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.

Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Antonin ScaliaThe death of Antonin Scalia this past week was not just sad news, it was scary news.

Scalia was a strong personality who sat firmly on the conservative side of the court. If President Obama succeeds in getting a nominee appointed to the court it will have a disastrous result in future decisions such as abortion, immigration, and gun control. But I doubt any of these would be the worst outcome of this turn of events.

The worst consequence would be in how the courts interpret the constitution. We have already seen a trend toward redefinition. But with the majority of justices moving in this direction we will see every one of our freedoms reduced to the solidity of Jello. Freedom of religion will be replaced by freedom of gender identity. (That is already moving foreward.) Freedom of the press will be replaced by a puppet media that promotes viewpoints instead of reports facts. (Oops, that one is already in the works, too.) Freedom of speech and the right to vote will be crippled first with poor information and later by constraints put into place to protect specific peoples. This will be closely associated with similar restrictions being put upon the right to assemble.

Scalia addressed this transition, already taking place, rather colorfully saying, “The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

Prior to that Abraham Lincoln put it this way, “The people—the people—are the rightful masters of both the congresses, and courts—not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.”

Trump as Primaries Approach

One bit of news, I have found hopeful in the presidential race, has been that Trump is no longer leading republicans in Iowa.

I don’t want Donald Trump to be president because I believe a man’s character is more important than his policies. As it happens I seldom disagree with his policies, but I strongly disagree with his way of operating.

(See my blogpost on why I don’t want Donald Trump for President here.)

The best thing that could happen in America would be for us to learn from the success of the Trump campaign, but have someone else come forward to win the republican nomination and then the presidency. I have long expected that most of the Trump supporters know he would not make a good president, and will switch their allegiance as push comes to shove.

Learning the lessons means admitting that a great deal of people in this country, and especially those who are voting republican, want to see us return to a constitutional, conservative, and common sense approach to governing. Throw political correctness out the window, and let’s set about fixing the mess we are in—bring back jobs, secure our borders, and return to constitutional checks and balances.

The worst thing that could happen in America would be for Donald Trump to lose the not, turn independent and then hand the election to the democrats.

Movies, Courage, and Foolish Talk

In late November, after the Paris terror attacks, French Ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud had a bee in his bonnet based on a tweet by Donald Trump, who had said that the attacks were enabled by the gun control laws in France. Asked to respond on Fox News he said, “Imagine a theater hall and suddenly people enter with machine guns and are really killing people … It is only in the movies someone is using his gun to defend himself.”

As an American, who has never been to France, I am not qualified to speak for the French people. I assume that the ambassador knows his people and their character better than I do. Although I would like to remind the ambassador of something.

Back in mid-August three American young men traveling in France were on a train when another mass shooting started. These men acted, attacking and subduing the attacker, one can only guess how many lives they saved.

These individuals were not in a movie. But they took courageous action to save themselves and others. Yes, I know that they did it without firearms. I suspect the courage they applied in their situation was even greater than if they had firearms.

It’s time to set aside the hysteria over weapons. The only deterrent to the type of attacks we are seeing right now, is the understanding that people have the right and will use the right to defend themselves. I have never been in a gunfight. I can’t imagine what it is like. But I am sure it is more challenging for the attacker if they expect to someone to shoot back. What is our other option? To bring a knife to a gunfight?

Syrian Refugees

One of the political footballs right now is the question of what to do with Syrian Refugees. Some people say we should absolutely not allow them into the United States. Others say that attitude is Islamophobic and Americans should always embrace immigration. The one side points out that some of the terrorists in Paris had come in as Syrian refugees, and possibly the same thing would happen here. The other side believes our vetting process will catch any possible trouble makers.

Both sides of this discussion have invoked a rhetoric of extremes. For example, many have questioned why we would spend resources on these individuals while we have so many problems of our own that are inadequately addressed. One such example has been the cry to not house a single Syrian refugee until every homeless veteran has been sheltered. Although this is an apples to oranges comparison it is a set of priorities I would agree with. Still the reality of government is they do not have the luxury of working on one thing at a time, finishing up higher priorities before working on lower priorities would never work. Government inherently attacks some problems that will never be completely solved.

Those in favor of bringing in refugees also have their rhetoric of extremes. The worst of these, at least in my mind, was hearing Hillary Clinton say “Islam has nothing to do with terrorism.” I couldn’t believe she said those words. History argues strongly against her on that point, as does the Koran.

But that is what happens in politics today. No one listens to reasonable discussion, yet they care deeply about the topics so they resort to shouts, extreme statements, and Facebook memes. This lack of real investigative reporting, genuine information, and open discussion is what is really destroying America.

It will probably surprise most people who know me that I am in favor of bringing in carefully vetted families of Syrian refugees with young children. Yes, I really would limit it to husbands and wives with young children. Unfortunately, I do not believe either that our government will adequately background check these immigrants or that they will limit it to families as I have described. For these two reasons I would stand opposed, but if we would follow these two limitations then I can see several benefits of taking part.

In no particular order here are my reasons. The Syrian refugee crisis is the largest since World War 2, according to the news. Assuming this is not some of the persuasive misinformation put out by the media, it only makes sense that the world leader, the United States, would lead in alleviating the crisis. Also remember that leaving families in the situation tends to raise up new radicals. Islam is inherently violent towards non-Moslems, and in a place of warfare and oppression young men tend to grow up angry. Finally I note that in the United States these individuals will have the most likelihood of understanding the greater rule of law. I am assuming we will not be so foolish as to grant them pockets of sharia law. When exposed to a better way, most people will recognize it and accept it. In fact, I believe more Moslems than ever before are converting to genuine Christianity. This by itself is a powerful reason to allow the ones who are not already hard core opposed to come here, where they will be in contact with Christians and a society shaped by a culture very different than their homeland.