I’ve been praying almost constantly about both the election next Tuesday and its aftermath. This is the first time in my life that an election has actually scared me, but this one does.
No matter who wins next week, this election is not going to end well for this country or for We the People. That is why I’ve decided to write this post. There are things I want to say now, before the election because there will be no purpose in saying them afterwards.
I realize that anything anyone says right now leads to a lot of craziness on the part of those who read it. These two candidates are, each in his or her own way, so execrable that there is no way to talk about either issues or morality without taking on the appearance of backing or attacking one of them.
It is even impossible to speak out against heinous things like sexual assault, misogyny, racism, incest, pornography and abortion without being attacked for advocating for one of these candidates.
Think about that. These two people are so identified with amorality that a discussion of immoral behavior is not possible without people thinking you are using code to attack one or the other of them.
Christians lost this election a long time ago. We have no candidate for president on the ballot next Tuesday. The fact that so many Christians — including, sadly, Christian religious leaders — have gone as nuts as the rest of the country and jumped down into the trough to sling mud with everybody else is a deep sadness in my heart. It is a failure of discipleship at a critical time in our history.
No matter who wins this election, Christians have already lost. More to the point, We the People, have lost. This will not end well. The reason it will not and can not end well is rooted in the touchstone I used for deciding issues and votes when I was in public office, which leads me to what I want to say.
Let me lay the groundwork with a bit of reminiscence.
When I went back into office the second time, I knew that I would face votes and times when even the most compelling issues and interests would collide with the common good. I also knew that decisions would be forced on me and that I couldn’t duck them. I would not have the option of voting for a third party candidate or just not voting at all. It was my job to decide and I had to do it.
It’s easy, in the pressure-cooker of political debate and decision making, to lose sight of who you are and what you believe. No one who has not experienced it can imagine the weight of the arguments and forces that are brought to bear on individual elected officials in an effort to get them to use the power of their office in a certain way. These interests and arguments collide forcefully, and the psyche and emotions of the person who holds the office tend to get crushed in the process.
People lose themselves in public office. They get so turned around and lost that they no longer believe what they believe or think what they think.
I knew all this when I went back into office the second time. I walked in the door fully aware that I was placing myself in an emotional, spiritual and psychological blender.
It’s important, when you are faced with critical decisions, to know what you believe and why you believe it. It is a critical part of keeping your head to have core values and understandings you can anchor your decision-making on as you wend your way through the maze of deciding that is your daily lot.
I think the American people have been put through an emotional, psychological and spiritual blender these past few years that is very much like a slow-mo version of what an elected official experiences. We have been beaten half senseless with a 24-hour news cycle that focuses on the next terrible thing and actively seeks to keep us whipped up in a frenzy of panic and obsession. That’s because they make their money from obsessive viewing, which is why so much of their programming is trash. It’s why they focus on the negative and the vicious, the amoral and the corrupt. Those things grab us at the lowest level of consciousness, they fascinate precisely because they echo our atavistic disorders and fears.
It’s no accident that we are now faced with a choice between two unsavory candidates for office. It is also no accident that many of the people in the electorate are behaving like crazy loons as the election approaches. The American public has been flogged without pausing for years now. We have been ignored and manipulated, disregarded and used; all without conscience or a sense of responsibility on the part of those who are doing it to us.
I have three things I want to share with you as we approach election day and the life after.
First, I want you to know that this is the kind of public discourse and these are the kinds of candidates you get in a democracy which has turned away from God. We are seeing the dawn of our punishment, and it appears that it will be by our own hands.
Second, I want to reiterate that no matter which of these candidates wins, Christians have already lost this election. We lost it a long time ago. Neither of these candidates is fit for the Oval Office. Neither of them is worthy to lead this great nation. But one of them will. And no matter who it is, We the People are going to pay the price for what they do.
Third, I want to share with you the touchstone that I used to anchor all my decision-making when I was in office. I actually had several basic rules, if you want to call them that, which guided me. I wouldn’t use my power to kill anybody and if I had the chance to save lives, I would take it and I would do it, no matter the political cost to me.
That sounds simple — just don’t kill anybody — but it’s not. A lawmaker can kill on a vast scale for generations to come by putting a comma in the wrong place. Also, how tough is it to decide to save a life? In politics, it can be tough. It can get you reviled and attacked. There is nothing that makes people more vicious than when you tell them that somebody they’ve decided is not human enough to be treated as a human is actually a full human person.
That point is pertinent in this election for one reason. The President of the United States has the power to kill on a planetary scale. He or she can, on their own cognizance and in a matter of minutes, kill everything, everywhere. We are considering in this election whether or not we will destroy the carefully-balanced system of alliances that has kept this world out of nuclear war for over 70 years. That is a huge matter. Enormous.
Which leads me to the basic, bedrock criteria I used for deciding on votes. When I found myself in a conundrum that wouldn’t yield, I based my decision on one truth: A just and stable government is always the greater good.
There is no force in this world more capable of doing great harm or great good than government. Government is the collective power of whole nations of people. In this case, it is the collective power of United States of America and all its capabilities and potential.
Will we end up in a depression that makes the 1930s look like a walk in the park? That question will be decided to a great extent by the actions of whomever we elect next week.
Will we be looking at a world where all nations, from Japan to Saudi Arabia, have nuclear weapons at their disposal? That is a question we are voting on next week.
Will we end legal abortion through the courts, or be forced to change tactics and go for a Constitutional Amendment? That question could be decided by whomever we elect on Tuesday.
Will we be vesting the power of government in the hands of the person who is most likely to ensure that We the People live under a just and stable government that is capable of protecting us and providing for the domestic tranquility?
Insofar as governance is concerned — and that is what we are doing, my friends, We the People of these United States are choosing our government — insofar as governance is concerned, a just and stable government is always the greater good.
No other value, privilege or right can possibly be more important than that for the simple reason that all rights, and the worldly protections of all life, flow from a just and stable government.
The single most anti-life vote anyone can cast is to vote against a just and stable government.
The President of the United States has the power to end all life on this planet. He or she has the power to kill on a planetary scale. He or she also has the power to create an international political climate that predicates toward war, even and including world war, or, conversely, to pull us back from that abyss and lead us past the carnage and into peace.
Think carefully about how you vote in this election. And however you vote, pray.
Because after the votes are counted, we will find that, no matter who won, we Christians have already lost.