You have to vote.
I’m making an exception to my policy of not posting on politics. The times demand it. I’ll still refrain from naming names, since that’s one aspect of my policy I still don’t want to violate. I’ll speak on a principle level instead. Of course I’m speaking to my U.S. readers especially at this time.
You are called to join in leadership of this democracy. You’re in the process whether you like the process or not, and whether you vote or not. It’s up to you to work with the people God has given you to work with—including the candidates on the ballots—and to do so effectively toward the best possible outcome, even if it’s not the perfect outcome.
So you have to vote.
Even if there’s no candidate who fully satisfies your criteria, you have to vote.
What Is Politics?
Politics is best understood as the art of working together with people effectively to accomplish things together. Its bad reputation comes from its combative nature, and from human flaws best captured in Lord Acton’s famous axiom on power and corruption.
It has never been a pure sport. It is an art. It involves people at every turn. At times its seems like an evil, though a necessary one; but God ordained government (Romans 13), and our democratic form is the best devised so far.
Character counts considerably. True leadership requires the ability to stay the course regardless of temptations to corruption. Every human is subject to that temptation, and politicians are so widely known for succumbing to it that it’s hard to count on any of them being men or women of character. Nevertheless there are distinctions among politicians: some have clear track records of deceitfulness and manipulation. I would choose a candidate who seems possibly honest over one who has proved she or he cannot be. (I’ve met one or two truly honest politicians, too.)
As for candidates’ religions, we are not voting for pastoral leaders but for men and women who will be called on to accomplish public policy agendas; so choose according to whomever you think will be most effective in pursuing the best policies, regardless of their religion.
Choose the Better Imperfect Candidate
Elections are always choices between imperfect candidates. Usually one is less imperfect than the other. The winner is going to be your leader in that jurisdiction.
Add that all together and a clear principle emerges: Choose the local, state, and national candidates who stand closest to your position on the issues you care about, even if they are not perfectly in agreement with you.
The Integrity of Voting For Less Than Perfection
Some believers have expressed anxiety over a hope for purity that can never be realized. I strongly encourage you not to withhold your vote over some candidate’s lack of pure doctrine in the things you hold dear. Right to life is the most salient issue for which it’s possible to define a “pure” position. Religious belief is another. Maybe no candidate is perfect on these issues. Usually one is better than another.
God doesn’t demand that you stand on a principle of perfection when you work with people. If he did, then he would be requiring us to be ineffective in working with people. The world he’s placed us in doesn’t work that way. So clearly he supports us in voting for imperfect people.
There’s no violation of integrity there. Your vote is not about enumerating all your principles. It’s about accomplishing the best possible public policy.
So vote. You must vote.