I’m ready for this election to be over. As with most hotly contested campaigns, it’s been full of half-truths and outright lies. And, while I have my opinion on the source of the vast majority of deception, the casual observer may simply see partisan bickering and endless gamesmanship. The result can be a cynical electorate who loses interest in the whole political process. I’ve noticed many Christians who seem to fall into this category. Already suspicious of politicians, they hear the hypocrisy espoused in the campaigns and no longer trust either party to be a viable part of the solution.
In an attempt to transcend the right and left, it can be tempting to avoid making any choice at all, leaving less scrupulous elements to pick our leaders and determine our policies. It’s true; Jesus sidestepped politics. He talked of feeding the poor and showed compassion for the sick and suffering. He admonished us to take care of the least of these and warned about the love of money. He even paid taxes without complaint. At the same time, he avoided questions about Roman rule. Of course, Jesus had a much more important mission; one that takes place in hearts and souls.
Once we have responded to the gospel, we should have a desire to do God’s work here on earth. For me, this involves trying to support causes that reflect his love and mercy in all aspects of life: families, communities, culture, and yes, politics and government. So, shouldn’t we want a government that more closely aligns itself with the principles that Christ exemplified? Do we want to cut social programs to the poor while giving tax breaks to the wealthy? Do we want to turn our backs on the uninsured? Do we want an economic model that is based on survival-on-the-fittest? What are real Christian values?
These are not just ideological questions. They are real to a mother who has been cut from her health care provider. It’s real to a boy who can’t afford a school lunch, much less a decent education. It’s real to a dad whose job has been shipped overseas. It’s real to a grandmother who worries she’ll outlive a voucher to cover her end-of-life expenses. It’s real if we find ourselves in another war and thousands are sent off to fight. It becomes real in the wake of a natural disaster. Even if you are not directly affected by any of these issues, hopefully, you still care about them because they do affect real people – your neighbors.
The government cannot be all things to all people and we must make some hard choices. We need to discuss how we can reasonably reduce the debt; however, surely, the most marginalized are not the first that need to be asked to pay. If the richest 1% controls 40% of the nation’s wealth (and certain wealthy people are paying less than 15% in taxes), maybe they can do a little more. Let’s discuss how we can reduce abortions, including all the ways to lower the number of unwanted pregnancies. Let’s talk about gay marriage, and how can give all people equal rights. While I know no politician or party is perfect, I don’t hear a willingness to talk about both sides of an issue from the right.
Religion can transform a person’s life, but government can help feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and provide basic shelter for the homeless. It can heal the sick. It can educate the young, providing a brighter, safer future for all of us. It can help ensure that the strongest don’t take advantage of the weakest. I believe these are all worthy goals of a society. God has given us the free will to determine what kind of world we want to live in. Hopefully, Christians will not lose their faith in a flawed system, and be willing to make the tough choices.