Wednesday, July 6, 2016

It Is A Matter of Conscience

I love politics.

It's in my blood.

Both of my grandfathers were Roosevelt New Dealers.  Both held local offices and one served a couple of terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

I have a cousin who has run for elective office, and I have done so myself in two local (nonpartisan elections). I lost in a bid for City Commissioner in the city where I live, and I won in an election for the Board of Education.  I loved having that privilege go serve our community and to do the little I could do personally to enhance the learning environment of the children of Ashland, KY.

The term I served was full of challenges, and although some situations were very difficult, I was thankful to be part of the solutions.  When time came to file for re-election, I had begun to make plans to purchase yard signs, look into local advertising and begin the campaign until the Lord impressed on my heart, "I didn't call you into public service.  I called you into ministry!"

No, He did not speak to me in an audible voice. It was much louder than that!  So from that point on, I have focused more fully on the pastoral ministry where I am called. I am an American and thankful for that fact, but my eternal citizenship is in a Kingdom - not of this world.

That ministry, however, does not keep me from exercising my franchise to cast my ballot when the opportunity arises.  When I registered to vote (about 100 years ago) I registered in WV as a Democrat.  Dad was a Democrat. My grandfathers were also.  About EVERYBODY in WV was at that time.  As time passed and I began to realize that my civil duty of voting should be influenced fully by my Biblical world view, I began to realize that the platform of the National Democratic Party was not compatible with some of my core beliefs, By the time I moved to Kentucky in 1980 I felt that it was a good time to change parties. I registered Republican, since the national party's platform was more in line with my social and fiscal conservative viewpoint.  Ronald Reagan led the party, and I bought into the "morning in America" thing. I took an active role in local politics and supported candidates (usually Republicans) whom I believed to share my values. Only one time in my life did I ever vote a straight ticket - but that is another story for another time.

Eventually  I became a bit convicted that a Pastor should be more careful even in the political realm of life.  I minister to people who belong to both major political parties. We seek to win lost people to Christ, and that involves EVERYONE.  While I still hold strong to my Biblical world view, I will not let partisan politics be a stumbling block to those I seek to win to Christ, or to those that I am responsible to shepherd in the local flock.  Knowing that Almighty God does not ride on the backs of Donkeys OR Elephants, I changed my voter registration to Independent.  Although I do have strong personal political views, I purposed to publicly stay away from endorsing political candidates in partisan races.  I have my opinion and I will share it, and debate (in a gracious manner) with anyone who would like to do so, privately.  I will not bring partisan politics into the pulpit.

Now that doesn't mean I won't address moral issues that have become politicized (ie. Abortion, Same Sex Marriage, etc) but I will address such issues from the Biblical standpoint - NOT to endorse political candidates.  So I walk a fine line between my interest in politics in general (as my wife can tell you) and my mission to proclaim the Gospel.

That brings me to the subject of our upcoming Presidential election this November.

For whom should I vote?

I have never faced a more challenging personal decision in the political realm.  It IS a matter of conscience to me, and at this point I cannot bring myself to vote for EITHER of the major party's candidates.  Certainly there is a third party option, but with Gary Johnson polling at about 10%, he is not likely a viable choice, and I really don't know enough about him at this point to make an informed judgment.

It really comes down to the choice between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, and that is where I come to a screeching halt. With 300 million people living in this land, do you mean to tell me that THESE TWO are the best candidates we can come up with for the position President, the highest office in the land?

God help us!

Hillary Clinton's social and fiscal policies are abhorrent to my conscience.  Besides the flip flopping she has done throughout the years, the corruption and dishonesty, and absolute disregard for the truth that she has displayed goes beyond what I think that any person who shares my beliefs could possibly support. Her campaign and personal actions reflect the political crony-ism and corruption that one would witness in the "House of Cards" series on Netflix.  I cringe at the thought of  Hillary Clinton sitting in the seat of Washington, Lincoln, Truman, and Reagan.  Commander in chief of our military, and leader of the free world.  She represents so much of what is wrong in American politics, creating the backlash that has brought about the phenomena of Bernie Sanders and yes, Donald Trump.

Now, I know that some of my high profile pastoral brethren have jumped on the Trump bandwagon, if for no other reason than "He's not Hillary!"  But I have to take a stand otherwise.

"The Donald" is basically running on celebrity status, fear mongering, and name calling.  I admire his business acumen.  He inherited a fortune from his father, and although filing for bankruptcy several times in some of his companies, he has grown his fortune, and has employed thousands in his various business endeavors.  That being said, economics, business and jobs are not all that is involved in this election. There is the matter of morals. He criticizes the abysmal personal behavior of Mrs. Clinton's husband, when Trump, himself is a serial adulterer, and has bragged about it.

We long for someone of character to lead us. It's just not there.  Clinton is a proven liar, whose stand on the issues change however the winds blow. Her actions and those of her cronies have proven that she thinks she is above the law.   Trump is an amoral nightmare.  Other than "building a wall" and making Mexico pay for it" I have not heard a single specific idea he has advanced as to he intends to deal with the problems that face our nation and our world. His bombastic style and arrogance may appeal superficially to those who are disenchanted with the status quo, but folks, name calling, race baiting, fear mongering, and arrogance are not qualities I am looking for in a candidate for the highest office in the land.

I could go on and on, but it just comes down to this.  I cannot in good conscience, vote for either of the two major party candidates.

I will certainly go to my polling place at Charles Russell Elementary school this November and exercise one of my most valuable rights as an American citizen.  I will cast my vote for men and women (both Republican and Democrat) in local, state and national races, who I believe are people of character, and those I feel I can trust to faithfully execute the duties of their office in an honest and trustworthy manner.  But I cannot in good conscience vote for either of the two major party candidates at the top of the ticket. I'm not sure yet exactly what I'll do, whether I'll vote for the 3rd party candidate, or even write in the name of someone. But I cannot in good conscience push the button for Clinton or Trump.

It's a matter of conscience.  You do what you think is right, but it comes down to this for me.

The lesser of two evils - is still evil.

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