by Deana Chadwell 7/23/16
I’m tired of people boasting that they are “voting with their conscience.” I was confused and appalled to hear Ted Cruz utter those words the other night. Does anyone even know what that even means? Does it mean they will never vote for anyone who commits the sins they don’t like? Does it mean they will only vote for the person whose apparent political stance matches their own 100%? Or are they saying that they will only vote for the person whose strategy and tactics match their own? (Was Cruz really meaning what Newt surmised – that it would be unconscionable to vote in such a way that Hillary got elected?)
So then, if this is what we’re going to do, where is the breaking point? If you favor the destruction of the IRS, must it be done via a flat tax or a value-added tax? If you would not dream of voting for a person who wasn’t dedicated to making all abortion illegal – where do you draw the line? Would a no-late-term candidate do? Or an only-in-the-first-trimester guy? Or will you refuse to vote unless he goes the whole nine yards? What about the voter who worries about the unfairness of illegal immigration? Will he stay home unless the candidate promises to deport all illegals or will he be willing to hold his nose and vote for the candidate who is only interested in building a wall?
Just where is that point of no return? How flexible are your principles? Or are they just preferences? As far as I can tell right now there are 15-20 major issues facing this country. Does voting one’s conscience require a candidate who agrees with you in all areas?
And what about the voter spouting the vote-my-conscience mantra, thinking not of policy issues, but of Trump’s own moral missteps? Can’t vote for him; he committed adultery. Can’t vote for him; he builds gambling casinos. Can’t vote for him: he’s been divorced. Nine times out of ten we hear this from Christians. Christians who should know all there is to know about forgiveness. We should remember that people who have logs in their own eyes should not gripe about the guy dealing with a speck. We ought to be the ones who are more aware of our own sin than we are of anyone else’s. Why aren’t these Christians remembering King David, from whom our Lord descended, King David, of whom God said, “He is a man after my own heart?” And God said that of David after he had seduced (raped?) Bathsheba, impregnated her, and then had her husband killed. Yet David was the greatest king Israel ever had. He made Israel a great nation. Many, however, in the NeverTrump faction wouldn’t have voted for David – even though God, knowing in advance all that he would do, appointed him to that office.
As Christians we’re to remember that God, being omniscient and perfectly righteous and just, has designed history and continues to control it. If Donald Trump is the Republican candidate, then it is as God wanted. This can mean that Trump has potential many can’t see right now. It may mean that God has some more lessons for America to learn and Trump or (may the Lord forbid) Hillary is to be our school master. Maybe it’s up to Trump to clear the decks, shake out the ranks, and clean things up so a Ted Cruz can come in and solidify the changes. We don’t know and we hadn’t ought to be thinking we do – God works in mysterious ways, and if it is His will Cruz be president, he will be. We don’t have to be at each other’s necks.
Neither do the candidates. Yet, we must also recall that leadership is often fueled by testosterone, sometimes a near-lethal dose. We watch in horrified amusement as Cruz and Trump fluff their feathers and bare claws at each other over who said what about whose wife. Good grief. But, strong, masculine intensity is what we’re going to need in the near future and obviously either guy has that going for him.
I do plan on voting my conscience, but it is a practical conscience. I would bear a terrible guilt if I did not vote and Hillary was elected. I know this because I still regret my vote for Ross Perot. I helped Bill Clinton into office. Yikes. The stakes in this election are far higher. If I chose to write in a name or stay home or vote for a third party candidate, of what would I be guilty? I would be partially culpable for the communizing of the Supreme Court. I would bear the responsibility for 30, maybe 40 years of anti-freedom, in-your-face anti-Christian, anti-free enterprise decisions. We were all pretty shocked by the John Roberts Obamacare decision, by the gay marriage decision. Just wait and see what things are like with Barry Sotero and his ilk filling the court. My conscience couldn’t take knowing I’d helped that happen.
My conscience demands that I vote for the man who stands the best chance of beating back Hillary Clinton. We all know she’s a traitor, taking foreign blood money, allowing top-secret information to get to our enemies. How does anyone in good conscience aid and abet her (and don’t forget that Slick Willy is coming with her) to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office and make life-and-death decisions about our troops, our police, our general safety?
How, with a fully functioning moral compass, can anyone, by default, elect a person who lies more comfortably than she tells the truth? How can we allow that, knowing that she lies because for her the truth is actually headed-to-jail dangerous?
Our votes are not just effective for putting a candidate into office; they are also a vital part of keeping another person out. Each of us has one unit of say in who gets to be president and it’s a double-sided vote; you cast your ballot both for your candidate and against another. Let’s say that in a village there are 100 voters in the mayoral election. Suppose 50 voters are Republican, and 50 Democrat. If 20 of the GOP voters decide they don’t like their candidate and stay home, then the Dems win by 30 votes. The same thing happens if the disaffected voters form a third party, or write in another name. Such vacant voting allowed Obama to stay in office for 2 terms. If you turned up your nose at Romney because he’s Mormon, shame on you: you owe us all an apology and a promise never to do that again.
We are, as we all sense in our bones, at a crossroad and we will take the right turn only if we stick to biblical concepts. A friend shared this passage with me this morning:
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech…” 1 Peter 3:8-10
Let’s do that and quit strutting about comparing our respective consciences. Let’s face the danger we’re in and make the only possible choice we have knowing that history will play out just as God intended.
Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com and is a writing and speech professor at Pacific Bible College in Southern Oregon.
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