this includes two primary parties with opposing views as to how the country should move forward.

I disagree with the platform of one of those parties in several major ways.  I agree with the platform of the other in several major ways.  I will vote.  I will vote for a candidate whom I do not totally trust fulfill their promises, or even to keep the priorities spelled out in the platform.  I will cast this vote because voting for the other would support someone guaranteed to go in the wrong direction. And I will not abstain from voting because to me, that is the most immoral choice.

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Voter Disillusionment

Am I the only one that thinks this is the craziest election year ever?

On the Democratic side there are two candidates.  One of whom would normally be un-electable because he advocates socialism.  The other of whom has violated the law and endangered national security.  But despite the obvious disqualifying factors of these two candidates, the Democratic Party is confidently moving ahead with the process of choosing between their two contenders.

On the Republican side, the story is remarkably similar.  One candidate would normally be considered un-electable because of his wild eyed statements about, well, everybody.  Not only that, but he seems to change his stand on key issues rather frequently.  Another candidate has a knack for not pleasing anybody.  He is disliked by moderates, for being too conservative and disliked by conservatives for being too moderate.  There is a third candidate for Republican’s, but nobody I know understands why there is a third candidate. And yet surprisingly few people are pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.

It seems like every election year there is a contemplative period as the primaries wind down and before a candidate is selected, a time when all of America gasps in amazement and asks, “Is this really the best we could do?”

But this year sets a new record in the ‘What were they thinking?’ category. So much so, that I really wonder what the average voter is going to do.

Most voters will be forced to vote for a candidate they don’t like, but they still earned the vote by being the least objectionable option. Yet these same voters likely have some absolutes. Something they believe so strongly, something they find so offensive, that they would never vote for a candidate that crosses those absolutes.

So what will happen when the majority of voters identify that every viable candidate has not only crossed the line of their absolutes, but have done so as flagrantly as possible? I don’t know. We will all find out together, come November.

The Candidate Blues

It has been a while since I have posted on this blog.  The reason for that is two fold. First I am a full-time pastor. Second I have felt called to start a men’s retreat for churches in my denomination in my state. But I expect as time moves along I will post a little more.  Now on to today’s topic.

One statement I have heard frighteningly often is that after the candidates for each party are resolved, there will not be a candidate on the ballot that is supportable. The two choices will be so bad, that the best option is to not vote rather than to vote for one of the options.

I understand what the individuals mean, of course. I watched the first debate with surprise realizing that I could enthusiastically support several of the candidates. Mostly I am referring to those who are gone now.  As I see it, Donald Trump is quite likely to become a nominee, and if you have seen my previous posts you know that I see him as having all the greatest weaknesses that Obama had.

Despite this, I will vote for him in the final election if he becomes the candidate. It is not unusual that voting for me is an experience of choosing the lesser of two evils. Why should this year be any different?  But if I choose to not vote at all I would be making several mistakes. First I would be giving away a right that this country has fought for. I refuse to dishonor my dad who served a long career in the army, and every other person who has risked their life to earn me this right.  Second I would be handing the mantle of leadership to someone who would be far worse in my estimation.

I get it when I hear there is an anger in our country. I get it when I hear that people don’t believe their vote counts. I get it when people say that politicians are corrupt. But the answer to all of these things is in the political process. If we had been more faithful earlier on in the process, then the candidates would more accurately reflect our values.  Third I would be a part of moving this country into the apathy that empowers others to rule over us instead of being accountable to us.

Voting is both the foundation and the pinnacle of this political process. It is the pinnacle because voting is our greatest privilege, it is the foundation because not voting is the quickest route to destroying our country.

A House Divided

Recently there was a debate in which MSNBC made mistakes such as accusing Dr. Ben Carson of business connections that did not exist and suggested other candidates should withdraw or resign. The candidates did what we hope politicians can do, point out the errors and confront them with truth.

A few days later President Obama, branded them as weak. Unable to handle MSNBC moderators.

Not long after that Democratic candidates backed out of a debate which was going to be partially sponsored by Fox News. While the initial reports I saw seemed to indicate this action was over comments made by Fox chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. I notice that many of the news outlets I researched did not connect it to Ailes comments, and the Democrats failed to define exactly what was said that crossed the line. But either way it was noted that Fox news might be biased against Democrats.

What I think is most important to point out is that many of those involved in the process, both politicians and news outlets, are furthering the gap in America.

The obvious result of dividing America will be that we no longer stand united. This point should be of more concern to Americans than demonizing our opponents. Jesus said it, Abraham Lincoln quoted it, and it’s still true, “A house divided cannot stand.”

Donald Trump as President

I have been watching the rise of Donald Trump’s positioning in the polls with a growing sense of dread.

Many people see him as the cure for all that ails America. I don’t. In fact, I see him as having the same problems we have with our current president. Although I come a lot closer to agreeing with him on the positions he is espousing than I have with President Obama, I see him as having the same weaknesses of methodology, which I do not want to see in the white house again.

First, I suspect that what he verbalizes as his views are mostly for the sake of getting elected. He knows how to say what the listeners want to hear. What he actually will seek to accomplish after being elected, may or may not be what he says he is going to do.

Second, I suspect that he will work around opponents rather than seeking to negotiate or compromise with them. Predictably he will do this in two fronts. Publically he will demonize his political opponents. This is made easier by the press. Since media outlets are as divided as political parties, the deceit of the tactic is never brought to light and the claims are dismissed by supporters as political rancor. While this will get things done, it will also continue to divide America.

Less publically I expect he will ignore the normal processes of government and continue expanding the power of the presidency. We don’t need an executive officer who believes he can lead the country through presidential proclamations.

We need to return to legislation and work through the processes defined in the constitution. Seen in this light, and recognizing that this is the character the candidate has presented thus far, I believe he is not the solution to our problems but will serve as the continuation of them.

My Presidential Wish List

Election season, 2016 has begun. A couple of candidates have now officially thrown their hat in the ring and we are officially off and running. It makes me think, what do I want in a candidate? What kind of a person would I vote for?

I want to vote for someone with morality. Someone who knows the difference between right and wrong and lives it both in public and in private. I don’t want to vote for someone whose ethics are being shaped by the pursuit of votes or by the whims of public opinion. I want them to have a concept of right living that is guided by a higher standard than current trends.

I wouldn’t vote for someone who is obviously going to further divide the country. Of course, it’s hard to tell who that will be. The current president spoke a good game of creating unity, but he apparently expected everyone to come to his viewpoint in order to experience that cohesiveness. I don’t want to vote for an idealist who cannot compromise without feeling he has corrupted his own perfect plans.

I want to vote for someone who patriotically loves this country. Someone who sees the founding documents as important and worth honoring. Someone who will not ignore the rest of the world, but will never prioritize world issues above the needs of our own citizenry. I want to vote for someone who understands US Government, not for the purpose of working around the limits and balance of power, but who will work to guarantee these boundaries as a safeguard for our future freedoms.

I don’t want to vote for someone with no track record or business experience. It seems to me that the oval office is one of those jobs that is too important to take a ‘learn as you go’ approach. I don’t want to try and figure out their skills purely from their speaking ability. I don’t really want to vote for a career politician, but would prefer a person who has chosen to serve for a time based on what they have to offer. Career politicians remain in the mix by protecting themselves, while public servants feel a freedom to do what is right without concern for how it affects their careers.

I want to vote for someone who can understand the economic world we live in and still create jobs in this country. Some jobs are being created but by eliminating manufacturing we have limited ourselves to job creation in service industries and entrepreneurship. In other words, the jobs we currently create are only for the best educated and qualified or are so low paying they cannot support the workers life needs. The jobs which form the historic middle class have been either priced out, or regulated out, of this country.

This is not a complete list. I will think of other qualifications as I give it more time. Unfortunately I already have doubts that my list will be met by any candidate, and even more doubts that if they are, the media will find these details important enough to report upon.