I am perplexed. Baffled. Confused. Throughout my life I have voted on both sides of the aisle. I love the United States and I love our political process. Usually this time of the year brings excitement for me as I watch this great country decide its next leader. There is no excitement this year. This year is probably the most important election of our lifetimes and one of the most disheartening moments in American political history. I honestly have no idea who I will vote for. And I think that I am part of a group of millions of Christian voters who find themselves stuck in the middle of a catastrophe in the making.
The Right Kind of Person
On one side is Secretary Hillary Clinton. To her credit, she is smart, serious, capable and probably one of the most qualified candidates for the office of the President ever to run. Her convention was beautiful, patriotic and inspiring. Her views on American diplomacy is consistent with both Republicans and Democrats for at least a generation. And the Democratic party seems serious about helping the, ‘least of these.’ It seems she is taking this very seriously and has the temperament and character to be President. She is the right kind of person. But in my opinion she has two serious flaws. The first is that she moves her political views around as her party changes views. Because it is expedient to do so, she has embraced the Sanders reality of international trade and a very (almost socialist) progressive view of taxation. These views are fine to have if one truly believes them (as Sanders does) but she does not hold them deeply. She holds them because she had to have them to win the Democratic nomination. What else will she change her mind on for the sake of expediency?
Her second serious flaw is her views on social issues like abortion and traditional marriage. For all the talk the Democrats are giving on caring for children, they are the party that is spearheading the legal protection of killing millions of unborn children. It is no longer, “rare but legal” but now, “I will do whatever I damn well please with my body for the sake of convenience.” When one leader was speaking of abortion and the right to choose during the Democratic convention, there were cheers for abortions. I was left heartbroken. How can I say yes to a candidate that embraces such a callous view of human life? If that were not enough, the Democratic party is seeking to marginalize the religious right and its voice on marriage, gender and sexuality. It seeking to paint an orthodox view on these matters as bigoted and akin to the racism of the old, deep south. I thought the Democratic party was the party of tolerance and inclusion. This no longer seems to be the case. Secretary Clinton might be qualified but the America she is seeking to build breaks my heart.
The Right Kind of Policies
On the other side is Donald Trump. To his credit, he is a successful businessman. He has amazing kids, and by all accounts works hard and never gives up. Those close to him say he is motivated by patriotism and I have no reason to doubt them. But he has such deep character flaws, I am not even sure how to express them. He is narcissistic, offensive, a bigot, a misogynist, plays to the worse of our nature and seems to have no sense that he is running to lead the greatest and most powerful country on the earth. He has only been a conservative for about the last 12 months and who knows if we can believe him. His convention was filled with all white folks and was something out a end-of-the-world, sci-fi movie. Do we really want this man to have the nuclear codes? Do we really want him deciding the future of our children? Do we really want him being our representative around the world? His reckless hubris scares me.
That being said, he promises to nominate conservative judges, reform the tax code, and carry the conservative political mantle. His pick of Mike Pence as his running mate is a nod to conservatives that he is serious about being an advocate for a conservative world view. Trump has many of the right policies (though I do find his immigration proposals totally unbiblical and un-American). I have no doubt that Trump will unseat the political establishment and bring about lasting change. Though I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. To be honest, the system is very broken and maybe Trump can fix it.
A Two-Party System
And here is the other reality that must be faced; we live in a two-party system where voting for a third-party candidate is in a very real sense throwing your vote away. Much more could be said about this but by adding a third and fourth candidate into the midst, and if they get any level of support, will have the effect of helping one of the major candidates. 1992 is a perfect example of where this happened. Ross Perot got somewhere around 19% of the popular vote, did not win one state’s electoral votes and was a factor in the Republicans losing the White House that year. We are a two-party system and to vote means voting for one of the two candidates that can actually win. This means voting for either Clinton or Trump.
We Need Wisdom
I find myself filled with lament. Can we not have someone who is not just the right kind of person but also the one who has the right ideas. I am very sad for my country right now.
This year Christians will need the wisdom of Solomon. We want a leader with personal character and mature temperament AND we want a leader that holds to our values. This year we cannot have both. This year we will have to choose one or the other. God have mercy on us all.