This is my fourth “personal perspective” (on the US Presidential Election) blog (see here, here and here for the first three and here for the index to earlier US President related blogs). I can hear folk saying it is now about time that I stopped blogging on the matter – after all, I have given it a fair crack, maybe won over a few, but more likely many will think what they think regardless. While nothing earth shattering has happened since I last blogged on the subject, a lot continues to be written and reported (I have read some of it) on the subject, and I have had some interesting (usually respectful) exchanges. I write now to help to tie up some of the loose ends.
I hope readers will forgive me when I say that while I don’t expect you to read all I have written on the subject, I will at best be skipping over a lot of ground covered already. I also recognize there are some loose ends I can’t fully tie up, such as a definitive assessment on the characters of the two main candidates, and a full blown analysis of their policies. I also recognise I have prejudices and a world view, which has a bearing. I believe though that, putting personalities aside, most already have opinions on many of the issues that are being raised in the run up to this election and most will come to a view based on how they see these issues being best resolved and their own values etc. I should add overall, on balance, my friends and adversaries would much prefer Clinton over Trump.
In one of several Facebook exchanges touching on the relative merits of Trump and Clinton, one of my friends expressed bemusement I should entertain any sympathy toward Trump given he is a racist and part of my community activism has been to fight racism. I did think there are several other uncomplimentary adjectives I could add to that of racist, e.g. misogynist. My quick response was: what is worse: racist Trump or crooked Clinton? Another friend chipped in that Clinton has not yet been found guilty of any crime and in another thread it was pointed out that the accusation of crookedness has been brought about by those who hate Clinton and as yet many such claims remain unproven. I was tempted to share a dossier on the subject which down the years and on many different matters show Clinton in a poor light, but I resist, despite there being a long list of people with their stories, accusing Clinton of some or other wrongdoing, all pointing to serious character flaws, something most accept Trump has in abundance.
As people who read my blog know, religion informs my politics, even though I dare not tell people how to vote or have the audacity to say which party is more “Christian” or in a pluralistic society insist that it adopt entirely Christian ideas. All this is in spite of the fact that when considering the views of religious people, especially them who share my core beliefs, there is a whole spectrum of views, ranging from staunchly pro Trump, anti Clinton to staunchly the other way round. I have read a good selection across that spectrum of views and while trying to be respectful, despite by skepticism and biases that I am aware of, I have still to come to a fully rounded view. As for voting, it is all academic – I am not a US citizen and therefore cannot vote. However, I am a citizen of this world and the world to come, and care about what is happening, sensing the outcome of the elections will have ramifications, the ripples of which will be felt across the world for years to come. I am also of the view that both candidates are unsuitable, representing the increasing polarization that has taken place in recent years, in American culture. I also subscribe to the notion what are seeing is in part the judgment of God on a nation. One right response is along the lines of the Hebrew prophet, Habakkuk’s cry to God: “in wrath remember mercy”.
I have in previous posts considered some of the issues raised, mindful that as I am an outsider with at best basic knowledge of my limitations in judging which candidate fares better and using the maxim I generally adopt come any election time: to weigh each policy on those subjects I care about (and there are many) and consider these in the light of my own theological, political and ideological views and see who comes out best. As I said in my blog on the third presidential debate, sometimes Trump comes out better and other times it is Clinton. There are other issues of course: the move toward having “a new world order”, corruption in high places and culture wars (all subjects I have blogged on in the past). Here the make up of the Supreme Court is pertinent and, when it comes to representing my views on this matter, Trump scores higher.
Going back to theology, as I read the Bible, I find it says virtually nothing about democracy, although it does say quite a bit about being good citizens. Having been told by my early mentors to steer clear of politics and even discouraged from voting, I have now come round to the view it is right for a Christian to be involved in politics (although speaking personally I cannot align in all conscience with any of the political parties) and voting is something I would encourage fellow Christians to do. While not saying who they should vote for I would urge them to do so intelligently, understanding the issues. One Christian who applied his faith and decided he would vote Trump recently posted and I happen to agree (see here), although others have done so and have come to an opposite view.
While some would put me in the “Christian right” camp as opposed to the “Christian left”, as I have often pointed out I see myself as being in neither camp, recognizing on some issues I am more “right” and some more “left”. In Bible times, most rulers were autocrats and they tended to be more despotic than benevolent. If there was an ideal, although far from fully realized, I suggest it was Israel theocracy and New Testament church communism. Some of the right like the idea of Israel’s rule under God, because of ideals like small government and individual liberty and yet it only worked because people feared God and, because of that, the poor and oppressed, marginalized and disadvantaged were served. I do not see that today – anywhere. As for the New Testament church, the left may like they had all things in common and shared everything, but there was no compulsion or agenda led state bureaucracy saying how. I do not see that today – anywhere either. As for America, it has been blessed by God but it is no Israel replacement. It has lost its way on every front and no person can save them. God will bring America to account as He has done so with all nations in the past.
One passage in the Bible I often return to on these occasions, even though it says nothing about how I should vote or who I should support come election time is: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour”. I also take comfort in the thought that irrespective of who is elected as the next President of the USA that God is still on the Throne. May the USA motto be true for us all: “in God we trust”!