I'm not starting this blog with "3 things you need to know before you vote". I like to think you are pretty smarted and can think on your own. I simply want to present some of my own ideas concerning this election cycle to help you as you think.
This election cycle is historic in more ways than one. We have two candidates that will be firsts: a female candidate who is truly viable and a businessman running as a conservative who just a few years ago was a liberal. But the first I want to discuss is that this is the first time that a good number of Americans wants neither one. So the question is, “How do I vote in an election where I find both major candidates undesirable”?
The first thing we need to do is determine 2 things: What is the foundation of government and what is government’s purpose.
Human government is not a human construct. God Himself gave us government to serve as His tool. Romans 13:4 declares that government is given by God (notice I did NOT say all government everywhere, and I’ll explain that distinction in a moment). God is the ultimate author of human governmental structures.
The second thing we need to determine is equally important. The WHY of government. So why did God give us government? Was it:
- To provide all things for all people?
- To control people, to make them stay in line?
- To make everyone on equal footing?
- To make people religious, or irreligious?
There is actually an answer for this found in the New Testament.
4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
There are two specific functions of government that are positive and negative. Positively, the government promotes and rewards the good. Now we can have a real discussion about what the good is, but the government has the role of promoting that. Negatively, the government is to punish evil. Any government that fails these two duties is not God’s governmental structure.
Listen to the preamble of the Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Sounds pretty close to the biblical ideal, no?
One further thing we need to get straight is who under God is our ultimate authoriry, or king. The king is the one who has to appeal to no higher human agency for authority. The buck stops with the king, and he bows or submits to no one. Who is that in America? It certainly isn’t the President, it IS the Constitution. Consider the presidential oath of office:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
This oath reminds us of two things: #1 the President is not a king, he does not have the authority to do as he/she wishes. The Constitution is the King of this republic. #2 The oath clearly gives the presidential job description. He isn’t a job creator in chief, public policy creator in chief nor the budget creator in chief. His/her job is exactly as stated; to be sure the Constitution is kept supreme and adhered to. That is it.
If we keep that job description in view, it will help us make more informed decisions
Now, what happens when we are faced with two really bad options. We will do one of three things;
Not vote at all
Vote for someone other than the two major candidates OR
Vote for the one who is likely to do a better job, or not mess things up so bad.
All of these positions have pro’s and cons. Let us look at each
A- Not voting
The pro to this position is that you cannot be held liable in any way, theoretically when the president does something dumb. You are free and clear of being the cause.
The con is that it doesn’t matter if you voted or not, the president who does something stupid is still YOUR president. Not voting does not get you out of being governed.
B- Voting for someone other than the two major candidates.
Pros- You did vote and you did choose. You can say you were part of a movement to make America more than a 2 party system (for all you who think that a 3rd or 4th party will fix our system, just look at Europe, but I digress). You can hold your head up and say that you did NOT endorse or approve of a horrible choice.
Con- Your candidate will lose, and you knew thiswhen making that choice. You sacrificed some of your freedom and the freedom of others to make your point. You are gambling on a losing bet. Statistics are hard things.
C- Voting for the least icky candidate.
Con- You really feel horrible about voting, you had to run home and take a shower because you felt so dirty. It was a struggle but you did it, and aren’t proud of it .
Pro- You chose to use your vote not as an endorsement, but a steering mechanism. You chose not to sit by and allow the person who would do the most damage get elected. You voted out of sheer damage control.
“When faced with two evils, choose neither” is a quote attributed to the great English Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. It has been used often in this election cycle as people have argued that a Christian should not vote for evil period.
The problem is that EVERY election is the choice between evil. Even George Bush supported abortion under some very narrow margins. But Christians overwhelmingly voted for him as opposed to John Kerry. Bottom line is that if you are looking for a candidate whose views line right up with your, you won’t find him/her. You cannot use this line of reasoning.
So, what shall we do? Look at two things:
What is the President’s job? (Hint- Constitution)
Looking at the pros/cons, how can I help ensure that will happen the best?
And by the way, there are rumors afloat the Clarence Thomas will step down off the Supreme Court very soon, so the next President will appoint his replacement. The balance of power in the SCOTUS is very much at stake for the next 20-30 years. Keep that in mind.