Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pivoting the premise: Choosing the preferred of two goods rather than voting for the lesser of two evils


I’m choosing to reject the idea that an election is nothing more than a forced choice between the lesser of two evils. Instead I’m choosing to look at elections as an opportunity to vote for the preferred of two goods.

Most men and women who hold or seek political office, regardless of party affiliation or philosophical bent, are intelligent, well-intentioned citizens. There are exceptions, but they usually get put out of office sooner or later.

Candidates arise from “We the people of the United States.”

We are the people

Government is supposed to be “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

We are the people. The people are us. What we get in the way of government is what we choose.

Those who serve in elected and appointed offices arose from the midst of us.

Those elected were elected by us.

Those appointed were appointed by those we elected to represent us.

If candidates arise who are truly evil, then they arise because we allow them to and we choose them. And if they persist in office, they persist because of us.

We get what we ask for

The candidates who are elected get elected because, at least to some degree, they reflect our values, our desires, our intentions, our morals, our hopes, our dreams. They get into office because we view them as a means to achieve what we want; what we believe is best for ourselves and our country, state, county, or town.

If what we want is evil, then we will choose evil to represent us.

If what we want is good, then we will choose good to represent us.

I do not believe, on the whole, that either Obama or Romney represent evil per se.

Rather, they are two generally good, intelligent, capable men with very different ideas as to what’s best for our country.

Both viewpoints have been shaped and are informed by intelligence and wisdom, as well as very different life experiences and worldviews.

That they are willfully subjecting themselves to the horrific, abusive gauntlet of what we have turned presidential campaigns into in this country speaks volumes about the toughness, resilience, and perseverance of their characters and intellects.

Spineless idiots simply don’t survive such rigors. We are foolish to think otherwise.

We are the “other” side to them

To blast those who represent or support the “other” party, side, or viewpoint as evil, bad, dishonest, stupid, idiots, or worse, is to diminish ourselves, revealing our own character flaws. We’re worse than undisciplined children name-calling on the playground when we sling our own mud.

We need to stop demonizing each other and our candidates, even when they do it.

Such slamming and posturing achieves nothing positive. It merely shuts down intelligent discourse while fueling mindless anger.

To understand what this looks like and what it leads to simply consider the mindless hate-driven tauntings and attacks of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or any such radical, terroristic, anti-American group.

I’m really tired of the claims that everyone who does not support Obama is racist or that everyone who does support Romney is ungodly.

Unless specifically applied in instances where it can be substantiated, both blanket claims are without merit and serve no good purpose.

Two well-informed viewpoints; one people under God

We are being presented with two very different sets of ideas and methods for governing our country. They are different and different is not bad.

Both viewpoints, generally speaking, are valid, both are good, both are worthy of our thoughtful consideration.

And then, for President and for every other office up for grabs this November, we each get to exercise our wonderful right and privilege to vote. (If you're not going to vote, then, please, just be quiet.)

We need to respect each others’ choices and support those who are placed into office.

There’s a lot of whining that goes on regarding the failure of our elected politicians to get along and govern in a more bipartisan spirit.

If we, as the governed for whom the elected work, can’t get along with our own friends, neighbors, relatives, and coworkers who are on the “other” side, why do we expect those we elect will behave any differently?

Government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, for the people. We are the people. The people are us.

It’s time for us to start behaving the way we want those we elect to behave as they govern our country. It’s our country and our government and it reflects us to the world.

This means that when the person we voted for behaves badly or lies, or the party we align with acts without integrity, we need to call them out and hold them accountable. It’s not enough to merely point the finger at the foibles of the other side. And it's just as wrong to gloat when the other side slips.

Jesus cautioned us about this when he said, "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye” (Matthew 7:3-5, ESV).

Finally

Then, on November 7th, regardless of who wins office, we must remember: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1, ESV).

Just because your candidate won or lost the election doesn’t mean you no longer are obligated to love your neighbor – who voted for the other guy – as yourself. As Paul reminds us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18, ESV).

Vote your conscience. Honor God. Love and respect your neighbor. Seek peace and justice for all.

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Thoughts? What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comment!

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