Fellow Patheos blogger Ellen Painter Dollar got some huge traffic last month when her post, “Why I Am a Christian Democrat” went viral. I appreciate Ellen’s apologia for being both a Christian and a registered Democrat. Like her, it’s neither scandalous nor revolutionary for a Christian from my background to vote for Democrats. Both the church of my youth and my current faith community are full of folks who vote both ways — though I suspect that my current co-parishioners generally lean left.
Nevertheless, I think that Ellen has made a mistake. In general, I don’t think that Christians should register with political parties.
As I’m sure even Ellen would agree, as would my Republican friends, a Christian’s allegiance to any human institution (including the church) must be subservient to our allegiance to Christ.
But beyond that obvious point, I think that it is imperative that Christians not be straight-party ticket voters. I think that’s a huge mistake. As I revealed in my votes last week, I’m voting for both Republicans and Democrats. I’m leaning Democratic in my votes this year as I did four years ago because I think that the Republican Party is, with notable exceptions, too extreme both socially and fiscally.
Unfortunately, if a Christian runs for political office, s/he has no choice but to take on full membership of a party. That’s part and parcel of our system at the present moment, what moral philosophers call the Theory of Dirty Hands. Here I disagree with retreatists, like Stanley Hauerwas, who urge Christians not to run for political office. I think Christians should run, and to run you have to claim party affiliation.
However, for those of us who aren’t running, I think that we should maintain our independence as voters as much as possible.
Happy voting tomorrow!