Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Silence of the Political Lambs

As I have mentioned before, I am an immigrant to America – a legal immigrant from the Bahamas. I moved to America on a student visa to attend college. Upon graduation, I married my college sweetheart with which I am now enjoying our 29th year of marriage. Through my wife, we applied for my green card so that I could work at the CPA firm that hired me to begin work that same year. At first, I was given a conditional green card. After the minimum one year on a conditional green card, I earned the right to be issued a permanent green card. After the minimum of two years with the permanent green card, we applied for my U.S. citizenship. I had to pass a written test that probably most Americans would fail. We then had to prove that we were still legitimately married. Finally, I had to pledge allegiance to America and be sworn in. It was one of the most exciting times of my life. But, the part that was most frustrating during this time was the fact that for those years, I had to pay taxes to a government for which I was not allowed to vote. I understood this legal limitation. But, it was frustrating nonetheless. After all, that is one of the reasons that our Founding Fathers fought and died to become independent – taxation without representation!

It amazes me today to watch so many “evangelicals” proverbially acting out because their candidate was not nominated. They have even expressed the willingness to do the exact opposite of what our Founding Fathers fought for. They say they are willingly deciding to sit out the election while paying taxes. They volunteer for taxation without representation. But, funnily enough, that does not stop many of these election spectators from speaking out against the nominee on social media. Needless to say, there is an absurd disconnect between speaking out (even lashing out and/or screaming out as in social media) over a dislike for the winning nominee, and then choosing not to vote. Both are the expression of opinion, but only one is politically effective. If the desire is not to influence the vote, then I guess the motive is to be heard - that is not a Spirit-led motive. What is more ironic, even borderline hypocritical, is to do one and refuse the other – an open contradiction. If a person is going to choose to not vote (a.k.a. be politically silent in the only poll that ultimately matters most), it is absurd for that person to devote time and energy to screaming at or about the ultimate nominee they don’t like on social media. Do you actually believe that your cyber rants will be more effective than your vote? Do you actually believe that you will affect the election in such an inconsistent way? Do you actually think this looks spiritually mature? Do you actually rely on ranting more than prayer? Do you pray for the nominee before you curse the nominee? Would cursing the nominee ever follow praying for the nominee? Do you actually believe that the nominee is more dangerous than the alternative?

With that background, let’s devote some time to all of the reasonable reasons why not to vote? Well, there are none. If you choose not to vote, I challenge you to think forward to the day that you have children (because I assume if you are not voting, chances are you are fairly young). One day you will have children and you will begin to teach them the importance of voting. At that point, you will not be able to escape the ironic conviction that you devalued voting in 2016. The truth is that voting is a privilege not to be taken or dashed away lightly. The number of nations where people are free to vote are growing slim. You may not like the candidates. But, is it the Holy Spirit that has told you not to vote or just your flesh? I have never heard one Christian say that the Holy Spirit has commanded them to sit this one out. I have never heard one Christian declare that not voting makes them a better Christian. You may not like either candidate, but that is expected of human reality. You will probably never like candidates if you actually get to know them. Candidates for President are required to be narcissistic just to consider running. They are morally deficient from the start.

Therefore, suck it up, put on your adult boots, research the platforms and qualifications, and pray. As you pray for the candidates, ask God which candidate He really prefers the most. Remember that He died for both of them. Ask Him for which candidate He would prefer you to vote. Then quiet yourself and listen for the still small voice of the Almighty Holy Spirit that lives within every Christian. Here are a few hints: God favors religious liberty, life, the rule of law, and respecting authority, just to name a few. Compare this list of God's favorite issues with the candidates and their platforms.

Voting has always been a tool God has used/commanded to choose many of His leaders throughout the Bible. In Deuteronomy 1:13, God commanded the Israelites, “Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.” That is a direct quote from God Himself. When we examine this verse against the backdrop of Romans 13, we understand that God asks us to choose our leaders, and God appoints them. It is not necessarily in that order, but we work together under God to select those who would have the privilege to govern us. We see the same dynamic in the New Testament in the way in which churches select Elders and Deacons. Christian, you should be the last person on Earth to forsake your privilege to vote in the election of the highest office in our land. After all, you will be hard pressed to find God supporting you in your abstinence.

In case that did not convince you, here are some more reasons (each secular, yet compelling) as to why every Christian should vote: 
  1. We are electing more than just the President. We are also electing the members of the House of Representatives, Senate, and all of the State and local representatives that are down the ballot.
  2. The higher the turnout, the more representative the government is. Choosing not to vote is beyond silly and more in keeping with oligarchy than representative democracy and self-government. And, if you don’t want to speak in the way of electing eligible representatives, why speak out at all? What then is your motivation?
  3. Voting is currently a right we freely enjoy that so many people are still fighting for in other countries. When that right is lost, you will crave for it. Don't take it for granted.
  4. Voting is your political voice. Voting is your shout. speaking out is closer to a whisper in comparison.
In 2012, the evangelicals stayed home because the Republicans nominated a center-right Mormon. And, that was foolish. Do you realize that Mitt Romney garnered less votes than John McCain in 2008? Do you realize that had Romney garnered the exact same number of votes as John McCain did in 2008, Romney would be President today? That is a fact. Not voting is foolish, which is also a fact. Given the freedom to have a say in choosing those who will govern you, and choosing to not exercise that freedom is foolish. My suggestion to those whom this post describes is to stop wasting energy on social media and transfer that energy to prayer and research of the candidates – all of the candidates, including those down ballot. And, vote! If, in the end, you carry your political ranting to full bloom by not voting, then the rest of us look forward to your silence post-election when you enabled the freedoms that the rest of us enjoy to be more rapidly eviscerated. If that is what happens, we don’t want to hear what you have to say all over social media – you practically forfeited the right to be heard by your absence in the voting booth, when your voice most counted. After all, not voting makes you the worst of sheep – a truly silent lamb. In politics, silent lambs are not cute, they are dangerous in such an election year as this. I heard it once said, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.”

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