How do you determine who to vote for or do you not vote at all?

My friend Anne posted a heartfelt question on Facebook today and instead of writing a simple comment, I figured I would vomit out my answer on my much neglected blog.

“Let’s say you vote for your convictions, principles, and values when it comes to your President, your Senators, etc. Let’s just say that no candidate truly expresses your values, but they do profess (and who knows what is just talk and what is true) some things that you do agree with. They just may not be of the character you would hope for – they may not be the perfect expression of all that you hold as valuable and dear.

Let’s just say that NONE of them do so.

How do you determine who to vote for or do you not vote at all?”

Most people I know are struggling with this decision just like Annie!  To me it is not an option to not vote so … how do I decide when no candidate fits the perfect ideal?

Here is the process that I am trying to sort through.

Primary Considerations

  • Is the candidate trustworthy? The rest of this is moot since we cannot honestly answer the rest of these questions.
  • What key issues and challenges will the next chief executive face?
  • What is the candidate’s view on those issues AND would they have the authority to execute or influence the government regarding those issues? (If a candidate has an off-the-wall idea that could never be enacted, it is not an issue)
  • How does the candidate’s views on those issues line up with the things I feel are core values for a “just” society?
  • Is the candidate an effective leader and manager? Can he/she get things done?
  • Would the candidate be a respected leader on the world stage?

Secondary Considerations (What if they fail the primary considerations)

  • Is there an issue that is a game changer for me? (for many, a pro-life/pro-choice stance or their stand on same sex marriage is a game changer)
  • Is the candidate even keeled and reasonable? (Not a hot-head or mean) (Unfortunately, the only even keeled guy I have seen probably won’t make it through the primaries)
  • This will sound awful, but if I can find no good characteristics in the candidates, then maybe I should vote for the one that is least likely to bring about change. This puts the onus on Congress (which might be even scarier).

I have tried to wean out my opinions in my little checklist.   I don’t intend on publically backing a candidate because quite honestly, I am not as certain of anything once was.  There is a tremendous freedom in uncertainty.  Releasing faith from that box is quite empowering and allows me to see a God that is much bigger than I ever imagined.  In the case of politics, it allows me to be able to see past candidates and look instead to the mission set before me.

“I look to the hills! Where will I find help? It will come from the Lord, who created heaven and earth”. (Psalm 121:1,2 CEV)

The anger and bitterness that prevails in our nation is reflected in the candidates that appear to be succeeding.  What is the driving force of this anger? I have some ideas…

A portion of our population is dropping farther and farther behind. There are many reasons for this (not just laziness and victim mentality).  Generational poverty caused by centuries of racism, rapidly changing economic structures that have left working class people without societal worth, and the resulting quick fix programs, have left them slaves to government programs, addictions, or crime.

What about the middle class? Why are they so angry?  In our arrogance we bought into the consumerism peddled to us and became slaves to our jobs, our credit rating, and our material possessions.  (We bought into the American Dream)  We became intoxicated with a false sense of security.  Cast as superior to the victim class we were empowered and felt like the movers and shakers of society.  Unfortunately this left us vulnerable to the puppet strings of the drivers of the economy.  What happens when the puppet master revokes power and it all comes toppling down?  Suddenly your values are no longer the mainstream of society and your social standing begins to slide. White, middle class, Christians unexpectedly have lost their grip on the reigns of society resulting in confusion, depression, defensiveness, anger and bitterness.

The oppressor has worked a masterful plan to divide and conquer.  We are goaded into battle against the powerless and become a part of a plan to enslave an entire society.   As long as we refuse to lock arms with the weak and continue to side with the power brokers, we will continue to find ourselves powerless to take dominion over the Kingdom.

If we continue to buy into the narrative of anger and bitterness, we will continue to be rewarded with candidates that reflect our anger and bitterness.

It is up to us to make changes to society.  It is not going to be easy and it won’t happen overnight.

It may cost us:

  • We may have to give up liberties that we feel are our “rights.”
  • We may have to put away our sword.
  • We may have to grieve sin (ours and those of others) instead of hating it.
  • We may have to give up our status.
  • We may have to give up our right to be right.
  • We may have to place a priority on love in the face of hate.
  • We may have to pick up a cross and laydown our lives for our nation.
  • We may have to give up our nation for the sake of Christ.

Let love be your only debt! If you love others, you have done all that the Law demands.  In the Law there are many commands, such as, “Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not want what belongs to others.” But all of these are summed up in the command that says, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” No one who loves others will harm them. So love is all that the Law demands. (Rom 13:8-10)

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