Tomorrow is the big election day, and I’m sure many of us are ready for the political fighting on facebook to be OVER. I know I am. It’s been another discouraging season as I’ve watched Christian friends (and family) cast judgment on anyone not towing the line with the Religious Right. I’ve been open about my political beliefs but I’ve also tried to avoid being negative and defensive, but today a couple things have prompted me to explain why, as a Christian, I’m voting as a Democrat. I consider myself an independent, because I don’t think I should pledge allegiance to any political party. I try to weigh each candidate and each proposition on their own merits. However, I typically vote for Democratic candidates, and I’m getting tired of people suggesting that I should lose my Christian Cred card for doing so. Last week Mike Huckabee released a video that basically implied as much, and I found it so frustrating that it prompted me to share my own views.
First of all, I understand that some Christians are voting based on “values”, and that for them the abortion issue is at the helm. I get this. I am not a fan of abortion. In my life I have consistently tried to be a solution in reducing abortions in our society, from volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center to adopting children to supporting ministries that help young mothers in unplanned pregnancies. I get that people are perplexed at Christian Democrats, but we are equally perplexed at people who do single-issue voting on abortion issues and then do nothing else to address this burgeoning societal issue. I know many people who get fired up about abortion at every election and then do literally nothing about it during non-election years.
That being said, it’s my opinion that anyone voting “pro-life” and assuming that Romney is going to change the legalization of abortion is deluding themselves (or believing propaganda built to win the Christian vote). First of all, Romney has never been consistently pro-life. In 1994 during a senate run, Romney declared that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. “I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it, and I sustain and support that law,” he said then. While he has called himself pro-life in this election, he has also stated “while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.” Translation: voting for Romney will not change abortion laws, and he does not believe in doing so at the federal level. So again, this “value voting” argument is a moot point when it comes to abortion.
Since neither candidate stands to change abortion laws, to me it makes sense to look at which candidate will reduce the number of abortions if that’s an important issue. I have long felt that democratic policies were more favorable for preventing unwanted pregnancies, which is obviously the most important aspect to reducing abortions. Last month, a study confirmed that fact. Bottom line on the abortion issue: I don’t think that banning abortions is going to stop people from having abortions, and I don’t think Mitt Romney is going to ban them anyways. To that end, I will focus my energy on reducing unwanted pregnancies and on supporting women who find themselves in one, and continue to vote based on a broader view of government.
For me, when I cast a vote I am voting about what kind of government I want. My worldview of government is largely shaped by global politics – looking around and seeing what kinds of government and policies work, and what don’t. I don’t want to start a debate on size/type of government because I think it’s a distraction from what I’m talking about here in regards to faith, but I will just say for point of reference that I lean towards democratic socialism as the ideal model of government – similar to most European governments (and pretty much all developed nations outside of the US). The Republican party is in ideological opposition to my view of the ideal government system – this is why I am not a Republican. Does the DNC’s “abortion for all” platform sometimes bother me? Absolutely. But again, when I vote, I am voting for what kind of government I want. It would not make sense for me to vote Republican simply over this one issue when on a much larger scale, I don’t believe in the basic tenets of that political party.
I realize that some Christians are also voting based on the idea of “maintaining the sanctity of marriage”. I’ve articulated my views on this in a Right Mom/Left Mom episode, but suffice it to say I’m not voting based on this issue. I will also agree with something Jason Boyett said on facebook: “So in tomorrow’s presidential election, we can choose between a professing Christian or a professing Mormon. Until recently, most conservative evangelicals I know considered the LDS church a cult. But tomorrow, many of these same Christian friends will think I’m doing something immoral and unChristian by choosing the Christian over the Mormon. Which is just to say: things are weird . . . . I can understand disagreeing with policies or ill-advised statements. And all politicians lie. (So do all regular people.) But I think we need to be very careful about rejecting the faith of a man who has professed Christ as his Savior—which, in the evangelical world, is considered a fairly important step of faith—especially while voting for an opponent whose church tradition rejects the divinity of Christ.” I have to agree with Jason’s confusion over the judgment of Obama’s faith. I talk more about that here.
As I mentioned before, I don’t like the two-party system and don’t believe that thinking people should ever fall in line over every single issue that a particular party endorses. However, I’ve been dismayed by the judgment Democrats are getting from their Christian brothers and sisters. I think this quote from theologian John Wesley in 1774 still rings true:
Tomorrow, I’m going to use the filter of my faith and politics and vote for the man I think is best for the job. I trust you will, too, and I won’t be casting judgment on your “spiritual walk” depending on how you vote. I hope you will offer me the same respect.