musings about this election season and christianity

This election season has been entertaining, to say the least. Who honestly thought over a year ago that Donald Trump would win the nomination against the entire establishment base of the Republican Party? That alone makes this election unique, not to mention the prospect of having the first female president and a former First Lady. Is this the election to end all elections, as pundits would have us believe? If it is, then I guess they were wrong about the 2012 election being the “most important of our lifetime.” Come to think of it, if 2012 was the most important election of our lifetime, then I guess they were wrong about the importance of the 2008 election. And the 2004 election…and the 2000 election. You get it. None of these were as life or death as just about everyone would make them out to be. Why do people even do this in the first place? As if if Hillary Clinton is elected, secret agents will break into our homes, take our guns, and steal all the crosses and scripture art off our walls. People are easily scared, and other people exploit that fear to shame Americans into voting for their candidate, or against the other candidate. No matter who you vote for, or if you don’t vote at all, life will go on. You will go to work the next day, your kids will go to school, and a few years later, everyone will be screaming about how “crucial the 2020 election is to the future of America.” What a load. This isn’t to say that elections aren’t important, or that candidates don’t have plans they want to implement that affect Americans, but let’s quit pretending that the next president is either Jesus or Hitler. For all the fearmongering going on about what Trump and Clinton might do, consider what these “great” president have done:

  • Lincoln jailed editors and other critics who did not completely support the war effort. He also kicked a U.S. Congressman out of the country for opposing the war effort.
  • Woodrow Wilson engaged the United States in the largest war of its day, after being elected for keeping America out of the war.
  • FDR imprisoned Japanese Americans for…no legitimate reason.
  • FDR refused to negotiate with Japanese officials before the war and intentionally withheld information from US officials in Hawaii concerning the impending attack from the Japanese.
  • President Truman dropped two atomic bombs that killed thousands of Japanese civilians.
  • LBJ engaged America in the longest war of its time which ended unsuccessfully.
  • Nixon secretly bombed a foreign country without even consulting Congress.
  • Reagan approved the selling of arms to Iran, who had just recently kidnapped dozens of US hostages from the American embassy in Iran, and used that money to secretly fund Nicaraguan rebels.
  • The Bush (43) Administration convinced the American public that invading Iraq was necessary since…Saudi hijackers attacked New York.
  • President Obama has perpetuated America’s interventionist foreign policy, continuing our secret spying/droning programs and refusing to close our torture facility at Guantanamo Bay, despite promising to do so.


And yet, many Americans regard some of these presidents as among the greatest. Can you imagine if next year, a headline read “President Trump Approves Internment of all Japanese Americans”? What if we woke up and read “President (Hillary) Clinton Sells Weapons to Iran to Fund Latin American Rebels”? But these things have already happened…with presidents Americans consider great! So if we’re going to address the potential for evil with a Clinton or Trump presidency, let’s at least acknowledge that not all presidential mishaps exclude them from the pantheon of greatness. That’s one of the most frustrating things about this election…too many Americans try to scare their neighbors into voting for someone. We’ve lost all logic and are driven only by emotion. I heard yesterday on the radio that an NFL coach publicly endorsed Trump and that consequently his team is completely divided in the locker room over politics. I also heard that some other NFL coaches have told their players not to even talk politics or say the name “Trump.” I guess “Trump” is the new trigger word. In most parts of Texas, “Hillary” is the trigger word. How stupid is all of this? We lose friends and lose our minds because someone’s name is brought up? “TRUMP IS RACIST…HILLARY CAN’T BE TRUSTED.” Do people think either of these options are going to “save” America? If you know anything about history, the office of the presidency was not intended to be so powerful that the fate of the nation rested with its occupier. But, thus is life, I suppose.

Some people get mad when Americans don’t vote. “It’s your patriotic duty,” they say.

“Ok, I’ll vote for Gary Johnson. He at least says a few things I like.”

“You can’t do that, he won’t win. You’re throwing your vote away.”

“Oh. I’ll vote for Stein then, I think she’s anti-war.”

“Nope, she’ll earn less votes than Johnson.”

“Gotcha. So who can I vote for?”

“Trump or Hillary.”

“I can vote for Hillary?”

“No, she’s a liar and psychopath.”

“Oh, so just Trump then?”

“No, he’s racist and a misogynist”

“Then I guess I just won’t vote.”

“FINE! Just sit there and throw away your vote and don’t practice the freedom people have died to protect, you Communist.”

This is literally how it goes, and people call it democracy. What they really mean by “go vote” is “go vote for my guy or I’ll be even more mad than I would be if you didn’t vote.” Americans love to talk about our freedoms when it comes to politics. Power to the people, ya know? We get to choose our leaders! What if when my wife and I were getting married, someone told her she could either wear a brown or black dress. “I wanted to wear a white dress,” my wife contests. “Sorry…a lot of people have a lot at stake in you wearing either brown or black,” she’s told. “I don’t want to choose either,” she replies. “But we’re giving you a choice…you’re FREE to choose.” This is democracy today.

I think if people vote, they should be voting for more individual liberty. If they think Trump offers that, then vote for him. If Clinton, vote for her. If Johnson, vote for him. If Americans think the two major candidates want…

  • Bigger government
  • Bigger military
  • A more interventionist foreign policy
  • A bigger domestic bureaucracy
  • More spying programs
  • More droning
  • More wars
  • More imprisoning of suspected terrorists without trials
  • More money printing
  • More inflation  
  • More business regulations
  • More taxes
  • “Stop and Frisk” programs
  • More minimum wage policies
  • More welfare programs
  • More government ownership of healthcare
  • More censorship

…then don’t vote for them. And when people ask you why you’re not voting, tell them that the candidates are antithetical to the free and minimal government envisioned by the Founders and deduced from a Natural Rights philosophy. Ideas have power, and all major movements in history were sparked from ideas. In the 18th century, North American colonists finally told the British Crown that they were done taking orders. I can just picture British men and women back in Europe saying “those colonists aren’t going to pay taxes? But everyone pays taxes. Don’t they enjoy the freedoms provided by the Crown?”

“But,” Americans object, “we don’t have a king like England did so the analogy doesn’t fit. We have a president that is democratically elected.” True, we don’t have a king…we have a president that was voted for, from essentially, two options. We got to choose between two kings and then call him a president! And if you didn’t vote for one, you’re forsaking the most precious freedom you have, they say. The irony of voting for a president in the 21st century is that too many people vote for what the president will do rather than what they won’t. We shouldn’t want presidents to do things. The president is supposed to safeguard individual liberty and veto unconstitutional bills from Congress. He is supposed to be the most ardent champion of liberty and a check against congressional overreach. Do Trump or Clinton come to mind when I say “ardent champion of liberty?”

The last thing about the election I feel compelled to address is many (not all) Conservative Christians and their transformation during this election season. Before Trump won the nomination, when the floor was still wide open, I didn’t hear many Christians saying they wanted Trump. He’s been married three times, he was once outspoken in favor of abortion rights, he’s a former self-identified liberal, he’s a Northerner (which tends to estrange Southern evangelicals), he now says he opposes the War in Iraq, and he has made several derogatory comments about women which Christians probably wouldn’t publicly support. Now, is any of this worse than what Clinton has already done in office, especially her intrusive and deadly foreign policy? Absolutely not. I only bring this up because many Christians who wouldn’t have chosen Trump back in 2015 are now going to vote for him. Whereas they would have preferred more traditionally Conservative choices like Ben Carson or Ted Cruz, they are now left choosing only between a former New York liberal and a current New York liberal (attempt at a joke).

The major difference, however, between the evangelical base with this upcoming election versus any election prior, is that Trump cannot even pretend to fit the mold of a traditional Conservative Christian. I don’t pretend to know Trump’s heart and whether or not he is a believer, I just know from 12th grade Government class that a politician’s first job is to get elected. And politicians will do and say anything to accomplish this. With the Religious Right comprising a vast bloc of votes, it is no surprise that Trump has been catering to them. The odd thing about Christians voting for him, and the reason I bring this up, is that in elections past, Christians typically base their vote on whose views are more in-line with Biblical principles. This makes sense, since allegiance to Christ should trump (I can’t help myself) any other principles. But with this election, since Trump fits no where near the Conservative Christian mold that Carson, or Cruz, or Bush, or Reagan, or Nixon apparently represented, why are Christians voting for him? Are they pretending that he’s Christian-enough and therefore they can hold their nose and vote for him? Do we know any pastors or elders who have been divorced three times and have at one time supported access to abortions? Has allegiance to the Republican Party superseded our faith? I would imagine most voting Christians feel conflicted and maybe angered that these are their options. They’re certainly not going to vote for Clinton, which I completely understand. But does voting for Trump fall in-line with their Biblical principles? Can Christians even support a political process that spends billions of dollars on hate-speech, slander and propaganda? Is that being good stewards of our money? That’s a tough pill to swallow.

Like I said…I can’t tell you who to vote for, nor would I dare tell you that you even have to vote. I’m not saying voting is inherently wrong, nor is not voting. If you’re going to vote, vote for someone who will allow Americans to make their own peaceful decisions, if such a candidate exists. This election has certainly brought to light the comedy, farce, and myth of representative democracy. Consider this…whoever wins the election next month will probably win with the smallest margin of the popular vote ever cast (or conversely, not cast). What does this tell us? What does this mean for the future? Something to think about.