An election is about ordinary people being asked a question: "Out of these available candidates, whom do you think is best suited to run the country the way you believe it ought to be run?"
A lot of times, people make the mistake of thinking the question really is, "Who is the perfect man/woman we can put all our faith in to set all the wrongs of our world right?"
This means we often are really excited about "our guy" winning, only to be deeply disappointed in who he actually turns out to be. He passes massive spending bills when we were convinced he was a dyed-in-the-wool small government friend. He bows when he ought to shake hands. He can't seem to get rid of abortion or even encourage reducing it's occurrence even though he sounded so fervently indignant about it on the campaign trail. He wobbles when asked to stand firm in the face of worldwide pressure to do bad things. He comes out in favor of mandatory vaccines when we thought he was staunchly for the freedom of parents to make decisions for their children. And on and on.
Sometimes our ire is justified. Sometimes politicians do lie about their beliefs to appeal to the people they think will be most likely to vote against their opponent. It's regrettable, but true.
Most of the time, it's our own fault. We pick these people out of starry-eyed idealism rather than reading and listening and studying facts.
It's a little bit like today's marriage woes. We've been sold the idea of "falling in love" so long that we fail to see the selection of a husband or wife as the weighing of someone else's true foundational thoughts and philosophy. Romance takes center stage and thoughtful reasoning is left on the shelf.
Which is how so many wives can lament, "I had no idea he was a drinker" or husbands say, "She cares what her friends say more than what I do." People today resort to living together for a while before marriage in a kind of "trial period" hoping to really get to know the other in a real world sense, but romance and feelings are still central and philosophy is not and so both cohabitation and marriage wind up in bitter divorce at least 50% of the time.
Selecting our leaders has become the same way. This is my theory as to why presidential approval ratings so often go from really high to really low when the man himself is only doing what we should've expected if we really listened to what he said while he was interviewing for the job.
We like being romanced by candidates. We like hearing the things we want to hear and joining a Movement, being held up and comforted by a tide of excitement and hope and it's-a-whole-lot-of-us-righteous-guys-against-the-massive-evil-bad-guys mentality.
We get swept up in the speeches and the promises and our own idea of who someone is and totally miss who the man himself really is and what he really thinks, based on the evidence of what he's done with the rest of his life.
Which brings me to this fascinating, bewildering election we're watching unfold.
I've always viewed elections as something I could have a very strong opinion about but not really do much about.
In other words, I can answer the fundamental question about whom I think should lead, but the final overarching answer is always God's. No matter what I think or do, he ultimately chooses leaders and deposes them. So I more or less sit on the sidelines, eat my popcorn and watch interesting developments before contributing my one little drop to the ocean of opinions.
My strongest opinion actually has nothing to do with what candidate to actually vote for. It has to do with my responsibility in how to vote.
Since I believe it's God who ultimately chooses, my job is, as usual, to be answerable to him for every action I take. When I stand before him someday, he isn't going to talk to me about how well (or terribly) I did choosing a leader for my country. He's going to be weighing my heart to see if I loved him first or if I let my feet go where they wanted without his input. My responsibility is to vote for whom I believe - based on whatever evidence I can find, not my feelings - to be closest to what God would want; and, absent anyone even close, to vote for someone who will do the least harm to what God would want. That's what I'm answerable to him for. Not the ultimate decision. Just mine.
My responsibility isn't to long after the perfect candidate or decide any of the options ARE. Unless Jesus has come back and is ruling as King, there is no perfect candidate. And Jesus isn't going to be voted in, so I don't have to worry about it.
It's not to choose the man who embodies my anger the best.
It's not to choose someone I feel most comfortable with when I see him speak.
It's not to be swayed by every manufactured emotion I'm supposed to feel but to judge based on the clearest evidence I can gather.
It's not even to pick someone I feel would be best for our family finances, though that's probably a better reason than choosing someone embodying anger and frustration.
I need to vote for the most good in the most practical way possible. And then leave the decision to God, not being angry or frustrated when the result isn't what I thought it should be.
This is why I read what the candidates say for weeks or months before I ever see them speak on TV. Because you can be fooled by what you see on TV a lot easier than what you read in a man's words. This is why I'm more interested in the overall pattern of their behavior than of their specific stances on issues which may change given the right incentive. This is why I can tell you much more easily whom I would absolutely not vote for rather than whom I would: because my process of choosing works by elimination, like answering multiple-choice questions on a test.
Whether someone is successful or not, if they got there by lying, cheating, and bad behavior, I'm going to assume they will continue that pattern.
If someone overall appears to be seeking good but has done things I don't agree with, I don't necessarily hold the mistakes against them.
If someone isn't of the same religious background I am but I still see evidence of an upright individual doing his best to do what's right, I won't hold the doctrinal differences against him.
If the person I think is the best candidate doesn't end up being an option to vote for, I don't refuse to make a decision because "my guy" isn't in the race anymore. (I did consider this for the first time this year, but my brother has talked me out of it by reminding me that my job is to make a decision based on what's in front of me, not what I WISH was in front of me...)
Voting is not romantic. It's not about what makes me feel the best. It's not about picking whoever says what I happen to be thinking at the time. It's about choosing someone the closest to good among the options I'm presented with.
And that's why - in this primary season - I can't vote for Donald Trump. He's the romantic candidate. But romance alone ends in bitterness, disillusionment and divorce and that's what I foresee happening with a potential Trump presidency. It's not just differing opinions. It's my basic approach to weighing a candidate: good first, ideas second, evidence of life as backup. Donald Trump doesn't factor God into his decisions and so his decisions will not be made by seeking what's good.
Whatever good you think he will do, it will be offset by the evil he will just as casually do because he doesn't understand or value goodness.
Other candidates may ultimately not value good either. But we have evidence on this one. I wish I could plead with everyone I love not to get married just because they "fall in love" and not to vote for a leader because they think he sounds or looks good in the position. Divorce is a bitter, ugly, heartbreaking catastrophe; and so is following a man who doesn't believe in good but in winning.
As Popeye said, "Bad is bad even if it helps ya."
So now I've voiced my opinion. And whatever decision God makes, it's for a good I'm too small to be able to see.
May the best man win.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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