By the time you read this the polls will have closed and most of the results will have been announced. But, as of this writing it remains a mystery.
As I cast my ballot today for the candidates of my choice, I must confess this was the least excited I have ever been about an election. The first time I had an opportunity to vote in a national election was when President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were on the ballot. I have not failed to vote in a national election since. But, this year, I just wanted to stay home.
The reason? There was no one on the ballot that represents me. If you are a Trump-nation Republican, you had plenty of candidates from which to choose. The same goes for you who are progressive Democrats. But, for we people who rest in the middle, it was slim pickings.
Although my father was active in Democratic politics and registered as a Democrat all his life, I identified with the Republican Party from the age of 12. I am still a registered Republican, but I feel less and less that it truly represents my values and concerns. Ronald Reagan famously said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the party left me.” That is exactly my sentiment about the Republican Party over the past two years.
I have not always been content with whom the Republicans put on the ballot. And sometimes I held my nose and voted for them anyway. Two years ago, I couldn’t hold my nose long enough to vote for a person with whom I had so many differences. Therefore, I voted third party.
I’m a values voter. And neither of the major parties – Republican or Democrat – represent my values. Oh, each one represents a portion of my values. But neither one represents them to the point where I could conscientiously, let alone enthusiastically, support them. Hence, my two-year-long malaise with national politics.
Along with my dissatisfaction has come a profound sense of disappointment, especially in my Christian Evangelical and Wesleyan Methodist friends. Even as a child I was aware that my father was an anomaly among our circle of church friends. Most of them, way back when, identified with the Republican Party. But it was not until 1979 and the advent of the Moral Majority founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell that the more conservative and orthodox branch of Christianity became a reliable voting block for Republican candidates. (The media often identifies this group as Evangelicals and/or Fundamentalist although the terms are neither interchangeable nor all-encompassing.)
For a time I could readily identify with this group. (Even though I didn’t agree with everything.) 2016 changed that. I saw this Christian block make a deal with the devil and it sickened me. It was “all about the Supreme Court,” they said. But at what cost?
The poor. The Christian Bible, both Old Testament and New, speaks strongly to the just and equitable treatment of the poor, the orphan, and the widow. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9) This is my greatest objection to the platform of the Republican Party. God ensconced in the laws of the nation of Israel consideration for the poor and needy. “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:24) No less is expected of us and our government today.
Oneness. We are not to be “Jew nor Greek…slave nor free…for we are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) European nor African. Asian nor South American. Australian nor North American. Islander nor Indigenous. The way our Hispanic/Latino citizens have been represented is especially egregious. According to James 2, “partiality” is a sin. All people on this earth bear the “image” and “likeness” of God and therefore have intrinsic value. (Genesis 1:26)
Truth. Truth appears to be for sale to the highest bidder. The purview of the loudest voice. Subject to interpretation by one’s position. Lost in an endless swamp. When the Church identifies itself with such recklessness with the truth, we compromise our message of Jesus as “the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)
The moral high ground. If the Church becomes known for taking the Republican or Democrat line, the American line, the President Trump line or any other line but the Jesus line, it loses its voice of moral certitude.
The dignity of women. Jesus treated women with honor, respect, value, and dignity. The objectification and misogynous treatment of women have no place among Jesus followers.
Kindness and civility. Paul’s call to be “kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32) is ignored for name calling, personal attacks, and vitriol.
From the time when the Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in 313 and arbitrated a theological dispute between factions within the Church at the Council of Nicaea in 325, the Church has never truly benefited from a marriage with the State. The union of Republicans and conservative Christians is not one made in heaven. The Church is to be the conscience of the world, the prophets that call us to repentance, the siren call that sounds a clear warning. We cannot do that while entangled with a secular party or State.
I don’t know where I belong politically, but I do know where I belong spiritually. Whenever the two come into conflict, my choice is already made. “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
Thank you for reading.
The LORD be with you.