“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”
I do my darndest not to post on political stuff. I don’t even like engaging in a lot of “cultural commentary,” as I am not fond of letting the headlines drive my writing. I was adamantly opposed to this when I was responsible for a church pulpit each week, and I’m generally averse to it from the bully pulpit we call the blog. But I thought I might share a few thoughts about the current options facing Americans in the foamy churning of our current election cycle, especially in light of the guest post by Nick Rodriguez over at our brother Thabiti’s site yesterday.
Mr. Rodriguez attempts to make a case for Christians’ principled voting for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I say “attempts to make a case,” because I think his reasons are understandable but lacking — especially as it pertains to principle. In fact, his reasons amount mainly to politics — making sure Trump does not win.
I do not want Trump to win. I do not want Clinton to win. At this point it seems clear that our next president will be one of these two. It does not seem at all clear (to me) which one would actually be worse for our country. I suppose that comes down to what you expect your president to do for the nation and for you as a voter. I’m not even sure at this point that one would be significantly worse than the other. They are both terrible options for some reasons that overlap but mostly for reasons that are different. Maybe for you this is simply a case of “picking your poison.”
But not for me. I refuse to play this game. I refuse to see my right to cast a vote as a zero sum endeavor. In my estimation, the operating value in voting Trump/Clinton to ensure Clinton/Trump doesn’t win is not principle at all, but politics. It’s a power move. It’s believing that what matters is party control.
Well, I’m done with that. And I know a lot of evangelicals, mostly the younger ones, are done with it too. The establishment has gamed the system into an utterly corrupted state. Each party has been cruddy for quite some time. We’ve always had to make some compromises, hold our noses from time to time. But now the politickers have gone too far. They want to force our hands, but I am keeping mine in my pockets.
If you’re voting politics over principles, it’s not clear at all that Secretary Clinton, due to being a “known quantity,” should be the clear choice, since it’s theoretically possible that Trump might appoint conservative Supreme Court justices or what-have-you. But the only reason you’d vote for Trump would be to prioritize the politics of power over principles, since this man would arguably be the most unqualified leader of the free world in our history. And both options — as candidates — are, in their own idiosyncratic ways, amoral zeroes. You want me to avoid the race-baiting, womanizing, greedy and boorish dullard by voting for the abortion-consecrating, national security-compromising, rapist-supporting liar? Or vice-a versa? No.
If you’re voting principles over politics, you realize there are more options on the table. Or off the table and out the door and down the sidewalk from the polling center completely. If you want to maintain your right to refuse complicity with institutional evil — and I do not use that word evil lightly — you can vote for a principled third party candidate or you can not vote at all.
I know, I know. That latter option likely has some of you clutching your pearls and thinking of the children. But I don’t care about your pearls. Our children, on the other hand . . . well, they’d be better served by not having to hear that their moms and dads once chose an evil because it had the right letter after its name. If the ship sinks, voters, it won’t be my fault and it won’t be the fault of anybody who votes neither Trump nor Clinton. It will be the fault of all those who vote for either one of these two (no matter which one of them wins). It’s your fault for putting power over principles over and over again and then insisting we all play along and then chastising us when we don’t.
King Nebuchadnezzar once commanded his people to worship an idol. The “clear choice” would be of course to comply. You could sort of cross your fingers, right? Like, you could do it but not really mean it. I mean, better to compromise a little than to die, right?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” — Daniel 3:16-18
But is it as serious as all that? Don’t we want to win?
I say if it means bowing down, no.
Don’t I care about our country?
Yes. Which is why I cannot support a morally bankrupt candidate to lead it.
Yes, I love my country. But in fact, I love my Lord more. And speaking only for myself, I cannot even think how I might justify to him having compromised my conscience, which is captive to his word, in the pursuit of some fleeting sense of cultural control and institutional power.
“Of two evils, choose neither.”
— Charles Spurgeon
(Photo credit: CNN)