Jake Vander Ark
October 2, 2012
Is one party better than another, or one candidate than another? Perhaps, but I can't tell from this article.
I don't know anything about Mr. Johnson, but I do know that the vilification of the Democratic and Republican parties in these opening paragraphs misrepresents what those parties stand for as a whole. Selectively picking out some problems without attempting to balance them against what the parties do well unfairly magnifies those problems out of proportion.
The real danger is that if we as Christians feel free to engage in this type of rhetoric about political parties (point out faults and demonize from there), it is tantamount to doing the same about the people in those parties. Those people, whether fellow Christians or not, deserve better as those made by God in his image.
That said, Jake, libertarianism as a political philosophy has some very attractive aspects and you have depiceted them well at some points in this article. Thanks for your thoughts on that.
Beautifully put! I think so many people are put off by the idea of voting for someone who "can't win," but that's such a simple and dangerous way of looking at it. Right now, if you vote Republican or Democrat you ARE choosing between "the lesser of two evils." But there is a movement that's pulling away from that, and we can be a part of it. If I decide to vote for one of the two candidates that are the most likely to win, I may feel a little more like my vote 'counted,' but that's such a small-minded way to look at things. The ultimate goal is that this system will change, become less corrupt, allow people like Gary Johnson or Ron Paul to actually matter in the conversation... I am working toward the bettering our government and political system. Am I doing that by voting for the slightly less bad candidate who might win year after year? Am I really contributing anything? I'm voting for Gary Johnson not because I think he's the most likely to win, but because i know that my vote counts toward the movement. It counts toward the ultimate goal. I'm not okay with things staying the same. People need to wake up and start looking at the bigger picture. You may look at me and see a vote that didn't count. But in a few years when candidates that stand (consistently!) for what I believe in start mattering to all voters... when they actually CAN win, I will know my vote did count.
Thanks for your well-articulated thoughts, Tim!
Although I wouldn't call it "vilification," I do agree that pointing out the flaws in a party's stance misrepresents what the parties stand for. But if we only discuss a party's good intentions without looking at their epic failures, how can we have a meaningful, progressive discourse? Obama has proven that what he stands for and what he does are very different... to focus only on his stance would not accurately portray his success as a president.
I'm not sure I understand your second point. Are you suggesting that nobody should ever speak poorly about a political stance because we might be including other people in our criticism? Yes, people are made in God's image... but they're also flawed humans with the potential to do harm. Let's push it to the extreme: If Obama randomly kills a US citizen in the name of democracy, do we bite our tongues because condemning Obama is the same as condemning all of God's children who call themselves Democrats?
Just some thoughts : ) Thanks again for taking the time to respond to the blog!
Thanks for your great article so eleoquantly written. Believe you summed everything up in exactly the way things are and will be if
Gov. Gary Johnson IS NOT Elected as our President!!
Thanks for the dialog, Jake.
My second point flowed from the first. Unfair vilification of a party is the problem. As I put it above, "this type of rhetoric about political parties (point out faults and demonize from there), ... is tantamount to doing the same about the people in those parties."
Criticism can be fair and called for. Unfair criticism is never called for. That was my second point.
If the accusations are false, I understand your problem with the first half of the post.
If they're true, I think most people would agree that it isn't "unfair" or "uncalled for" to criticize them.
It seems we only disagree on the validity of my accusations. If not, maybe I'm not sure what you mean by "fair and called for."
Either way, thanks for the response!
You said, "But how does a Christian endorse a candidate who wonâ€™t punish personal vices or force charity through taxation?"
What is considered a personal vice to you?
Abortion? Same-sex Marriage? War?
At some point we need to, as a country, define what and where our morality is grounded. Until we do that, we can not be unified.
Seems to me that the Declaration of Independence spells that out clearly. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Where do the rights of a mother override the rights of her unborn child? Where do the rights of homosexuals as a group override the rights of the individual? Where does it say that we should not defend our soil from tyranny and terrorists?
At some point we must look to what is morally best for this country or let it go.
Is Gary Johnson the best candidate for the job? I'm not convinced. And I live in New Mexico where he did a great job fiscally speaking. But there is a lot that wasn't done, that could have been done if a Godly moral grounding was considered.
So when you vote for our next President just remember, We all are free to make the choices we choose to make. But none of us are free from the consequences of those choices.
But my point is that accusations taken in isolation, even if true, can also be unfair if presented out of the overall context. Here's an example.
"That man is horrible at managing his finances. That means he has horrible judgment. His ideas must be horrible too. He might even be a horrible person. Let's not listen to anything he says."
Is that oversimplified and extreme? Sure, but it makes the point that even a fact-based criticism can be presented unfairly. I bet God would rather we don't do that.
"We all are free to make the choices we choose to make. But none of us are free from the consequences of those choices."
Best comment I've read on a blog in a long time, Albert.
Ah, that makes more sense. So you agree that the facts are straight, but they weren't placed in context with the good things each candidate has done.
I did my best to keep the post short and readable, and in this effort, lost the positive aspects of both Obama and Romney. To clarify (if it's not too late), I think both candidates have many good qualities in addition to their problems.
However, I never suggested that either candidate was a horrible person, or made assumptions beyond the initial claims. The example you gave wasn't just "presented out of the overall context" as this article may have been, but goes as far as to call a person horrible, which this article doesn't do. I will defend my point that, no matter what nice things these children of God have done, their actions (or proposed actions) are hurting over 300 million people.
My biggest fear is that we continue to tip-toe around these problems. If we balance every broken promise, well-intended bad idea, or breach of liberty with a loving reminder that "candidates are people too," we reinforce the "lesser of two evils" mindset. It's great that Obama has good qualities, but he also lied, chased fake ideals to the detriment of our country, and sacrificed our liberties. I don't think we should sugarcoat that.
Regarding your last statement, I'm pretty sure I can find examples of God's scathing accusations against cities and individuals where he too ignores the good...
Hey Albert, thanks for the great reply!
First of all, I should immediately clarify that I am a Libertarian for Life, meaning I believe a fetus has rights. Luckily, Gary Johnson plans to define life at the viability stage, which I think is a big step in the right direction.
In this context, I would consider personal vices to be drug use, prostitution, gambling, etc. Not abortion, same-sex marriage or war (though I do think same-sex marriage should be legal).
The question of morality is a difficult one, especially in a country with so many different variations. And it's these variations that scare me. You mentioned "unification." Do you think it's possible to use morality to unify an country when morality is defined so differently by so many people groups? How can we use Christian values to connect with people from other faiths? The ONLY way to unify the country is through freedom. Suddenly, Christians and Muslims are unified in their liberty instead of battling over the definition of morality. And I think this concept fits exquisitely with your quote from the Declaration of Independence.
"Where do the rights of a mother override the rights of her unborn child?" - Like I mentioned earlier, they don't.
"Where do the rights of homosexuals as a group override the rights of the individual? - I'm not sure what you mean here... but again, they shouldn't! If there is a time when homosexuals are taking away the rights of an individual, I would disagree with that.
"Where does it say that we should not defend our soil from tyranny and terrorists?" - I have no problem defending our country, or declaring purposeful wars. I certainly didn't suggest otherwise in the article!
That's a great closing statement... and it's something I consider daily!
Thanks again for joining the discussion!
"So you agree that the facts are straight"
I don't recall saying that.
I thought the ultimate goal is to glorify God. If it applies to eating and drinking (1 Cor. 10:31), I'm sure it applies to voting.
Of course the ultimate goal is to glorify God, and, frankly, your response doesn't seem quite fair. We're trying to have a political discussion, and it's okay to disagree, but that feels like a cheap way out.
Now, as far as glorifying God, do you really think a vote for Romney or Obama would be doing that? Do you really think a vote for Gary Johnson wouldn't be? The fact is, God called His PEOPLE to do his work, and His people can do so much for His kingdom when they are free of excessive government control. Sure, you can vote for someone now who seems to have good morals and a good Godly plan in mind, but like Jake said, once you give one person a certain amount of power, you can't take it away from the next person, no matter how much you disagree with them. I won't go into that more, because I know you already read the article.
So, yes, I think the ultimate goal is to glorify God. And yes, I think a vote for Gary Johnson is the way to do that.
I'm not sure that you've given practical advice on a very difficult decision that everyone needs to wrestle with. What, exactly, would be the logical step to take in this election if one is seeking to glorify God?
Alli, I didn't mean to sound flippant and I am sorry for the truncated comment that did not flesh out my thoughts on the matter. What I was getting at is that there are a number of ways for us to glorify God and for some believers it can happen with a vote for Johnson and for others a vote for Romney or Obama or whoever.
The ultimate goal of my vote is not to change the system, nor even to obtain a political end. It is to serve God. How I cast my vote will be in pursuit of that goal, whether it is by voting for the same person you happen to vote for or not.
As for the premise that we "are trying to have a political discussion", I think the three articles here at TC on presidential voting suggest otherwise. From what I read in them, what TC is trying to do is help Christian think through what it means to live out their faith and the context here just happens to be the presidential election.
In fact, all of TC is like this. The cultural articles aren't written for the main purpose of engaging in culture, nor the relationship ones for relationships, nor the movies ones for movies, etc. This site says there is no such thing as secular. I agree. And these three articles on the election are about so much more than mere politics.
Makemenfree - was your question ever answered? Was it meant for Jake or Tim?
I just can't thank you enough for this beautifully written article. I stumbled across it a few nights ago, and I've come back to it many times since. I perfectly sums up my feelings about being a Libertarian and a Christian. I wish I had a megaphone to shout to America the words you've written here,"If we bestow a Christian leader the power to enforce his religion, how do we remove that power when we elect a president of a different faith? The solution is simple: keep the government small and spread Christian morality on an individual basis." Wonderfully, wonderfully done.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad there are others out there who share this unique point of view... now it's time to spread the word!
Thanks again for your thoughts. I hope you'll share this page with your friends!
Add your comment to join the discussion!