[I have been doing some political and theological soul searching over the last couple of years. I want to share some of my thoughts with you. I find that forcing myself to write out my thoughts adds clarity, and posting them online adds accountability and feedback.]
I just finished Edmund Morris’ excellent 3-part biography on Theodore Roosevelt. It was a huge endeavor to read (each volume was over 550 pages) but it was a wonderfully written profile on the enormous life and accomplishments of “Teddy”.
As I was reading, I was struck by how different the Democrats and Republicans of the early 20th century were from the Democrats and Republicans of the early 21st century. Some platform elements were the same, but most were very different. As I pondered how I would have voted in the early 1900s, what struck me the most is that I couldn’t in good conscience have voted for either party.
In the early 1900s, the Democrats were still a party of the South (still stinging from the end of the civil war), and much of their platform was downright racist. The Republican platform, on the other hand, was imperialist in its desire to expand and conquer more territories in the name of the United States.
I couldn’t in good conscience place a vote for racism or for jingoism. So I think, as a follower of Jesus, I would have had to abstain from voting.
Then upon further reflection, I asked myself what is so different about the choices of 100 years ago than my choices today. I won’t bore you with my full laundry list of grievances against today’s Republicans and Democrats, but suffice it to say that each list is long.
Some questions I am currently asking: Can I in good conscience vote for a candidate that is for abortion? Can I vote for one that is for the death penalty? What do I do when both parties are for drone strike assassinations that kill an “acceptable” number of civilians? What about both parties willingness to hold prisoners indefinitely without a trial?
In the past, when I have aired these grievances to others, they have told me that I need to choose the lesser of two evils. But today I am going to ask: why? Why must I choose? Why must I stand before my God one day and say that I helped put in office a candidate who was for the killing of unborn children? Why should I try and defend my vote for a candidate who felt they had the right to assassinate others without a trial, especially knowing that the assassination would kill innocent bystanders?
Does God really want me to vote for a candidate that is the lesser of two evils? Does God want me to vote for someone who opposes what is right, to prevent someone else who is even worse from taking office?
In the past I have bought into the lesser-of-two-evils argument, and held my nose while pulling the lever in the voting booth. Today I am much less sure.
Still to come…
Why I May Not Vote (part 2) – If I Don’t Do What the Bible Clearly Says to Do for Members of the Government, What Business Do I Have Voting for Them?
Why I May Not Vote (part 3) – How Can I Vote for a Government While Working for Another One?