Trump vs Hillary: 4 ways of looking at our current election choices
As things stand now, the presidential election this November will come down to Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump. Conservative Christians who have voted for conservative candidates—Republicans and Democrats alike—in the past, are wrestling through what to do this election.
There are four general reactions I see among Christian conservatives and others:
1. ‘Let’s stay home’
No major leader appears to endorse this strategy, but some people online indicate that if they must choose between Hillary and Trump, they’ll just skip the vote. There are two major problems with this. The first is, not voting is a choice. We live in a Democracy (or Republic, depending on who you ask), and for Christians to forgo voting is vacating a duty of citizenship. Secondly, there are more races to consider than just the presidency. In fact, many times the actions of judges, governors, legislators, mayors and even state ballot questions have a more immediate impact on our daily lives than who sits in the White House. Before you just stay home, consider the consequences of your inaction, and consider that you will be letting others decide the outcome(s).
2. ‘Let’s hold our noses and vote for…’
At the outset, there are many who didn’t really want Trump (or Clinton). In fact, many of them were slow to get on the Trump or Clinton trains. Within Evangelical circles, many of these are now flocking to “Team Trump.” Indeed Evangelical leaders like Robert Jeffress and Mike Huckabee are supporting Trump with gusto. Their main reason appears to be that what America needs is not a perfect person in office—or even a good person for that matter. We need a strong leader. One observer said that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are a weak person’s idea of a strong person and not truly strong people. Be that as it may, these form of Trump supporters usually use the line of argument, “A vote for anyone else is a vote for Hillary.” I am the first to admit, they may be right. At the same time, many Christians cannot stomach the idea of voting for someone like Trump, even if it is the lesser of two evils, in their thinking.
3. ‘I can’t vote Hillary and won’t vote Trump. Let’s find another person to vote for’
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska and a growing chorus of others appear to want a third party option to emerge. Time is running out for this option. There are significant reasons to think Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who formerly was Governor of New Mexico, may emerge as a third option. Johnson’s candidacy is fraught with its own problems, such as his support for legalized prostitution. Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore has spoken about finding a third party. Dr. Moore has said, “Given (my) moral convictions, there have been times when I’ve faced two candidates, both of whom were morally disqualified. In one case, one candidate was pro-life but a race-baiter, running against a candidate who was pro-choice. I could not in good conscience put my name on either candidate. I wrote in the name of another leader. Other times, I’ve voted for a minor party candidate.” Currently, though, those who want to vote third party have slim pickings.
4. ‘Let’s write in a name or leave it blank’
Russell Moore also said, “When Christians face two clearly immoral options, we cannot rationalize a vote for immorality or injustice just because we deem the alternative to be worse. The Bible tells us we will be held accountable not only for the evil deeds we do but also when we “give approval to those who practice them (Rom. 1:32).” Some agree with Dr. Moore and some do not. In Oklahoma, a write-in ballot is not allowed. You can, however, leave the presidential candidate blank and vote for other offices and issues. If enough Christians did this, one benefit would be to send a signal that we don’t want any of these leaders and believe it would be wrong to simply go along with “the lesser of two evils.” The practical outcome, however, means that those who don’t leave it blank get the final say-so.
In the end, Christians must prayerfully determine what God—not what people or a political Party—is asking us to do. Because, after all, it is God Who holds us accountable for the leaders we help to power, or that He allows to rise to power. Lord, help us.