Wow! That was my reaction when I checked a week ago Friday morning to see if anyone had left a comment on the Musing I wrote about Ted Cruz’ speech at the Republican convention. There were more views to my page by 9 a.m. than I usually get within 24 hours. A few hours later, my husband mentioned that Facebook was going wild with comments about my words. So it continued. People were agreeing, politely disagreeing, grateful for and wildly upset by my words. What is my take-away and why am I going to stir the cauldron by continuing the debate as well as introducing the topic of Trump and abortion?
What I learned from the response to my Musing and from the conversation around our Shabbat table on Friday night when our guests happened to be involved, intelligent and articulate conservatives, was how passionately people feel about this race. What is different about the passion in this race versus past election cycles is that the divide is within the Republican/conservative side, not a function of Republican/conservatives vs. Democrat/liberals. I was not a Romney fan which made me miserable leading up to the 2012 election, but I didn’t think that those who loved him were unprincipled or destroying my country. I voted for him and never once questioned whether I should vote for his opponent.
Since I’m willing to state that over 90% of those reading my Musing and/or our ministry’s Facebook page are people with whom I share values and a love for our country, it is awe-inspiring that there is a wide range of opinions and a willingness to discuss and listen to different views. When I write a political column, it is often as a way of putting my own thoughts in order. I value intelligent feedback because it hones and shapes those thoughts. Most of the comments I received, on all sides of the issue, were thoughtful. For this reason, I’m going to continue laying out my thinking. I am not a prophet and I am not the smartest or most knowledgeable voter. I can certainly be wrong. My thoughts on this election are a work in progress. As of now I am steadily moving towards the view that not only do I need to vote for Donald Trump, no matter how much I wish there was a better choice, but I need to do what I can to see that he wins. At the same time, I carefully consider what others are saying, including those who say that they have vowed never to support someone who is ‘pro-choice.’
Years back, Dr. James Dobson told my husband and me, as I’m sure he’s told many others, of his commitment to never vote for someone who supported abortion. However important other issues were, abortion was his, ‘line in the sand,’ issue. A number of commenters to my Musings reflected the same idea as a reason that they cannot vote for Donald Trump. When I heard Dr. Dobson, his words made a great deal of sense to me. I’m not sure they are still able to be writ in stone. What happens if, as is the case this year, one party and candidate stand for activism on abortion while it is unclear where the other candidate stands, thought his party’s views are clear?
I’d like to play through the scenario we have.
Hillary Clinton stands for a pro-abortion stance on steroids. Her record suggests that she will use government power to punish those who disagree with her and to brainwash any youth whose schooling she can touch. Abortion is only one of the anti-Godly social messages she will do her best to promote.
Donald Trump’s views on abortion and other social issues are murky. However, at worst, they aren’t major issues on his agenda. Whatever his personal beliefs are, there is no reason to suspect that he will use his political capital or the hammer of government to force them on America. Furthermore, because social issues such as abortion don’t roil his gut, he will be open to listening to social conservatives and evangelical supporters. (One of the reasons I think Cruz was ego-driven rather than principled is that if Trump is president it is important that he feels beholden to religious Jews and Christians. Cruz could have had an opening to speak to a President Trump. He no longer does.)
If one candidate represents negative X on the social values scale while the second is negative X to the nth degree, would it really salve my conscience to proclaim that I will vote for neither one? Can I pat myself on the back if the result of my principled stand is that more fetuses are aborted, more elderly and ill people are murdered through physician-assisted suicide and teenage suicides increase as young people are indoctrinated from pre-school to be obsessed with gender confusion and sexual immorality?
Third-party and write-in votes
I have not always voted for the Republican candidate for president. In some elections, I have voted for a third-party candidate and once I left the presidential box blank. This time is different. Each time I chose an option other than voting for one of the prime candidates, my vote was not going to make a difference. Due to the state I lived in, the result was foreordained. I had the luxury of using my vote to try and send a message to the Republican leadership of how dissatisfied I was with the choice they were offering. (Had millions of others done the same and had the leadership taken their collective head out of the sand and recognized the just and passionate discontent of so many Republicans, I don’t believe Donald Trump would have been the candidate this year.)
I don’t believe the option of sending a message by not voting for either Hillary or Trump exists this time around. In my opinion, every state is in play. This election cycle does not have a historical precedent. That means that each of us must think of ourselves as the deciding vote. Whether we vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or whether we vote for a write-in or a third party candidate or we leave that box blank, we must be willing to live with the idea that we might be responsible for electing whomever wins the race.
The personal choice that I see myself as having is this: I can vote for Hillary and feel like a traitor to my country and beliefs. I can vote for a third-party candidate or write-in and feel like a coward. I can vote for Trump and feel besmirched. Right now, I am planning to choose #3. You may have a completely different calculation. I am not suggesting that if you do, you are either a traitor or a coward; that reckoning only works for my own thinking for myself. In my opinion, with full knowledge that God can step into history and override human choices, the natural result of a Democrat victory will be the demise of the Constitution. I don’t believe that freedom of speech, religion or 2nd Amendment rights will be anything other than meaningless words four years down the road.
This election is an agonizing one for many of us. Actually, the one point of view I struggle to respect is that of anyone who is convinced that either candidate is a great choice. In this election, voters’ largesse of spirit and mutual respect are needed in a greater way than other elections have demanded.
As it gets more uncomfortable to speak with people with whom we disagree politically,
let’s use Bible study as a bridge and as a means to test our views to see how they ally with Scripture.
I encourage you to listen to and share this 2 audio CD Set.