I Am Not Undecided. I Am Appalled.

For the first time in my life I did not vote for a presidential candidate today. Oh, I voted. I voted for all other offices national, state, and local and I voted on all the propositions that overwhelmed the California ballot this year. But I didn’t vote for president. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever not done.

I am not undecided. I am appalled. I am appalled by the dishonest, angry rhetoric of this campaign that has further divided our nation at a time when we need to humble ourselves. I am appalled that both political parties have been corrupted by special interest money that rewards political cronies rather than to champion justice in our society. I am appalled that both campaigns preferred to spread lies about the other than to inspire the citizenry to a higher common good worthy of the place we hold in the world.

And while I have more in common with Bush’s agenda than I do Kerry’s, I found myself grieving President Bush’s arrogance in the face of truth. The fact that he doesn’t seem to learn from past mistakes left me less confident that he should be entrusted with the awesome might of our military and the lives of young people who serve in it. I kept waiting for him to demonstrate some humility and a desire to cooperate with others that speaks of the Father he claims to follow. I never saw it.

I know that risks the wrath of people like Chuck Colson who wrote in his Breakpoint commentary a few days ago: “Voting is not an option for Christians. It’s a biblical duty, because by voting we carry out God’s agency; we are His instruments for appointing leaders.” I’m not so naïve as to think that we are the instruments by which God carries out his purpose in these things, however important I deem voting to be. And I reject his assertion that voting is a biblical duty when it isn’t even mentioned in Scripture. It does say clearlyl that he is the one that raises up rulers and removes them from office. He has already chosen our next president, for whatever reasons best serve his purposes in the earth.

Could Jesus have said it any more clearly than he did to Pilate? “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting…” While I would say Jesus uses our participation as responsible citizens in whatever environment we find ourselves, I think it is a grave misunderstanding to think that we alone are his agency to appoint leaders. Nor should we assume that we can fight with the world’s weapons (including political campaigns) and not end up pressed into the world’s mold.

In the end I could not bring myself to vote for either candidate, or for any of those from the lesser parties. I wasn’t looking for a perfect person but a man worthy of the office to which he aspired. I did not want to merely vote for the one least flawed. So I guess I did vote today. I voted in protest against an election process I found repulsive and against two candidates who acted more like name-calling bullies on a kindergarten playground than statesmen who would put the common good above their own self-interest.

So instead of voting for a candidate I did not respect, I grieved for the state of our nation today and I prayed. I prayed for the eventual winner whomever that might be. (Since the campaigns have amassed $78 million for post-election litigation we may not know who that is for some time if the election stays close.) When our next president is finally elected, I pray God would visit him in the night and reveal himself to that man. I pray he would have the humility of heart to bind up the wounds of this election and not exploit them for political gain. I pray he would walk gracefully before the world and lead our country with wisdom in these difficult days. And I pray he would be a man of compassion and justice for the powerless in our world.

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18 Comments
  1. eddie November 2, 2004 at 4:59 pm

    You are a voter after my heart. I hear you brother. This is the leaven of Herod that Jesus warned us about. Change is needed, but there I go again …

    😉

  2. Chris Stewart November 2, 2004 at 5:56 pm

    My sentiments exactly. This is also the first time since I was old enough to vote that I opted out of voting for President.

  3. steve s November 2, 2004 at 6:46 pm

    I think that it is a right NOT to vote. However, I think that voting for the man is really not the point of the Presidential election. I think that is a mistake to look at it that way.

    In my opinion people should be voting for issues that the Party stands for. Its the appoinments that are made and the type of laws that will be introduced.

    We have of course the partial birth abortion, murder, issue. Supreme Court Justice appointments effect this greatly. Embryonic stem cell research which is still unproven while there is recorded successful progress made in human beings health by umbilical cord stem cell is another issue that I think is important. This issue is an extension of the abortion issue. It’s a shame that there is no reporting about the success done by methods that do not kill embryos. All because it is not politically correct to speak against abortion.

    I have no problem with people not voting but wish that there would be more to the decision than not liking either candidate. In this world we do have to choose between the lesser of evils at times.

  4. Chris Stewart November 2, 2004 at 7:43 pm

    The "lesser of two evils" is still evil.

    I researched and did my best to measure the candidates by whether they enhance human life, human dignity, and human rights; whether they strengthen family life and protect children; whether they promote racial reconciliation and support gender equality; whether they serve peace and social justice; and whether they advance the common good rather than only individual, national, and special interests.

    Just as much as abortion and gay marriage, I believe that poverty—caring for the poor and vulnerable—is a moral, religious issue… and the loss of innocent human life (possibly many of our brothers and sisters) all over the world is also a moral and religious issue.

    Having considered these things… neither candidate nor their policies satisfied my conscience, and I chose to exercize my right not to vote.

  5. eddie November 2, 2004 at 7:59 pm

    You are a voter after my heart. I hear you brother. This is the leaven of Herod that Jesus warned us about. Change is needed, but there I go again …

    😉

  6. steve s November 2, 2004 at 8:30 pm

    Chris,

    I think many Christians have over spiritualized the whole process and expect too much.

    I guess I am becoming more convinced that we weigh things out the best we can. You’ve done what you’ve felt you should. I think that we are not out to create a theocracy and realize that the President will not be Jesus Christ. Anyone else WILL have some evil attached to them, even me

    (actually especially me)!

    To be honest, if an incompetent Christian ran and a good nonchristian ran I have no problem voting for the nonchristian. Just like going to a doctor. I don’t go to him for spiritual advice but for him to do his job.

    1 million abortions a year sure does seem to carry a lot of weight.

    I’m still learning though and my postion may change by the next election!

  7. Chris Stewart November 2, 2004 at 8:56 pm

    My sentiments exactly. This is also the first time since I was old enough to vote that I opted out of voting for President.

  8. steve s November 2, 2004 at 9:46 pm

    I think that it is a right NOT to vote. However, I think that voting for the man is really not the point of the Presidential election. I think that is a mistake to look at it that way.

    In my opinion people should be voting for issues that the Party stands for. Its the appoinments that are made and the type of laws that will be introduced.

    We have of course the partial birth abortion, murder, issue. Supreme Court Justice appointments effect this greatly. Embryonic stem cell research which is still unproven while there is recorded successful progress made in human beings health by umbilical cord stem cell is another issue that I think is important. This issue is an extension of the abortion issue. It’s a shame that there is no reporting about the success done by methods that do not kill embryos. All because it is not politically correct to speak against abortion.

    I have no problem with people not voting but wish that there would be more to the decision than not liking either candidate. In this world we do have to choose between the lesser of evils at times.

  9. Chris Stewart November 2, 2004 at 10:43 pm

    The "lesser of two evils" is still evil.

    I researched and did my best to measure the candidates by whether they enhance human life, human dignity, and human rights; whether they strengthen family life and protect children; whether they promote racial reconciliation and support gender equality; whether they serve peace and social justice; and whether they advance the common good rather than only individual, national, and special interests.

    Just as much as abortion and gay marriage, I believe that poverty—caring for the poor and vulnerable—is a moral, religious issue… and the loss of innocent human life (possibly many of our brothers and sisters) all over the world is also a moral and religious issue.

    Having considered these things… neither candidate nor their policies satisfied my conscience, and I chose to exercize my right not to vote.

  10. Silvio November 2, 2004 at 11:30 pm

    Hi I’m not american, though I love this country – I actually lived there for 3 years – and as a journalist living in NY city says 2 dasy agos, what’s incredible is that people don’t vote for competent people, for their personnality, character, or according to what they have done in the past, but according to the image they sell. You don’t have to be a good politician with good moral or whatever, you need to be surrounded by good communicators that can "sell" you well.

    Besides, I totally agree with Steve.

  11. steve s November 2, 2004 at 11:30 pm

    Chris,

    I think many Christians have over spiritualized the whole process and expect too much.

    I guess I am becoming more convinced that we weigh things out the best we can. You’ve done what you’ve felt you should. I think that we are not out to create a theocracy and realize that the President will not be Jesus Christ. Anyone else WILL have some evil attached to them, even me

    (actually especially me)!

    To be honest, if an incompetent Christian ran and a good nonchristian ran I have no problem voting for the nonchristian. Just like going to a doctor. I don’t go to him for spiritual advice but for him to do his job.

    1 million abortions a year sure does seem to carry a lot of weight.

    I’m still learning though and my postion may change by the next election!

  12. Silvio November 3, 2004 at 2:30 am

    Hi I’m not american, though I love this country – I actually lived there for 3 years – and as a journalist living in NY city says 2 dasy agos, what’s incredible is that people don’t vote for competent people, for their personnality, character, or according to what they have done in the past, but according to the image they sell. You don’t have to be a good politician with good moral or whatever, you need to be surrounded by good communicators that can "sell" you well.

    Besides, I totally agree with Steve.

  13. Jason November 4, 2004 at 8:10 am

    Wayne,

    Isn’t it great that we all have the freedom to disagree on important matters? Although I do not share your overall outlook as far as at least one of the candidates, I appreciate your honesty as far as what you think. Paul talked about when Christians disagreed on what some felt to be important matters. I believe his response was to let each be convinced in his own mind. Wow, what freedom!

    My wife and I went to dinner at another couple’s house. Our friend Tara said that she was at another Christian couple’s house during one of the debates. Of course the discussion turned political. Before long, the other couple was "offended" that Tara was leaning towards Kerry because he represents the pro-abortion side of the equation. They couldn’t believe that a "Christian" would ever vote for someone that allowed abortion.

    Although I agree with the others couple’s belief that abortion is a very important factor in how I vote, I do not believe it is my job to slam them for their opinion or convince them to see things the way I do.

    Tara also talked about how after viewing all 3 debates and also watching some political commercials, they went to factcheck.org to check the whole truth. Then when she went into the voting booth, she actually prayed to God because she was still unsure on who she should vote for. On the one hand, Bush represented many of her values, but on the other hand, she felt that Kerry would be better at dealing with many other problems that she saw in this country. She ended up voting for Kerry.

    Even though I disagree with the choice of candidates she made, I respect how serious she took this whole process. Wow, what an American! As a veteran, we did serve our country for those who think like we do. Instead, we served our country for all people, even those that do not share our outlook in important matters. Wayne, God bless America and may God bless all of his children.

    —Jason H.

  14. Jason November 4, 2004 at 11:10 am

    Wayne,

    Isn’t it great that we all have the freedom to disagree on important matters? Although I do not share your overall outlook as far as at least one of the candidates, I appreciate your honesty as far as what you think. Paul talked about when Christians disagreed on what some felt to be important matters. I believe his response was to let each be convinced in his own mind. Wow, what freedom!

    My wife and I went to dinner at another couple’s house. Our friend Tara said that she was at another Christian couple’s house during one of the debates. Of course the discussion turned political. Before long, the other couple was "offended" that Tara was leaning towards Kerry because he represents the pro-abortion side of the equation. They couldn’t believe that a "Christian" would ever vote for someone that allowed abortion.

    Although I agree with the others couple’s belief that abortion is a very important factor in how I vote, I do not believe it is my job to slam them for their opinion or convince them to see things the way I do.

    Tara also talked about how after viewing all 3 debates and also watching some political commercials, they went to factcheck.org to check the whole truth. Then when she went into the voting booth, she actually prayed to God because she was still unsure on who she should vote for. On the one hand, Bush represented many of her values, but on the other hand, she felt that Kerry would be better at dealing with many other problems that she saw in this country. She ended up voting for Kerry.

    Even though I disagree with the choice of candidates she made, I respect how serious she took this whole process. Wow, what an American! As a veteran, we did serve our country for those who think like we do. Instead, we served our country for all people, even those that do not share our outlook in important matters. Wayne, God bless America and may God bless all of his children.

    —Jason H.

  15. Steve November 5, 2004 at 1:43 pm

    My only wish is that lesser parties would be allowed into the debates. After Perot made a splash a few years back, the 2 party system has seemed the door to their elite club. More voices would only encourage a more serious analysis at issues. While I dodn’t care for many of nader’s policies, I admire his passion for the issues. He would have been a welcome voice in the debates.

  16. Steve November 5, 2004 at 4:43 pm

    My only wish is that lesser parties would be allowed into the debates. After Perot made a splash a few years back, the 2 party system has seemed the door to their elite club. More voices would only encourage a more serious analysis at issues. While I dodn’t care for many of nader’s policies, I admire his passion for the issues. He would have been a welcome voice in the debates.

  17. Renee November 6, 2004 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks for your honesty, I didn’t vote in the 2000 election for the same reason you didn’t vote in this one. I did vote this time because of what happened last time. I am very tired of the negativity on both sides. We were being manipulated by both parties. It came down to which campain manager is better at manipulation. Now of course, some are questioning my salvation because I didn’t vote for "Gods man" I believe that war, and in some cases the death penalty are as much murder as abortion. And I find that poverty, pollution, prescription drug costs (I am an RN) are at least AS important as gay marrage

  18. Renee November 6, 2004 at 11:24 pm

    Thanks for your honesty, I didn’t vote in the 2000 election for the same reason you didn’t vote in this one. I did vote this time because of what happened last time. I am very tired of the negativity on both sides. We were being manipulated by both parties. It came down to which campain manager is better at manipulation. Now of course, some are questioning my salvation because I didn’t vote for "Gods man" I believe that war, and in some cases the death penalty are as much murder as abortion. And I find that poverty, pollution, prescription drug costs (I am an RN) are at least AS important as gay marrage

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