Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Perhaps, like me, you find the current U.S. presidential election cycle to be as dismaying as any in our lifetime. Nearly everyone I converse with about it opines that we should have better choices. I agree.
I’m often asked: “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” My reply is always the same: “Neither one.” When asked who I’m voting for, I say that it’s a private matter. Occasionally I add that I don’t agree with all the positions of all the candidates (the same goes for the party platforms). Sometimes I note that I’m for all people in all parties because they are all God’s children, or I say that I’m on God’s side—since he always is with us and for us (that last comment often gets some strange looks!).
On occasion, I share a quote from P.J. O’Rourke, a political satirist who strikes me as a modern-day version of Mark Twain. He said this:
The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.
O’Rourke also made this remark: “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!” Another (anonymous) source concurs: “Talk is cheap… except when government does it!”
Mark Twain was well-known for his quips about the U.S. federal government. He joked, “The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.” In today’s entertainment-crazed media environment with its lack of integrity and truth when it comes to reporting the “news,” I’ve come to see one of Mark Twain’s quotations as prophetic: “If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.” I believe most of us would agree that, in our day, we’d need to add television and internet news to his quote.
Political humor, especially when it involves comments from famous historical personalities, can help keep us from getting overly depressed about politics. For example, Winston Churchill, in a quip about the economy, said this: “I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity, is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” A related quip came from French economist Frederic Bastiat, who said this: “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavours to live at the expense of everybody else.” And who can forget President John F. Kennedy’s great quote in his inaugural address: “My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
Here’s one more quote—this time from President Ronald Reagan: “The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.” As the election draws near, I am reminded of Reagan’s campaign slogan: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” While I’m registered as a no-party person, I can honestly say that President Reagan struck me as one of the most honest politicians in my lifetime. Perhaps his question can help bring clarity when you go about choosing a candidate to support with your vote.
A new president means another transition for our country. The new president will usher in another new beginning. Voters might disagree as to which party and candidate is most likely to bring that new beginning, but there is wide agreement on what they’d like to see happen. We all want security, which includes physical safety and financial prosperity, as well as the freedom to pursue fulfillment and personal well-being.
Though I won’t tell you how to vote, I do want to remind you that our hope, and thus the confidence we have for the future, transcends this or any election. Our hope is in Jesus, who has promised us life everlasting in the joy of the household of God. Let us all remember the apostle Paul’s instructions to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:1-3)—here’s how it’s rendered in the Message Bible:
Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.
In the U.S., citizens have the personal and civic right to choose local and national leaders without fearing for themselves or their families. I encourage Christians to prayerfully exercise this right in ways that (as much as possible) protect our freedom to worship and spread the gospel. Of course, not voting is a right in the U.S., but I believe we should not abandon our privilege to vote. Sadly, surveys show that about two out of five self-professed Christians do not vote. About one in five eligible Christians are not even registered to vote.
Regarding our decision as to who to vote for, I want to address a fallacy we’re hearing increasingly this election cycle, namely that failing to vote for one candidate is the equivalent of voting for their opponent. This year it is being said that not voting for Donald Trump is a vote for Hillary Clinton, or that failing to vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for Donald Trump. But this assertion is a mathematical absurdity. Simply put, if you do not vote, then no one gets your vote.
Whomever we decide to vote for in the coming election, our decision, as Christians, should be based on prayer and the study of God’s word, along with weighing the best information available about the realities of the choices offered. With this approach, we will make our decision knowing that our Father in heaven, with his Son and the Holy Spirit, already voted for us (and all people) long before we were born. And that’s an election that will stand forever in Jesus Christ, who is our representative and our substitute. We belong to the God who loves us, and there are no term limits on our place in his family.
Joyful that in Christ we are all elected,