Election 2012

Who should you vote for in this election?

Let’s start with the basics.

Not Obama
1. He supports and pushes for abortion on demand, with no restrictions. With his priorities, it’s easier for a child to get a morning after abortion pill from school than a Tylenol. This alone rules him out, though there is plenty more.
2. He supports the normalization of homosexuality in our culture, and the legal redefinition of marriage that comes with it. The culture of our armed forces is at stake, for instance.
3. He does not support religious freedom. At home, Obamacare forces private business owners and non-profits to provide abortifacient drugs to their employees, regardless of religious convictions against it. Abroad, he is more interested in mollifying Islamists than insisting they not allow the persecution of their people.
4. He is a tax and spend liberal. He couches it in nice language: don’t we want to invest, provide, and care for various people? It’s all veiled language for spending more taxpayer money on things the constitution has not put under the purview of the federal government. Unbelievably, he wants government to have a bigger role than it already does in our land.

Not the Libertarians
They are on the wrong side of the culture war, shrugging at abortion and the redefinition of marriage. They believe religious neutrality is possible at the government level, but they are wrong. Some policy has to be made on these issues, and they don’t push for the right ones.

Not the Constitution party
Their candidate is Virgil Goode. Although I agree with his positions the most, with less than 1% support of voters he doesn’t have a chance of winning. (I’ll come back to this.)

Why not Romney?
He’s Mormon. Every presidential candidate probably since Jefferson has been a professing Christian (assumption, there – may be wrong). It was a big deal when JFK ran, a Catholic and not a Protestant. Biblically, the argument goes, in Exodus 18:21 God told Moses to install as civil judges and rulers “men who fear God.” Mormons do not worship the same God that Christians do, though they co-opt much of the language. Christian supporters of Romney tend to justify their support by minimizing the Mormon factor, reckoning it not a cult but a weird denomination of Christianity. It is NOT just wacky Christianity. But I’ve already heard this argument offered, so people can feel okay to vote for Romney. This is a good reason to NOT support Romney!
He’s a moderate. He’s done his share of flip flopping, and doesn’t push too hard in the values arena of politics. He’s no Reagan visionary for smaller government and more free enterprise, which I’m looking for. He seldom appeals to that tea party-ish group for which I have sympathies.

Why Romney?
So am I not voting, or what? In spite of the above, I will be voting for Romney, and here is why.

Mormonism – Romney is a devout Mormon, no holds barred. There’s no point in denying this. American Christians have for so long had only Christian candidates running that we have not had to think about this, and it’s throwing us for a loop. Fact: it is legitimate in principle for a Christian to vote and support for public office a candidate who is not a Christian. This happens to Christians all the time in other democratic nations. They are not sinning to vote for one atheist or secularist over another. As one wit put it, our choice this time is between a man who thinks he will become a god, and one who thinks he already is one. We have been spoiled with our Christian-veneer culture, and now that it’s gone we are dismayed. Our nation’s slide into unbelief has already occurred, and as usual the church is behind the curve in noticing what is going on. We live in Babylon, culturally speaking. Daniel was not disobedient to serve in the administration of three pagan kings, and neither are we to vote for a competent pagan instead of a dangerous one.

What about Exodus 18:21? Isn’t it always wrong to vote for a man who does not fear the true God? Theologically, God was regulating the nation of Israel, which was politically a Theocracy directly formed by Him, with Moses the sole supreme court judge. It is not clear to me that nations of the world today are called to obey the civil law in the Pentateuch in the same way that Israel was. However, national laws ought to reflect the “general equity” of the law, as Westminster puts it. But the extent to which this can practically be done will depend on how Christianized the culture has become. We don't "sit this one out," until we have an ideal candidate. What the ideal Christian state should look like, will have to wait for another time, but Christians should vote for the viable candidate that most reflects competent, moral and Biblical positions.

Viable? What does that mean? Politics is the art of the possible. Every four years in our system it comes down to two tickets. This year all the third party candidates combined have the support of about 7% of voters so far. Politics is war. Your vote is not for Sun-Tzu’s principles of war-fighting versus Clausewitz’s, in the abstract. Your vote is a bullet fired into the fray. It is one hand on the rope in a cultural tug-of-war. You don’t need to (I would argue you may not) withhold firing or tugging until you know the commander-in-chief’s piety and principles are pure. You DO need to know that the bad guys are really bad guys, which I covered in the first paragraph.

Viability involves circumstances. In the 2012 presidential election, the Constitution party candidate Virgil Goode is expected to get nearly 10% of the vote in Virginia. I will vote in Virginia, and Goode represents my views more than Romney does. Goode is well known and popular in the southwest of the state. There is a good chance this will hand Obama the state of Virginia, which is one of the handful of critical swing states in play in the nation. This is a well-known phenomenon: Nader cost Gore the election to Bush, Jr. in 2000. Perot cost Bush, Sr. the 1996 election to Clinton. The 2012 election is also close. I’m more interested in helping Romney beat Obama, than I am in “making a statement” with my principled vote which gives Obama an advantage over the only guy who can beat him. Viability is part of the definition of the ideal candidate, which rules out my otherwise ideal third party choice.

I also think it is a mistake to assert that God honors the principled vote over the strategic one. Several stories in Scripture show God blessing strategic action when the culture war is going against you – the Hebrew midwives, for one.

This position is often rejected as compromising one’s principles. It can be wrong to support the “lesser of two evils,” when that candidate’s policies are truly evil and unbiblical. But that’s just what we are debating: when is a candidate worthy of our vote? Are Romney’s positions sufficiently Biblical and constitutional to vote for him? The clichés against lesser of two evils and voting your conscience beg this question, they assume the answer is no, without making any actual case for the negative position. If I think the answer is “Yes,” and I vote for Romney, I’m not necessarily sinning. This is a conscience issue. Some argue that a candidate must oppose all abortion without exception before he gets a Christian vote. Others argue that we should vote for the viable candidate who most opposes abortion. The right answer is unclear and people should not go against their conscience. God does not require me to vote for the candidate whose views most closely resemble my views, if viability of candidates makes a strategic difference. It is not only the third party voter who “votes his conscience.” This phrase implies that the Republican voter is voting against his conscience and principles, but he is not, necessarily. He understands that it can be more effective to be a co-belligerent in a larger group than to set up a new, purer fringe party. He is choosing to fire his gun, to pull on the rope, where the battle is, instead of where he wants to and where no one is looking. SHOULD the battle be there? Yes, and God willing it will be one day. But it isn’t today.

This position is also rejected as reflecting the fear of man. Why faithlessly react in response to where the culture is, instead of how God wants us to?. Will we do anything to keep a bad guy out of office? This view is rejecting prudence as much as fear of man. The same argument can be used against buying insurance. “Don’t you know God says in the Bible that He will provide for us? Insurance is lack of faith!” No, there are earthly means of provision God has given us, which it is foolish and even tempting God for us to not employ. Voting is one of them. It is not lack of faith to vote to get Obama out of office because you fear for our country at the prospect of another four years of his regime.

This position is also rejected by arguing that there is no real difference between the major parties. One wants to drive off the cliff at 80 miles an hour, and the other wants to go 60. To continue the analogy, and shape it to reality:
-          it isn’t a cliff, but a ditch. One president cannot smash a country beyond repair killing everyone in the car, given our system of checks and balances. We can get out of the ditch, and back on the road at any point, by God’s grace granting us repentance as a nation.
-          the third party you prefer is in the back seat, nowhere near the brakes or wheel, and no one in the car is listening to him. I’m happy to support the guy right next to the driver who can actually grab the wheel and hit the brakes for right now. A vote is a short term measure, not long term. If we can gain grassroots support to move a better candidate into the “on deck” position to take the wheel next time, great. But right now it’s Obama or Romney. Your vote for a third guy will not be noticed for the future.
I do agree that the Republican party is sliding left, with the whole country. But it’s an exaggeration to say they are identical.

To summarize:
1. Professing Christians who vote for Obama are acting against God’s will. There, I said it.
2. Christians who vote libertarian are confused and ideologically overzealous for a smaller government. I can tolerate that to a degree.
3. Christians who vote Constitution party I respect, though I have to bite my tongue to not chide them for throwing their vote away, for that really is what they are doing, regardless of the “rightness” of the positions.
4. Christians who vote for Romney should remember that they are co-belligerents with him, not ideological allies, in an important culture war. This war is waged far more by evangelism and persuasion than by elections.

Please go vote Tuesday!

1 comment:

  1. Steve,

    One quick jab before this one is over…

    1. Not Obama. 4x Yes!
    2. Not Libertarians. You mean, unless they are one of the only two "viable" candidates running against a more liberal Democrat, don't you? Come now, let's be consistent.
    3. Who is talking about serving in a Pagan administration? Of coarse we can, and do do (no pun intended) that. This is not the same as voting FOR the Pagan. Do you seriously believe that Daniel, or the Three that went into the furnace, would have voted for the lesser of the two Pagans, if they had the chance? Think about that one before you answer.
    4. So, what is the "general equity" of…choose Godly leaders? That really isn't that difficult, is it?
    5. Who says I am "sitting this one out". I believe that consistent, principled votes are far more effective "bullets into the fray," if we would have the courage to be consistent and work to unify the Church's voice in the long run, instead of settling for the scraps from the RNC table, remaining perpetually irrelevant. I think it is the nose-pinching Romney supporters who are actually waiting for the "perfect [read: viable] candidate". What do the polls have to say in order to vote for a candidate and party that represents "99%" of what we really need, biblically? 25%? 35%? 50%? That's just the thing with pragmatism. It's like nailing jello to the wall.
    6. What in the world do the Hebrew midwives saving babies, who were certainly acting in Christian principle (thou shalt not kill) over human pragmatism (personal survival)…or "strategic action," whatever that means, have to do with supporting a vote for Romney? I can't help but cringe at the irony of that bad example.
    7. Finally, and because I like to end on #7, while I certainly agree that those of us who refuse to vote for Romney should not condemn our fellow Christians who are, assuming the Romney-voters believe they are voting biblically, isn't the reverse also true? I can assure you that I am voting my conscience, based exclusively on my Christian convictions, and based on my understanding of Scripture. So, no need for any pretend-to-bite-my-tongue-but-actually-chide-you comments…oops, too late.

    Sorry, but this position still smells like chicken poo to me.

    With Christian love, and a sarcastic wink…

    His Will be done,
    Jason Lollar