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Saturday, March 05, 2016

3 Wrong Ways of Thinking about Voting

As more and more primary results have emerged, we are getting a clearer hint of who our final choices might be. I have to say I am not excited. (For those not paying attention, that is a vast understatement.) Given the discussions earlier about Christians and voting as well as the emerging (poor) options we are getting, I thought I should address the question again. Oh, no, not "Should we vote or not?" I'm not going to answer that for you. These are just some common errors to avoid.

1. "There are things about that candidate that I don't like."

It is easy to look at a candidate and find things you don't like. "He's too weak/harsh on immigration." "She's too ... female." (Trust me; there are plenty of people, male and female, who think that way.) "He's a blowhard." "He's a socialist." On and on. What we need to avoid is thinking that we might find a good candidate. Time to wake up. There is no perfect candidate ... ever. I find it odd that I'd have to say this, but I think there are some actually thinking there could be or should be some really good candidate. Not gonna to happen. Do we vote for the lesser of two evils? Always. Because all candidates, being human, are evil to some degree. Don't forget it.

2. "Just let God handle it."

This error shows up in degrees. The farthest out is fatalism. "God will do whatever He wants to do. I have nothing to say about it." Further in from that but still mistaken is the "My vote doesn't count" line of thinking. Consider. Only God can change a heart, yet He calls us to share the Gospel. Both the "God will do whatever He wants to do" and the "My words don't count" kinds of mindsets would fit, but we're still called to participate, so we must.

In the same way, we are called to participate in what God is doing. We are called to be concerned for our neighbors (Matt 22:39), our nation (Jer 29:7). We need to find out how that works itself out, but ignoring it is not the answer.

3. "If we don't elect the right person, we're sunk."

I hear this repeated in both the secular and the Christian realms. Usually it includes some special concern, like, "The next president will be appointing one or two (or more) Supreme Court justices, so we'd better get a conservative in there." As if getting a conservative in there will result in better appointments for judges. History denies this proposition. More to the point, however, is the extent to which this view is the reverse of the "Just let God handle it" view. The suggestion is that we've got to get this done and get it done right and if we don't we will suffer. In the former error, we have nothing to do with it. In this one, it's all on us.

Here's the truth. God is never not in control (Rom 13:1). He's not up there wringing His hands, hoping against hope that we Christians do the right thing and vote in the right guy (or gal) or we're in deep trouble. America will surely get the president we deserve, and, disaster or only near disaster, that will be a good thing. America may no longer believe it, but Christians should still believe "In God we trust."


David said...

What if I want neither candidate? Not looking at these lesser of two evils, they are both horrible. I can't even look at "my" candidate and say, "you're bad but at least there are some things we agree on". I look at "my" candidate and think, "I might just vote for the other party just so you don't get in." When my options are really bad or really bad, I can't even vote for one. Am I still going to be called a sinner for "voting" my conscience by not voting?

Stan said...

Well, I did say, "We are called to be concerned for our neighbors (Matt 22:39), our nation (Jer 29:7). We need to find out how that works itself out ..." While I'm pretty sure that it is a Christian obligation to vote, I think it would be mindless to say, "It is a Christian obligation to vote ... the Republican presidential nominee." I'm not at all sure that "how wthat works itself out" may not include voting for a third party or even a write in. (There have actually been people elected as both third party and write ins.)

I think, if you're honest, you'll admit that the vast majority of people who don't vote don't do so as a matter of conscience. Other things -- laziness, apathy, perhaps even rebellion -- are far more prevalent. I have never actually known a person who would say, "It would be wrong of me to vote ... at all."

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I find nothing wrong with voting for the "lesser of two evils," because that is the only way we can slow the progress of evil.

I believe when it comes to the primaries we have to chose very wisely for the very best candidate. But when it comes to the "finals," it is inconceivable to me how any Christian could ever vote for a member of the DemoKrat party because their party platform is for all that is unholy, e.g., theft (redistribution of wealth), promotion of sexual immorality, promotion of homosexuality specifically, promotion of abortion, promotion of Islam, etc.

Stan said...

At some point it becomes difficult to tell the "lesser of two evils". I agree I cannot fathom how a genuine believer could vote for the Democrat candidate, given the Democrat plank, but I have growing concerns that our current choices aren't any better.

Marshall Art said...

Your post seems to mirror much of what I had said the last time we went around on this.

I do think that there is enough difference remaining between the two parties that justifies a Christian defaulting to the GOP. While a given candidate might be the worst possible GOP nominee (think Trump), we know just how bad it would get with the Dem candidate winning the day. That's pretty much a given seeing as how right off the bat they are decidedly counter-Christian on all the social issues, and not much better with regards to economics or defense.

The real question is just how far astray from principle is the GOP candidate. I would guess (not much of a guess, really) that Trump would be far enough astray that to not oppose him during the primaries is to leave us with two left-wing choices later on.

I would also say that I don't know just how perfect a candidate must be before I'm no longer bored with talk of imperfection in the candidates and how they are all so poor. That's all a load and it doesn't impress. Maybe when Jesus runs for office I won't have to hear it anymore. Until then...please spare me.

Stan said...

Marshall, there appears to be only one "evil" in the political world for you -- "left-wing". I would submit that there are other equally bad possibilities. I'm sure, given a mere moment of reflection, that you would agree that a "right-wing Muslim" option would be both neither "left-wing" nor "better than Hillary". (Just an example.)

I am still unconvinced that the only right and proper (read "non-sinful") choice for Christians in any given election is to vote and to vote only for the GOP candidate no matter what. You continue to blindly refer to the choice as either "vote for GOP" or "not a perfect candidate". I have yet to meet a thinking individual who is holding out for "a perfect candidate". The question to me in this election cycle is whether or not I can determine the "lesser of two evils" in choosing between a Hillary-or-Sanders versus Trump election.

My aim in this post was to point out errors in thinking. I did decry the "perfect candidate" idea as well as the "do nothing" approach, but if you read it carefully I did not require that a non-vote was a sin. (Hint: There is a specific phrase I put in that piece to cover that.)

David said...

To me, this election is not the lesser of two evils, but just two different types of evil. Like it was said in Lethal Weapon 3, "Not better, just different." I don't see one as being slightly better than the other. I see them both equally bad, just bad in different areas. Neither one is going to be good for this country, and neither one is going to be better for this country than the other.

Stan said...

David, let me see if I understand what you're saying (in connection with the post). It appears as if you're saying that "There are things about that candidate that I don't like," so "Just let God handle it." It appears as if you're agreeing with Marshall Art that there are two and only two candidates. Would you conclude, then, that since neither is better, the right thing to do is nothing at all? Here's what I'm trying to get clear. Is it your conviction that my post was incorrect, or, if it was correct, is it your conviction that "The best thing I can do for my neighbors and my country is to do nothing at all" (in this election, of course)?

David said...

I don't see any viable voting option, so voting for either (and I guess I've bought the line that their are only two options) would be bad for my neighbors. You come up with another option and I'll think about it. I don't know that's it is bad or good for my neighbor for me to not vote/vote since if either be choosing someone I don't want it not choosing one I don't like. Where can I go from their?