The US Presidential Election – a personal perspective (5)

In less than a week’s time we will know who will be the next President of the United States of America. I have already blogged on this, giving four separate personal perspectives on the matter (see here, here, here and here), as well as several related posts, and this is my fifth and probably the last. My next post on the election will likely be my reflecting on the result and, as with all my posts, I attempt to offer a Christian viewpoint, but in the realization that many of my fellow Christians see things quite differently to me.

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Checking out the bookies odds, Clinton is still the more likely to win, but going by the polls, she and Trump are neck and neck and it looks as if he is set to overtake Clinton. But never say never, for in this strange build up to the election proper, anything could happen and might well do so as new character revelations come to light on a daily basis and forces we barely understand cause the pendulum to swing one way or the other. Both candidates have potential criminal charges hanging over them, which in normal circumstances would disqualify them both, and both have more than the standard number of character flaws, but as most would agree this is not a normal scenario – for what we are now witnessing is anything but. If personalities are anything to go by, I still see it as Hobson’s choice, given the two other candidates are unlikely to come remotely close to winning and unless you are Libertarian or Green there is little to commend them to voters, other than as a protest. It boils down to a choice between <selectyourowntermfromalonglist>ist Donald and crooked Hillary. It then boils down to the policies they espouse and the chances of enacting those aligning to ones own values and what in one’s view will result in the most good being done.

In my Presidential debate blogs (see here, here and here), I reflected that there was a surprising amount (given all the vitriol between the candidates) said whereby an attentive listener can discern clear differences in policies, and I have already given my view. I have also listened to some of their post debate speeches, which surprisingly have not been dull, although charismatic Donald impresses me more than stage managed Hillary. There are some things policy wise I might be more inclined toward Hillary rather than Donald, e.g. regarding gun control and protecting the environment. I have to grudgingly admit she will more likely champion the rights of minorities. On some issues, like uplifting the poor and marginalized, I might be inclined to support Hillary’s more left leaning policies, except I do not get the impression, going by past experiences, these are likely to work particularly well. From what I can make out, the well intended Obamacare has been a disaster. Regarding border control, while Donald has likely overstated his case and used intemperate language (helping to incite hatred) when insisting on building a wall between the USA and Mexico and disallowing Muslims from entering the country. Yet I recognize these are valid concerns and this coming from one who has supported foreigners, especially sanctuary seekers, coming into my country and befriending Muslims from a young age, more than most people.

I am ending this posting by giving reasons why I would be inclined to vote for Trump, as opposed to Clinton, if hypothetically I could vote next Tuesday, realizing he is no clean cut preacher or even an especially nice man, but he is a fighter that calls it as he sees it. I am not saying I would mind and respect the American people too much to have the temerity to say who they should vote for. But given some of my friends have succumbed to the spirit of political correctness and gone for the “safe pair of hands” option when it comes to finger on the nuclear button etc., rating sexual and sexist misdemeanors as worse sins than those of corruption and duplicity (although it is often the case we can’t be entirely sure, which is a pity), and ignored many of the important concerns I have been raising these past few weeks, I am tempted to do so out of sheer bloody mindedness. But on reflection, that wouldn’t be the Christian thing to do, a theme I will come to at the very end, when wrapping up this post.

  1. I dislike political correctness and while I am all for protecting minorities etc., stopping free expression and thought and disallowing sensible things like prayer in school or insisting people should be able to use the bathroom pertaining to the gender they identify with is wrong. There is no doubt in my mind Trump will challenging this “spirit of the age” more than Clinton.
  2. The Supreme Court remains a big issue where there are clear differences in approach. The latest in a long line of articles of the Supreme Court getting it wrong: “Dobson Calls For CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE After Supreme Court Ruling!” convinces me that the sort of justices Trump would nominate would do a better job than those Clinton favours.Two of the court’s most notorious decision in recent years is to allow abortion and same sex marriage. Both Clinton supported decisions are wrong.
  3. The Elephant in the room, and I still haven’t cracked the difference between debt and deficit, is the staggering amount of money the country owes. To spend money it doesn’t have, which is what it has happened under Obama and will continue under Clinton, is a recipe for disaster at some time soon. Being beholden to banks, like the Federal Reserve, or dodgy foreigners or powerful interests is not a healthy situation. In this regard, I have more confidence in Trump as opposed to Clinton to resolve the situation (although I suspect it may be beyond both).
  4. We are seeing a spirit of lawlessness and it is clear that homeland security is being threatened by forces from within and without. I fear the current administration, because of it is beholden to political correctness, has soft pedaled on the matter and not nailed the real causes. I have more confidence that Trump will be better able to handle this challenge than Clinton.
  5. The Economy has traditionally been the biggest election issue. Because of mistaken ideology and gross mismanagement, there has been huge losses accrued under Obama and would continue under Clinton. While I am not a fan of protectionism, I would back Trump over Clinton when it comes to more American jobs and securing equitable trade deals.
  6. Foreign policy (an area where the President has more influence than home policy) has not been handled well, including the five undeclared wars that have arisen, in which the US is currently involved. The situation in Syria is particularly grave and Clinton’s ideas of creating a no-fly zone could trigger World War 3.
  7. I am adverse to the present globalist tendency we are now seeing, which Clinton will perpetuate and Trump would likely reverse given his more nationalistic tendencies.
  8. “Stronger Together” if not backed up by evidence (there has been too little of doing this in Clinton’s thirty years in politics), is a ******* term. “Drain the Swamp”, however, I do understand, and if Trump does half the things he says he will when he starts his office, then he will do a good thing. There is too much pay to play and cronyism, and too much power given to unaccountable powerful elites and Clinton seems to epitomize this tendency, as indicated by who it is that is financially supporting her.
  9. While I recognize I cannot impose my Christian beliefs in a pluralistic society, I believe the nation will fare better if Christian values are observed and Christian freedom is allowed. I recognize this is a complex and controversial subject that needs further elaboration (and it is not a mere left versus right issue). It is a matter I have written on at length in my previous blog posts.
  10. While Trump has surrounded himself with some dodgy characters, the same could be said of Clinton. Some of the people close to him, who will likely have positions of power in a Trump administration, have impressed me, including vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence. In putting out a sop to Evangelicals in order to get their support, I see this as an opportunity for the “good guys” to come on board and help influence policy.

None of us can predict the future. Even those who support Trump cannot be certain he will do what he has said he would. As for Clinton, she might well do so but, being the clever lawyer she is, she has promised little beyond ensuring business as usual. There are grave concerns over both the characters of Trump and Clinton, which will impact on the way they will conduct themselves if elected President, and this cannot be ignored. While the President is sometimes said to be the most powerful person on earth, there is much he/she can’t do even if he/she wanted, for so many external factors and events outside his/her control constrain. I know some of my friends look on a Trump victory with a great deal of trepidation. My response is it is all in God’s hands and he is in control; and for the believer we can trust in his protection and providence. I invite all is to put their trust in him. We are citizens of the world and must therefore do our civic duty and seek what is best when it comes to government, but for followers of Jesus being a citizen of the world which is to come ought to be an even more pressing matter.

While concerned for the welfare of American citizens, I am more concerned for  American Christians. I do not doubt Christians have a big part to play, but they need to recognize the world is in its perilous state partly because of their disobedience to their divine commission. The clarion call is for them to repent and re-dedicate themselves to God’s service.When it comes to campaign slogans, “making America great again” may be just as empty rhetoric (and maybe worse as it hints too much of self interest) as “stronger together“. But then again “America is great because it is good” is also empty. We need more goodness of course, but America is only great because God has blessed it, and sadly it has lost its way because it has rejected God. America needs God’s blessing, which it is in danger of losing altogether. While I remain uncomfortable at the prospect of either candidate winning, I can’t sit on the fence.

My concerns are for the church, this world and America, probably in that order, and while the choice of who is to be president does matter in all those areas, the glory of God has to be my overriding concern. If Clinton wins, I predict real Christians will be further pushed out of the public square and religious liberties will be further eroded, but if they are it is an opportunity to do what they have been called to do, which includes making disciples of Jesus, maintaining justice and righteousness, and serving the poor and oppressed, and as history shows the church tends to thrive when it comes under attack. If Trump wins, I predict there will be greater religious freedom and opportunities to serve in public office, and it will be a step in the right direction concerning culture war issues.

Whether it is a Trump or a Clinton win, and whichever way those who can decide to vote, this could be the church’s finest hour. I think though that given the divisiveness we have seen among Christians arising out of this election, there needs to be humility and a recognition that what unites us is far greater than what divides and what really matters is the glory of the God in who we trust. Whoever wins, there is a need to heal a bruised and divided nation, and here Christians can take a lead. There is too much hatred and division, among many other not nice things, and our message is one of love and reconciliation. It is important to hold one’s nerve, maintain one’s integrity and draw closer to the Lord. As for me, I intend to do more watching and praying. The truth of the matter is that neither Trump nor Clinton can save America; only God can.

I write on the eve of the election and much of the news speculation is about how close to call the election is. There is little more to be said; the people must decide. According to pundits, given the way “American system” works, it comes down to how the swing states (those that in recent years have voted both Democrat and Republican) go for, as I understand it is, winner (of each state) takes all by contributing a number of votes proportional to its population, to add to the final “electoral college” vote. Its been a long haul blog wise and, while I confess there is much I don’t know, I have taken in a good deal, far more than I had expected, and there is little I feel I can usefully now add. I have offered my opinion and recognise I am in a minority. Feelings are running high on both sides of the debate as to what is the desired outcome. Whoever wins, there needs to be a bringing together of a divided nation and for it to know the blessing of the Almighty. I watch with interest, realising it is not up to me but God. My job as a preacher is to point people to trust in Him and not politicians. Whoever wins, I must pray for him/her. God bless America – ed 07/11/2016.

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