Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Nothing is Worth That

You should know by now, I'm not on any "team" when it comes to elections. I encourage you to vote for me, where you can. I'm even fine if you don't vote. What I would like you to do is not vote for someone in order to register a vote against someone else. That's not cool.

What's more, it's not ethical, especially for Christians. That's who I hear talking the most about this. I've tried, over the last few months, to figure out exactly what Hillary Clinton did in the '90s to raise the absolute ire of the evangelical right. I know she did something, because I grew up with the impression she was one of the worst people on Earth. I couldn't, though, even at this point, figure out why. I've heard her called a liar a lot, but I haven't found evidence of egregious falsehoods - at least not any more than the typical politician making empty promises kind of way.

Anyway, I'm not here to defend her, just explain that lots of conservative Christians hate her with an inscrutable passion. This is what leads so many to tacitly support Donald Trump this time around. What I hear most often is the old Roe v Wade argument - "we need a republican President to save the Supreme Court." It's a pretty universal reason for Christians to vote GOP.

These Christians need a reason, because the guy is almost universally recognized as unconscionable. He's crass, selfish, mean, and immoral.* I might say he's more amoral, because I'm not sure Donald Trump possesses the typical human ability to differentiate between right and wrong. People don't like the guy; Christians can't excuse or defend him - and points for actually admitting it (for the most part).

It's the power game, though, that's troubling to me. The argument becomes one of power, particularly the Supreme Court and the underlying message of abortion - the single greatest motivating factor for conservative evangelicals. It is the only issue for so much of this particular part of the electorate - and it's giving Trump some life in this election. It's pretty much the only thing. Without that fear, I'm guessing the electorate might look a little more like Utah - with the religious vote largely going to someone with a very slim chance of winning.

I don't much care who someone votes for in this election. Someone will win and someone will lose. Life will get easier for some people and more difficult for others. Life will go on and things will, on the whole, change very little - even if there are some very noticeable differences that make for good headlines. I do care, however, why people are voting.

To be consistent, at least ethically, Christians really can't use this Supreme Court excuse to vote for Trump. If you genuinely like the guy or his policies, please say that. If you just simply don't trust Hillary Clinton and are terrified of her winning, say it. Don't - please, please please don't - say you're voting for Trump to save the Supreme Court.*

What you're saying there is that the ends justify the means and I know I've written the ethical, theological, and real life problems with that idea into the ground. I searched for "ends means" in my blog directory and found a full 15% of my posts at least mention them both. That justification is bad. It's terrible. We can't justify our means by the ends - that is the very antithesis of the life and teaching of Jesus. The whole point of Christian life is to make the good, right, ethical, and loving choice now, regardless of the consequences. We believe in a world without end and thus the ends are decidedly irrelevant.

I believe some important guy once said something about gaining the whole world while losing your soul.

I suspect the religious right in the US has already lost its collective soul by reckless pursuit of power - that's probably a decades old occurrence at this point. It doesn't have to be the future, though. This is why I so strongly oppose the idea that we have some moral or theological obligation to vote. That's a trap set by the powers that be, attempting to force people to choose the lesser of two evils - to put the ends before the means. You don't have to do it. There is more to the world than elections and government and courts and laws. Life is about relationship, specifically the relationships you have with your coworkers, friends, and neighbors - the people you see every day.

There is nothing - no court case, no law, no election, no cause - that is worth the sacrifice of principles, conscience, ethics, or soul. We can't; we cannot allow the means to justify the ends for us who follow Christ or we have been converted away from the gospel we long to live out.

Vote or don't. Don't feel obligated. If you like one candidate or another, please, by all means, vote for them. If you like neither, vote for someone else. If you're in Colorado, you can just fill in the bubble next to my name. If you're in a dozen other states, you can write me in and it will count. I promise, I won't win. I'd probably be a terrible President anyway - but if I were, I guarantee it won't be because I put the ends above the means.

Please, you don't do that, either. The faith we profess is bigger, better, stronger, and more powerful than anything we might win by betraying it.

*Please understand that these arguments equally apply to people pinching their nose and voting for Clinton because they can't stand the idea of President Trump - I just don't know many people in that situation. It's largely my Christian friends using Christian excuses to violate what I see as a core part of the gospel message. If there's a choice between Clinton and Trump, I'd rather have Clinton, but there's never just an either/or choice - there is always another option - that's part of the Good News of Jesus, too.

No comments: