Thinking Carefully about Not Voting — Especially After Trump

Thinking Carefully about Not Voting — Especially After Trump August 19, 2019
Stephen Fredericks – Flickr

If Christians are ever to think independently about voting, we have to start thinking earlier than usual. So let’s get ahead of the conversation before the rest of the world makes up our minds for us.

This post has a limited purpose. I analyze two principled reasons why certain believers don’t vote in national elections. I argue that reasons grounded in personal purity are weaker than those grounded in missional impartiality. By “principled” I don’t mean “binding in all times and places.” I don’t subscribe to a timelessly right approach to voting. Rather, I mean convictions not tied to the specifics of a particular election, but linked to broader concerns.

I also limit my analysis to national elections. I’m not talking about local elections, company elections, or grade school elections for class treasurer. Though some ideas cross over, others do not.

Nor do I seek to convince Christians whether or not to vote. That would require a book length treatment. I’m simply exploring one aspect of a complex and sensitive conversation to get some Christian gears turning before it’s too late.

Recent developments among nonvoters

From a Christian perspective, the 2016 election season was unique. Of course, die hard democrats and republicans voted along party lines. Nothing new or interesting there. But enough Christians were leery of their usual party’s candidates that many were not certain how or even if they should vote.

This ambivalence amplified the voice of Christians who were thinking of not voting—many for the first time. For some it was due to the lack of a worthy candidate; for others it was a growing sense that voting in national elections isn’t something Christians should do.

According to one line of thought, the state is evil and participating in elections defiles its participants. Had they voted, they would have felt complicit in all the evil that would be perpetrated by their candidate. This logic aired recently on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program. Leftist pundit Donny Deutsch claimed that to vote for Trump is to “own” the “whole package.” And Deutsch insists that this means “you own the racism.”

In this example, the charge of complicity is aimed at conservatives. In my experience principled decisions not to vote are far more prevalent among theological progressives. And the left is starting to notice and to worry.

Of course, not voting or even voting for an independent will also subject you to the charge of complicity. To not vote or to vote for a sure loser often benefits the winning party. This means to many that you, too, must “own” whatever havoc the winners might wreak.

Still, abstaining altogether enabled some Christians to sleep with a clean conscience. That doesn’t mean they slept easily, however. Those who abstain from voting usually invite the scorn of numerous friends and family members. They regard voting as an American’s (read: human’s) most sacred political responsibility. And their biting and sometimes personal criticisms are often hard to shut out.

The Trump Effect

And then Trump happened. While principled abstainers boycotted election booths, less scrupulous Christians stormed polling stations and handed him a padded seat in the oval office. From the left’s perspective, Trump’s victory is one of the worst political developments in recent years (read: forever). And this has shifted the thinking of many progressives.

Politics now seems more complicated. Progressive Christians withdrawing from America’s electoral process amounts to handing the reins to conservative Christians with fewer qualms about complicity. The only responsible choice, then, is to suspend their principles and vote for the most worthy progressive candidate.

Thus the unwavering participation of most Evangelicals in the electoral process is now driving principled progressive abstainers back to the polls.

This leaves us back where we were before 2016 with progressive Christians lining up behind the political left and conservative Christians lining up behind the political right. Principled Christian opposition to voting is rapidly eroding and will likely crumble by 2020.

Up to this point, I’ve been reporting things as I see them unfolding. Now I weigh in with a bit of biblical reasoning.

The Problem with All or Nothing Logic

Donny Deutsch’s logic is dubious. Jesus and his followers didn’t champion “all or nothing” defilement standards. Modern partisans and ancient Pharisees used such binary thinking to manipulate “undecideds” into joining their ranks.

On the contrary, Jesus could give Caesar a coin without fear of being implicated in all the unjust executions it would underwrite. Paul could invoke Roman citizenship to escape premature execution and avail himself of the opportunity to preach in Rome. He was also willing to eat meat sold in the marketplace that was leftover from an idol feast without fear of contamination.

So if you are going to take a principled stance on voting, don’t do so on personal purity grounds. Such grounds are shaky from a biblical perspective and bypass careful Christian thinking. But that doesn’t mean there are no principled reasons why Christians might elect not to vote.

Kingdom Loyalty

A more relevant reason is that Christians have been baptized out of the kingdoms of this world and into the kingdom of God. We have but one king, Jesus, and we owe him our political loyalty. He has conferred upon us a full-orbed social-political agenda for this world. No biblical evidence suggests that it should be carried out in direct collaboration with the kingdoms of this world.

Collaboration with the empire was the Sadducees’ approach. They partnered with Roman rulers to negotiate freedom for Jews in Palestine. They were free to worship their own God as long as it didn’t interfere with Rome’s agenda. This enabled them to upsize and manage a magnificent temple in Jerusalem, complete with imperially-recognized religious officers. They achieved autonomy and authority to deal with in-house Jewish problems in specifically Jewish ways.

In short, the Sadducees accomplished for ancient Jews what many Americans value about the religious freedom we enjoy here. And Rome’s conditions were strikingly similar to those of America. Approved religionists may do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t step on the government’s toes. And, when asked, they must be willing to demonstrate allegiance to the empire.

First century Sadducean co-operators held political clout in Rome’s eyes and accomplished considerable good with it. But Jesus rejected their strategy and called his followers to follow suit. He decried the corruption of Jewish compromisers and anticipated the toppling of their central symbol: the glorious temple. As happened time and again, when Jewish allies were no longer useful, their pagan partners forsook them. By the end of the first century, the Romans had sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple for good.

But this wasn’t just the Sadducees’ fault. They weren’t the only Jews around. Other Jews branded the co-operators as sell-outs, staged protests against Rome, and hailed their own Jewish kings. Rebel factions rejected limited freedom under Rome and fought for complete autonomy. Still other Jews escaped the melee by hiding out in the wilderness.

The Sadducees had neither the strength nor the divine backing to hold it all together. The Jewish masses had a steadfast aversion to straddling two kingdoms. Such aversion manifested itself in a wide variety of ways. But it arose out of their weekly reading of sacred Scripture.

Eventually, Rome could no longer tolerate such an unwieldy people. They agreed with Jesus that one cannot serve two masters. So they chose Caesar, squashed the Jewish resistance, and demolished the temple. No one was spared—not the Sadducees, not the rebel zealots, not the pious Pharisees, and not even the separatists.

Missionary Impartiality

According to Jesus, this sorry state of affairs was God’s judgment on his people (Mark 13). They  collectively missed the boat. And their wannabe captains—the Sadducees—simply couldn’t commandeer the helm. In all fairness, God’s people had been rocking this boat for a long time. They never fully accepted God alone as their true king. Nor had they heeded his instruction that their human rulers must never be like the nations’ kings.

Yet Jesus asked Israel to take a step further. He formed them into a transnational and transterritorial kingdom community—the church. They would have their own politics: God’s all-encompassing order for their shared life together. These pockets of kingdom citizens would not be tied to the kingdoms of this world. They had different agendas, different means, and different futures.

Instead they would be tied to other kingdom communities. Together they formed a worldwide network under one king and one social-political vision—God’s kingdom. They weathered the storms raging in their communities with the strength and solidarity of this global network and by the empowering presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This political posture is unique in world history and has endured over two millennia. But it is also quite precarious. Since God’s kingdom communities are not territory-governing entities, they always live as aliens and exiles. All of them occupy territories that are governed by others. These others will never govern according to God’s kingdom vision. For God has decreed that they will pass away and will eventually be replaced by his trans-territorial kingdom. God is not turning world kingdoms into his kingdom; he is replacing them with his kingdom (1 Cor 15:24-25).

This is self-evident to many Christians living as minorities in countries where their presence is not welcome. Yet it is nearly impossible to comprehend for Christians who live in countries more hospitable to Christian faith. That is why they often assume it is their responsibility to make the kingdoms of this world more like the kingdom of God. To them, ability = responsibility.

More recently, however, western Christians gave up the imperial ambition of converting other nations into God’s kingdom. Now they strive to give people a better life outside of God’s kingdom. While altruistic mission drift may be better than imperialistic mission drift, it’s mission drift nonetheless.

It is precisely this drift that sucks contemporary Christians into the diabolical discourse of political partisanship. Because we want a better life for our neighbors, we want rulers with the best available approaches in power. So we pick sides, or we gravitate toward news and entertainment outlets that prop up our preferred side. They then condition us to see reality and interpret Scripture through their lens.

What is worse, we begin thinking negative thoughts about Christians who voted for the other side. We begin to see them as an enemy whom we need not love. We rail against easy targets on social media and promote articles or soundbites that tear them down. Though we may frame it in Christianese, all appearances suggest that we’ve chosen sides. We appear to align with party A against party B.

Let me suggest a different posture more in line with God’s mission for his people. I call it respectful disentanglement. This means resisting the overwhelming urge to choose sides. It means denying the impulse to make the political pundits’ talking points our talking points. This requires tuning out the media spin of the left and the right. For each one consistently portrays their opposition in the worst possible light.

It also means, dare I say, not getting sucked into a burgeoning independent party. We already are, by baptism, an independent party. Our “party” need not turn a deaf ear to the plight of our hurting neighbors. For we are part of an innovative and powerful political order that enters their plight with good news of God’s kingdom and not the platforms of partisan politics. “Our weapons are not carnal, but mighty!” (2 Cor 10:4)

Deceptive Political Responsibility

An unpublished essay by John Howard Yoder deftly exposes how easily Christians get sucked into the schemes of worldly kingdoms:

The question is often posed as if it were the choice of a Christian whether or not to “accept” a political responsibility. This is a deceptive way of loading the question and moving the burden of proof. It happens only with extreme rarity that anyone is invited to take political responsibility. Normally this responsibility must be sought after, and at no slight effort. In North America, the procedure for seeking after major office is such that only the wealthy can make the attempt. A successful campaign implies lining up with a party, exchanging silence on some issues for support on others, and in other ways taking action for which “accepting responsibility” is a very deceptive euphemism; the only proper description is “seeking after political power.” (“The Evangelical Christian and Modern War,” 1993)

The analogy to voting here is only partial. When it comes to voting, the governing authorities want our vote. They ask for it, pay for it, and even shame us into it. They call it our most sacred civic responsibility. And they invite us to rise up and accept it. But responsibility may only be given by one who has authority to give it. The invitation to vote or otherwise serve world empires comes from the rulers of those empires.

That does not make it the responsibility of Christians. Our only allegiance is to God’s kingdom (Matt 6:33). We confess Christ alone as Lord. Indeed, the only responsibilities God gives us with regard to the kingdoms of this world is to pay taxes, pray for rulers (1 Tim 2:1-4), and refrain from rebelling against or overturning governing authorities though they perpetually rule unjustly (Rom 12:13-7).

Governing authorities stand under God’s jurisdiction. He holds them responsible for containing evil among fallen orders that are passing away. God holds them accountable for that and they are free to recruit their kind to help them do it. We, too, are under God’s jurisdiction, but our responsibility is different. God’s people have been set apart as a priestly nation to do what only our kind can do. We have been called to embrace, display, and proclaim God’s kingdom, which is replacing the old orders of this fallen world.

Nowhere in Scripture does God assign the government’s tasks to his church. Nowhere does he encourage the state to lay its responsibility upon Christians. This is why Yoder’s quote speaks so incisively to our time. By allying with political parties and platforms through voting (and all the seldom acknowledged hard work and energy that goes into discerning how best to vote), are Christians executing the sacred trust that God has given us, or are we still lustily seeking after political power?

About John C. Nugent
John C. Nugent is the author of "Endangered Gospel," professor of theology, and co-host of the After Class Podcast. You can read more about the author here.
"Remember, a Cult is a religious group you don't belong to. That makes every religion ..."

Cults for Dummies
"“And the voice told Daddy there’s a million pigeonsWaiting to be hooked on new religions.”“Rhythm ..."

Cults for Dummies
"Immediate response: this was surprising!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Star Wars and the Book of ..."
"This was so beautiful. Ruth is one of my favorite people in history, Biblical or ..."

Interpreting Ruth – Part 1

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS General Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • B.J.D

    In other words: Vote Trump 2020.

  • MurphsLaw

    If you are a Christian, and you say- “I cannot vote for trump because he is a sinner” …. then you have misunderstood Christ’s embrace of the sinner and have thrown the proverbial first stone.
    Now if you don’t like his political policies then you can say- “do not vote for trump- his policies are wrong”.
    But we are voting up or down on morality. While we should always pursue the moral, virtuous life- cast a vote using that as criteria is untenable.

    Anyone who makes voting a “moral” issue (as if some politicians are more preferable than others based upon an interpreted severity of their moral failings-in which we all succumb to as well) then that decision to vote for him or her is totally subjective to that individual voter. Making a claim that voting for a trump candidate is wrong based upon some desired failing of morality issue, is a baseless one – and no one short of a saint could run for public office- and ask for someone to vote for them… including former Presidents……

  • I assume your’re talking about MurphsLaw’s comment and not the article.

  • Excellent points all! If I may add a few, voting is an issue not central to the Gospel, in spite of what socialist Christians claim. I has nothing to do with salvation. It’s like Paul’s discussion of eating meat vs. only vegetables or drinking wine. Essentially, Paul said “Shut up!” In other words, quit criticizing each other. And at the end of Romans he said to excommunicate those who cause divisions among Christians over non-essential issues.

    Almost all of the criticism about voting has come from self-righteous socialists. They claim to be “progressive” Christians, but the viciousness of their attacks causes me to wonder about their Christianity, and they’re not progressive, they’re regressive socialists. They can’t even be honest about who they are.

    Voting or not voting is not a Christian issue. But voting is a gift that we shouldn’t take lightly. If you don’t vote, and that’s fine, then be sure you really don’t care which person gets elected because if you have even a slight preference you’re abstaining is the same as a vote for the other person. If you vote for someone don’t worry about the name calling. The ones doing the name calling are proving they’re not Christians.

    Who should you vote for? The Protestant position on government is that the least is the best. It was the dominant Protestant position from the Reformation until the 20th century. Historically, Protestants never looked to the state to do the church’s work. The state should be limited to the night watchman status of protecting the life, liberty and property of citizens from attacks by the state and other citizens or nations. The church took care of the community, the poor and the family.

    “Liberal Christians,” meaning those dishonest people who deny the deity of Christ and his resurrection but continue to call themselves Christians, embraced atheistic socialism in the 20th century thinking they could perfect humanity through the brutal power of the state. These and a few gullible “Evangelicals” are the ones trashing other Christians for their votes for Trump.

    Trump was not a perfect candidate, but Jesus wasn’t on the ballot. But his Supreme Court selections show that he is moving the country slightly more toward greater freedom and smaller government, which is the traditional Protestant stance on government.

  • silicon28

    “…cast a vote using that as criteria is untenable.”

    I could no disagree more. Despite your absolute straw man argument that follows that statement, integrity, honor, morality and ethics MUST matter. The fact that you and others seem to say “oh well, no one is a saint” is largely why we have a current crop of political leaders with the morals of snakes and no ethical base whatsoever. With the logical conclusion of where you are going, no wonder Congress has single digit approval numbers. But I guess we should simply say, “Well, it could be worse?”

  • Voting is immoral. Human government is a criminal–viz., in constant violation of God’s law–organization its members having the same moral scruples as Mafia members, except Mafia operatives are likely to be more honest for they know what they are and don’t pretend to be upright nor delude themselves into believing that what they do is lawful. Those who vote are confidently expecting some benefits for themselves from the use of force, violence and coercion by government agents, starting with tax collectors.

  • Pennybird

    You are speaking to mainline Christians only. It is impossible for a right wing Evangelical to disentangle their politics from their religion since their religion is entirely political.

  • Pennybird

    People without the morals of snakes don’t run for office. The game is played in such a way that morals have to be set aside in order to obtain the money and connections to run a successful campaign. Then once in office, there are dues to pay. Some are obviously worse than others, and Trump has been worse than just about all others. This is why it makes more sense to base one’s vote on policies and not morality.

  • DoctorDJ
  • Maya Bohnhoff

    I think the question for me would be “can I vote for someone who violates God’s most sacred Law?”

    We all fall short of the Glory of God, so if we vote, voting for someone who has done this in one way or another by supporting policies we disagree with or having said or done something we feel is questionable is unavoidable. So is working for or with someone we feel is wrong-headed about (your issue here), sharing space with them, serving on various bodies with them. That’s the flip side of “render unto Caesar”, that we render unto God what is God’s. God has commanded us to love one another, whether or not our beliefs or world views are the same. He commands us to love even those we feel we should despise. (See Luke 10:25-38)

    More than that, He has made that Law the paramount Law on which all others depend. Hence, my question above: How can I, as someone who claims to believe in that divine Law, cast a vote for anyone who violates it? How can any policy or program of economic growth or fiscal success balance out the effects of such a violation? Do we believe that breaking God’s Most Great Law is without spiritual consequences?

    Following God’s Law isn’t just about the effects on us personally; it has consequences that resonate throughout our entire world. When we put people in power who are antagonistic to the spiritual reality we claim to believe in, how can we expect good fruit to follow? Can a believer that God is love, vote for a proponent of hate and division, knowing what the effects of that hatred can’t help but be destructive?

    Certainly, one cannot vote, but as lyricist Neil Peart pointed out “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

  • Maya Bohnhoff

    Whose greater freedom?

  • BertB

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

  • BertB

    Not greater freedom for women, that’s for sure. Not minorities, if freedom means equal opportunity for all. Freedom for corporations to pollute? Yup, I’ll give him that one.

  • BertB

    Let’s do a little thought experiment. Let’s say all Christians abstained from voting. Now there is still a government, and that government will make laws that Christians may not approve of…or provide funding for family planning services including (gasp!) abortion. And the actions of Christians are still subject to those secular laws, even though they think God’s law trumps those laws. If they break those secular laws, they will still end up in jail.
    Oh, and one more thing: They still have to pay taxes…the taxes that fund all those things they disapprove of.
    I think every non-voter, Christian or not, needs to think long and hard about that. Not voting is acknowledging that they are willing to let other people control some aspects of their lives. The only alternative I can think of is for them to take over some country and declare it a Christian theocracy, and invite all Christians to move there. The inhabitants of that country might object, though…

  • billwald

    I am glad I voted for President Trump and will do it again. Donald Trump is our first “ALL AMERICAN” president since Ronald Reagan. The rest have been internationalists and not acted in the best interest of the USA.

  • BertB

    Reagan was a disaster…economically, and fiscally (huge deficits). His administration was the most corrupt since Harding. Trump is trumping him in every dimension…any stimulus provided by his huge deficits has now been neutralized by his trade war with China and the rest of our trading partners. The Mueller Report makes it clear that he and his campaign team engaged in repeated efforts to obstruct justice. There is a lot more, but I know you aren’t listening.
    G’bye.

  • fractal

    Not so.

    That meme is propaganda, meant to make people cynical and uninvolved.
    I bet we’d all have a lot more moral behavior in politics if we had more women in office.

  • fractal

    Whatever, gramps.

  • fractal

    Considering the authoritarian structure of Church and Big Sky Daddy’s realm, I think Christians must love being told what to do, and letting others control them.

  • ollie

    While I tend to agree with what you say. I would agrue that the most likely argument most progressive Christians that vote is not if Trump it some other politician has a moral failing but instead which on will do the most damage to the world. More often then not we vote for the lesser of what we see as two evils.

  • Peter Cohen

    Personally, I think this was an excellent article and we are citizens of heaven and we do NOT fight with the weapons of the world. Bill Klemm, (whoever he may be) , detracts from this gist of the article – and implies that evil should be combated with evil. Should we have voted for Herod? I think that Trump can be compared to Herod. Christians are citizens of heaven and ambassadors of the kingdom of God – and we are a new humanity with no national borders or racial barriers. Jesus broke down dividing walls – Trump proposes building such walls.

  • ollie

    Trump hides his international interests behind. Nationalism! He doesn’t say that we will take care of the US and the rest of the world will take care of themselves. He says that if the rest of the world will not give us what we want, we will take it by force.

    When we look at Trump’s international policies vs Obama;s and G.W.B’s policies they have not moved much only the rhetoric has changed.

    Sorry Trump is an internationalist that put’s his policies in away that appears to be nationalistic in nature. The desire to control the world has not changed only the way that control should be maintained has changed.

  • ollie

    Actually the more Protestant that a country became the more social welfare that was provided by the state. The Church no longer had the power to collect money from the people (often against their will) for social programs.

    But of course the true argument in favor of a more conservative Christianity society is that slavery was good and shouldn’t have been abolished and that 5 and 6 year old children should should still be used to work dangerous jobs because it is wrong to provide support to people that can work.

  • BertB

    They are certainly okay with letting the Church direct their lives. But secular government ? Not so sure, although a lot of them don’t seem to mind Trump’s autocratic antics. I doubt if my thought experiment will happen, though. The fundagelicals have gotten more, not less, involved in politics in recent years. They represent a solid bloc, probably at least 25% of voters, that any Republican candidate can count on. The Dems have nothing comparable.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    When it comes to this situation, we’re met with a serious problem, “If you don’t vote about it, you have no right to complain about what happens.”
    Honesty; when can anyone manage to do this, especially the Conservative Christians who, it seems, have a complaint about everything that is not
    exactly Biblical in its unfolding and are more like Pharisees than Christians in what they say.
    Honestly, if you don’t vote – you don’t do your bit to tell the government what you want – you’ve committed the sin of Sloth. Further, since you won’t shut up, you obscure the problem with a “Holier-than-Thou” attitude that reeks of Hypocrisy.
    Seriously, VOTE! You may lose, but at least you can honestly say you tried,

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    And perhaps it’s “Show Business” with a slightly religious (not necessarily Christian) stage dressing?

  • fractal

    I think a dictator is exactly what Fundamentalists want—it is their temperament.

  • BertB

    Right. And that goes for believers and non-believers, conservatives and liberals.

  • Pennybird

    I agree with your last point, and also think it would help immensely to get the big money out of it.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    Absolutely. Religion has no place in the voting booth. I’m a Socratic in this so I tend to say unkind things about “Party-Line Voters” and about uneducated voters in general, but hey, at 71, I have a right to be crotchety. One of the greatest risks to democracy is democracy itself; while indeed we get the government we deserve under this system, under-informed voters can be a serious danger to the process. Socrates used the example of the Educated Doctor vs. the crooked Sweets-seller because the Doctor prescribed nasty tasting medicines that worked while the crooked Sweets-seller sold things that tasted good and the voters would always prefer the Sweets seller even if he was crooked because his products were pleasant and sweet;
    But testing for actual knowledge of what’s being voted on is Unconstitutional because it’s essentially a literacy test. So we wind up with Trumps and things. There has to be a better way, but we will have to merit it as a people to get it – that’s how a Democracy works.

  • BertB

    What depresses me about what you say…and you are correct…is that we muddled along for 200 years or so, and even though there were problems, things sort-of worked. But that started changing forty or fifty years ago, as partisan politics became increasingly confrontational. The election of Trump, in my opinion, is a symptom of a serious breakdown in our society. This man is unqualified to be President in so many ways! His actions have heightened the tensions not only in our society, but around the world. And yet a substantial part of the population supports him. If I were younger, I would seriously consider moving to another country.

  • 1FloridaMom2

    Sounds like BS to me

  • billwald

    “If the good people don’t vote for the least evil people, then the most evil people will gain control.”

  • BertB

    Yes, that is what has happened.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    What’s interesting is that every would-be tin-pot dictator uses Nationalism as their means to power. I do recall hearing that “Extreme Patriotism is the last resort of the Scoundrel”…but I never thought it would be so profoundly demonstrated until I listened to Trump. What’s odd is that the Republican party never used to be like this…conservative, yes; but willing to work across the aisle on needful bills. The current fortress mentality is not only new, it will harm them over time…but they don’t seem to care.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    Real freedom, and real equality generally consists of utter indifference. Freedom is constantly challenged by the fact that there is someone else in the room with you, and equality can be extremely unfair by not taking education, culture, or disability into consideration. Thus Equality isn’t about equals, and freedom must be enjoyed alone. What, IMHO, would be best is controlled indifference with respect given to obvious differences, as in not requiring the Frog to race against the Cheetah or the Ox to try to out pull the Elephant. Freedom would be best enjoyed through respect for others rather than the classic focus on self.
    The main problem, IMHO, is that we use nouns that are inaccurate to describe ideas that are impractical, which it totally human.

  • BertB

    Possibly harmful to the party, but certainly harmful to the nation. Conservatives used to rail about budget deficits, and now we hear not a peep from them about Trump’s trillion-a-year red ink. When Obama tried to use eminent domain to get some land for a project, Roger Ailes at Fox almost had a conniption fit. Now, Trump is trying to grab land for his wall on the southern border, and Fox is happy with that. The partisan hypocrisy is thick enough to cut with a knife. The next thing I expect to see happen is the death of the filibuster in the Senate, so that the narrow Republican majority can ram through their right wing bills. Of course, when the Democrats get back in power…and they will eventually…they will just repeal the crap…and then when the pendulum swings again…it’s seesaw government, swinging with the political winds. In other words, chaos and confrontation. It’s a step down the slope to the end of the Great Experiment that our founders envisioned. We are already several steps down that slope.

  • BertB

    Concentrating on oneself is the linchpin in the economic system called Capitalism.
    As Gordon Gekko said in the movie “Wall Street,” “Greed is good.”
    Conservative and Libertarian thought exemplifies this idea, that it’s “Every (wo)man for him/herself.”
    It’s the law of the jungle. Civilization tames it only slightly. I think that the current militancy of the Right is a last-ditch stand against the socialist/populist state. They try to portray themselves as populists, but they are a caricature of populism, The last thing they want is for the great unwashed masses of people in the lower economic classes to have power in government.

  • ollie

    I used to wonder how Hitler got into power. I no longer wonder. They don’t care because they have brought the lie that their neighbors are their enemies. That is how nationalism lies. In
    Germany it was the poor, the mentally and physically handicapped, Roma’s Catholics and Jews.

    In Today’s America (USA) take out the Jews and put in anyone with brown skin (including some Jews).

  • Darek Barefoot

    What a great essay! There’s just too much truth in it for it to gain any traction or much attention. Simply from what we can glean from the New Testament, we can tell that the Imperial government of Rome was frequently brutal, corrupt, and hostile to Christians (Luke 13:1; Acts 24:26-27; Mark 13:9). Yet Paul and Peter both tell believers to submit to the extent of paying taxes and avoiding anything like insurrection (Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14). Even so, the US was founded on refusal to pay taxes and on armed rebellion against a “king and governors.” If the American Revolution as a Christian cause can be reconciled with the New Testament, then the commands of Scripture can mean anything anyone wants them to. No wonder American Christianity is so fond of worldly means toward supposedly spiritual ends–the equivalent of turning back to Egypt (Acts 7:39).

    Jesus never contemplated his followers constituting other than a despised minority anywhere (Matt 24:9; John 15:19). His instructions are therefore suited to agents behind enemy lines, not infantry engaged in armed assault (John 18:36; 2 Cor 10:3-4). Jesus himself refused earthly kingship (John 6:15; “but think of all the good he might have done!”) and gave flight as the last resort in case of severe persecution (Matt 10:23). Jesus never issued a charter for an earthly nation, nor are his words appropriate for governing unbelievers. The nations live by the law of the jungle, and believers can never do so.

    However, when believers publicly identify a worldly personality–with all his fleshly thinking on public display–as God’s choice for earthly office, and thereby politicize the gospel, it is fair to point out the grave reproach that such an action brings upon the cause of Christ.