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Vote (continued)

What is a vote?

1vote \ˈvōt\ noun

[Middle English (Scottish), from Latin votum vow, wish—more at vow] 15th century

1    a: a usually formal expression of opinion or will in response to a proposed decision especially: one given as an indication of approval or disapproval of a proposal, motion, or candidate for office[1]

 

As we left off yesterday, we had discussed the overemphasis of the Executive Branch and how we are slightly too concerned about the future election.

I hope by reading the former blog you realize that although there may be competing ideas about what kind of person the Executive of the General Government should be, there are greater concerns for people who would be responsible for their own self-governance as we are.

The power of the states as the first representation of the people, the importance of the separation of powers, and the lack of true conservatism in the Senate should be primary concerns rather than a strong, central figure that many folks imagine the President of the United States to be.

But now, I’d like to refocus on the topic at hand and defend against the idea that a vote against Trump is a vote for Hillary.

Voting is a duty of the citizens of this Republic. It is unfortunately neglected. What a vote is essentially though, has come into question with the statement “A vote against Trump is a vote for Hillary”.

In the elections of 1789, 1792, 1796, and 1800, each elector in the electoral college voted for two candidates for President. The candidate who received the largest electoral vote was declared President, and the candidate who received the next largest number of votes was declared Vice-President.[2]

A vote, when there is more than one candidate, is the act of choosing a candidate by casting a ballot FOR them. When you vote, you choose someone. That is all.

You may have in mind things that you don’t want to happen. You may have in mind other candidates who you don’t want to win. But, when you vote you are choosing the person by casting your ballot FOR them. You are not unselecting or disqualifying the other candidate(s) by voting for their opponent. You are not voting against another candidate by voting for their opponent. You are expressing your positive choice of a candidate.

Furthermore, it does not follow that because a candidate does not receive your vote you have practically voted for their opponent. If you voted for someone, that’s where your vote counts. No one counts possible votes at the end of the day. Only real votes count. Your vote is a positive affirmation of your choice, not a pronouncement of your opposition to the other candidates.

So, a vote for someone is not a vote for someone else. To say so is an informal logical fallacy called false equivocation. It is not true either actually or practically. That makes it false to say “A vote against Trump is a vote for Hillary”. I’ll let you ponder on the synonyms for false statement.

There has been a lot of effort to come up with an equation here to preemptively cast blame on those who vow to never vote for Mr. Trump. It’s not working and most of those people are not buying the argument. In my opinion, it would be better to move on from that faulty logic and concentrate on Mr. Trumps real problems like campaign money, lack of Super-packs, and lack of support by women. If he is to be President, he will have to do it without the aid of some conservatives and there’s no amount of crying that will change that.

If he loses, the Trump faithful can cast the blame on the #neverTrump conservatives but, most of those same conservatives can look their accusers in the eye and say that from the beginning, “I told you so”.

I’m just saying that this axe cuts on both sides and one would do well to remember that.

In 1804 the Constitution was amended (Twelfth Amendment). Beginning with the election of 1804, all the electors voted for a President and a Vice-President, instead of for two candidates as formerly.[3]

Do Christians have a choice?

We are not electing Jesus.

One mistake many Christians seem to make as they consider how to cast their vote, is one of morality. It’s easy to see politicians through the presupposition of my guy good, their guy evil, when in reality none of them are perfect.

The fact is, Jesus is not running for President. He is King of the President but that doesn’t depend upon who the President is.

It should be some relief though, that we don’t have to vote for the perfect candidate. Even realizing that none of the candidates are morally perfect leaves us somewhat in a quandary though. The question evolves into, “well, shouldn’t we elect the most moral man (or woman) for the job?” “If no candidate is morally perfect, do we throw all moral standards out the window?” “Shouldn’t I vote for someone who best represents my moral standards which are the standards I believe best represent Jesus?”

The simple answer to each of those questions is yes…if that’s your conviction.

I’m not telling you what to do here. My goal is simply to help you understand your choice.

Voting is on a continuum.

Since the Lord is not running for office, obviously we have to use another standard than perfection to make our choice. And, since each candidate is a human being, we must see them on a scale or continuum to be able to judge which candidate best represents our ideals.

In other words, since no one is perfect, we must come up with a way to determine which candidate is best, as far as we’re concerned. So…

Let’s say there are four candidates-A, B, C, and D and each candidate has a position on five different issues that you feel are important. The candidates’ positions on those issues run on a continuum of sorts, from better to worse.

Also, each candidate has certain moral qualities that help you determine whether their positions are viable. Simply put, they have a moral continuum determined by certain character qualities that runs parallel with their issue continuum and has a direct bearing on how much you trust their stances on the issues. If the things they say seem to indicate an agreement with you on the issues, then that’s great. But, if you have good reasons not to trust them then what they say may be less important or even incriminating.

The choice becomes more difficult as you more closely identify with more than one candidate. Let’s say candidates C and D are out of the question. Out of five positions, you disagree with them four and five times respectively. But, candidates A and B are closer to you on the issues. You agree with A four out of five times and B three out of five times, but B seems to display a higher degree of morality on the continuum. You might choose B simply because you trust them or A because you’re willing to risk his moral character and gain more on the issues. You will ultimately make your decision depending where you are satisfied the most along those continuums.

There are several nuances to that model, but let me throw in the one nuance that places this blog into context.

Let’s say that you have choices A, B, and C. Choice A best represents what you believe about the issues, and he is a moral person you believe but, he has a very slim chance of winning.

Choice B is not as close to you on the issues, although there are a couple of important issues you agree on. The problem is you don’t think you can trust him. He has a high degree of electability (he can win) though and is better than C. Choice C opposes you on almost every issue. Their positions are polar opposites to yours on the issues. They are also a moral failure. One thing is for sure, you don’t want choice C.

What to do?

1808-For President, James Madison, of Virginia, Republican, 122; Charles C. Pinckney, of South Carolina, Federalist, 47; George Clinton, of New York, Republican, 6. For Vice-President, George Clinton, Republican, 113; Rufus King, of New York, Federalist, 47; John Langdon, of New Hampshire, 9; James Madison, 3; James Monroe, 3. Vacancy, 1. Madison was chosen President and Clinton Vice-President.[4]

Principle vs Practical

Voting on principle and voting based upon pragmatism are not on the continuums of issues and morality. They are ways or methods of choosing a person along those continuums.

One may vote their principle completely and never have an impact on the process simply because the candidates they choose never have an impact.

On the other hand, one may always be completely a pragmatist and choose the winner but betray their principles in the process, placing into question whether they even have principles and in turn, convictions.

The truth is that none of us are either purely principled or completely practical. We each desire both to win and have an impact for good. This is an area of much consternation. It’s a place where mud is thrown and names are called. It’s a place where friendships can be in jeopardy. But please understand, it’s not as cut and dry as you may think. Peoples various positions on how they vote is often nuanced considerably and can be very complicated.

Of course those of us who may choose A and say damn the torpedoes, believe that our principles should influence those who choose B. We are not in it to win, we loudly brag. The fact of the matter is; we want to win. We pray to win. We mourn losing.

Those of us who choose B accuse the A-choosers of overlooking the big picture though. We condescend to them by accusing principled people of being ignorant of the process. All of this because we want to win. The fact is, we want to have an impact too and retain our integrity.

Neither side can seem to see the others position, but one thing is for certain, we have a choice and in both cases that choice is based at least partly on our convictions.

How you decide along the continuums will be determined by whether you believe your principles are more important than winning. No candidate will meet all of your standards and there is no guarantee that any particular choice will be a winner.

It’s obvious, you do have a choice, we’ve always had a choice, and that choice is made by voting. A vote for candidate A is not practically voting for C. It is simply a vote for A because you value your principles more than winning.

On the other hand, if winning is more important and you are willing to risk many of your principles, that doesn’t mean that you are immoral or unchristian. You have simply weighed the outcomes and made a decision based upon practical concerns.

Two questions linger though. Do you want to have an impact? What principles, if any, are you willing to sacrifice?

In the system in vogue in most States the names of all candidates are on a single ticket, and the voter indicates his choice by a cross ( X ). This system in the Presidential election of 1896 was used in thirty-six States, and seems likely to be universally adopted.[5]

Voting is your duty

In my opinion, one thing is not up in the air for Christians. You do not have a choice when it comes to whether you should vote. It is your duty. If you choose to stay at home, you have made the wrong choice. If you abstain on the basis of your principles, then you have shown yourself to be void of real convictions.

There are choices other than A and B. If you cannot vote for either, then find a candidate you can get behind. Stop being slothful, do your homework and your duty. Vote!

One reason this nation is in such pitiful shape is the fact that Christians only show up to vote by about 40%. If you stay home and things get bad, don’t blame the devil, don’t blame the rapture, blame yourself.

 

 

[1] Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

[2] Lossing, B. (Ed.). (n.d.). Harper’s Encyclopedia of United States History (p. 4316). Medford, MA: Perseus Digital Library.

[3] Lossing, B. (Ed.). (n.d.). Harper’s Encyclopedia of United States History (p. 4316). Medford, MA: Perseus Digital Library.

[4] Lossing, B. (Ed.). (n.d.). Harper’s Encyclopedia of United States History (p. 4316). Medford, MA: Perseus Digital Library.

[5] Lossing, B. (Ed.). (n.d.). Harper’s Encyclopedia of United States History (Vol. 1, p. 253). Medford, MA: Perseus Digital Library.

Donnie
I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice
http://www.southernbyhisgrace.com

3 thoughts on “Vote (continued)”

  1. Donnie, good to see you get your thoughts on the issue down in writing. As you would guess, I do have points that I’d like to bring out. 🙂

    First of all, I will grant that you do have more leeway to help a 3rd party if you live in a solidly non-swing State. I did the same thing in 2008 with Chuck Baldwin, although McCain was, IMO, more horrible a candidate than Trump ever dreamed of being. Plus, my logic then (if you’ll recall us talking about it) was we already had lost Congress, so an Obama Presidency would actually be preferable in that conservatives would galvanize and take Congress back, which we did. (Especially since the extreme D majorities would just have overridden any McCain vetoes anyway.)

    But that was then, and this is now. The R’s have Congress, at least for now, but I find it interesting after what we’ve been through with BHO that you understate the damage a HRC Presidency would do. The reasons you state for Congressional elections being more important are extremely out of date given today’s reality. In fact, the reasons you give to minimize the effect of a HRC Presidency are reasons why the President SHOULDN’T be all that important, but we both know that world doesn’t exist anymore. In the country we’re living in, Congress will only resist a President so much before either they will give in or the President will figure out a way to “executive order” or “recess appoint” their wishes into existence. Surely you aren’t making the case that a feckless Republican Congress, barely hanging onto the Senate, will resist Clinton’s Supreme Court appointees for four years. If you believe that, you probably believe Scalia died of natural causes. 🙂

    As far as there being a real choice besides A or B, I dispute that also. Sure, one could ‘choose’ candidate C, but that would be about as easy as writing in Micky Mouse, and it would have about as much effect (especially in this cycle). So your ‘choice’ there is just an illusion, a way for ‘principled’ conservatives to pat themselves on the back and say they accomplished something.

    In reality, to use a football term, our vote should conceivably ‘move the ball’ in the direction we feel our country should go in. We don’t need a TD – heck, at this point I’d settle for a turnover (win) and a three yard run in our direction! I’m not saying a 3rd party vote never moves the ball, but in this case we’re looking at quite possibly the LAST chance to get a Republican elected to a national office. If we lose this, the Dems open the floodgates permanently and fill this country with Third Worlders who will ensure their power forever, or at least as long as the US holds together.

    So, at least in a swing state, a non-vote for Trump does NOTHING to move the ball in our direction, and could actually hurt if Trump loses that state by the amount of votes ‘principled’ neverTrumpers refused to give him.

    Even if Trump fulfills 10% of what he says, plus puts 3-4 non Bolsheviks on the Court, we will be far better off. If he actually seals the border (to a good degree), we might even recover (maybe that’s grasping, but we have to try).

    So, there are 2 choices, period. There are no others, not legitimate ones anyway. We KNOW what HRC will do. Trump is a wild card and a very flawed candidate, but the movement behind him is what should count and what you should be joining, the movement for sealed borders, lowered taxes, fair trade, America first nationalism (vs globalism), and less foreign intervention. THAT’s why people are voting for Trump… and why the movement will remain even if Trump fails. In all reality the man, the flawed candidate, has very little to do with it.

    But if he doesn’t win, we have no shot at all.

    1. Scott, I appreciate your comments here but please understand, my goal here was not merely to rebut you and your articles or our conversations. This is a general education for those Christians, and I imagine there are many, who are struggling with what to do this November. I mean to clarify some of the bad thinking that is taking place due to rhetoric like “a vote against Trump is a vote for Hillary” and “anyone who votes for Trump has no principles”. The latter being less prevalent than the former but dealt with nonetheless.
      I don’t mean to minimize the amount of damage that HRC might do if elected, but its no different than ignoring the damage a Trump Presidency may in fact have. Both are real possibilities and you have admitted so in the past. To say that one is a guarantee while the other is merely “50%” possible isn’t much consolation for those who are struggling with their own principles.
      Another thing I hoped to clarify is the mud that you and others sling toward principled people who have a “real” struggle with their consciences when it comes to voting for Trump. I’m not sure comments like “So your ‘choice’ there is just an illusion, a way for ‘principled’ conservatives to pat themselves on the back and say they accomplished something.” is a good way to win people who are uncertain about their choice. The struggle some people have with their consciences is just as real as your perception or their choice. In fact, I think I’ve proved it to be more so. I’m just gonna say that either you are unaware to the fact that there are folks with principles for which they are willing to sacrifice, or you are using bad logic to rhetorically drive home a point that is only entrenching those people in their decision not to vote for Trump. I believe that most of those people completely understand the risk that you so eloquently lay out over and over, but their principled objections as conveyed to them by their consciences are more important to them than the consequences. I know that aggravates you but the fact of the matter is, they have thought clearly about what’s happening, have weighed the consequences, and have decided to remain true to their principles. You, on the other hand, have thought clearly, weighed the consequences, and have come to a more practical conclusion. I don’t believe folks should have problem with either. You haven’t abandoned your principles as some might claim. The others haven’t abandoned logic as you may insinuate at times.
      The rest of your points I’ll leave people to decide on their own as they read the article.

  2. Scott, I’d also like to say that I’m not so naive as to think that we still live in Jefferson’s America. We have been in a Lincolnian or Hamiltonian America for 150 years. But, as long as there is a basic frame, a skeleton of Jefferson’s Republic that exists in the Constitution and the process and the minds of some Americans, there is a chance albeit ever so small, that we can regain that form of self-governance.
    My personal opposition to Trump has more to do with that than any personal characteristics that may be exposed from time to time. In regard to his moral character, he is little different than many of our modern executives. It is his disregard for the separation of powers, his proclivity to unilateral actions, the perception of his proponents of a need for a more authoritarian approach to government, and a weak, mandate driven Congress that will acquiesce to his demands (just as they do BHO and would HRC) that bothers me. I can’t live under that type of oppression whether it comes from Democratic progressives or Republican progressives in which I classify the idea that we need a strong figurehead like Trump to govern for the good of the country, to be the latter. That idea is certainly not a conservative one. It is progressivism in all of its European monarchal, Thomas Hobbes philosophical, colonialism. Do you really believe that is a justifiable means to a proper Republican ends? Or, are you okay with a permanent end to the American Republic, nail in the coffin, dirt on the grave?
    My personal opinion is that type of tyranny is a good argument against the Piper SJW interpretation of Romans 13…
    My hope remains with state governments to nullify ANY efforts to subvert their authority by the general government whether it comes from Obama, Hillary, or Trump. For state judges to disregard SCOTUS and governors and legislatures to nullify POTUS and his congressional sidekicks is the answer as far as I’m concerned. DT with a mandate to be tyrant is not an acceptable answer. I’d rather see California nullify a conservative Federal decision than a conservative Federal government coerce California into submission on anything beyond its Constitutional scope.
    I don’t believe any of that is naivety and simply insinuating that it is, is an elitist condescension that is obvious to most.
    I don’t really fear this move toward more centralization because I believe some of the states are being providentially prepared for it. So, you and I are on the same page of a lot of this, but I am not willing to submit to your arguments on voting. Simply adding the word “real” or “for all practical purposes” are red herrings of their own. The choice remains, regardless of the adjective that qualifies them.

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