This has been the strangest presidential election season I
can remember, and I remember back to JFK in the 1960s. Fair warning this is going to appear really cynical, but stick with me to the end before you write me off.
If nothing else, the campaigns of this political season have given us nearly endless
material for sardonic memes and twisted humor. But our laughter is mostly sad, not humorous, and it’s without hope.
We can easily find a thousand reasons why Mr Trump is not
fully qualified to be Chief Executive of America. And his opponents are right:
he really is crass and thoughtless, maniacally egotistical and he lacks any political
And just as easily, we can find a thousand reasons why Ms
Clinton is not fully qualified to be Chief Executive of the United States.
And her adversaries are right: she really is power hungry, committed only to
her own aspirations, and she lacks any experience whatsoever other than political
There appear to be a small number of people who are honestly confident supporting
one candidate or the other, and there probably are a few more who are so
blindly loyal to their ideology that they could not conceive of not voting for
the candidate of their favored political party. And I’ve met individuals who
are convinced that it’s “God’s will” that whichever candidate they support should
defeat the candidate that they demonize, and anyone who disagrees is obviously opposing God.
I find myself considering the two options in terms of which
choice is less unthinkable. Would I despise myself less if I voted for Hillary
to be my president, or would I forgive myself sooner if I cast my ballot for The
Donald to be my president. I can’t decide.
I don’t think that’s a very good way to make decisions anyway:
which would I hate myself less for, should I support them? Neither
candidate is tolerable from my viewpoint.
Well then. If I don’t vote for the candidate, then perhaps I
could vote for one party or the other.
But that doesn’t offer to help much either. One party says
they support the business and economic foundation of our country, and that’s a good thing, and they speak about certain moral choices that I’m used to supporting.
The other party says they support the social foundation for the country, and
that’s a good thing, and they want to help people that can’t help themselves and I'm used to supporting that.
That’s what they say. But when I watch what they do, I
observe that there’s not so much difference between the two parties. Both of
them seem to have sold out their collective souls for campaign contributions and
Political Action Committees. And certainly, both parties have let any
opportunity to create actual change slip through their fingers, as they have
both of them lined their own pockets, secured their own retirements, and exempted
themselves from the rules they demand everyone else shall live under.
Worse, both parties in our two-party political system appear
to be on somebody’s payroll, and it looks to me like they’re on the same somebody’s
payroll. And if I look closely, it appears that this real power behind them, if
I were judging by what their handsomely-paid minions actually accomplish, that someone seems
to hate my country and despise my faith.
So I can’t, in clear conscience, vote for either party. More
specifically, were I to vote for either party, for either candidate, it seems
to me that I’d be completely wasting my vote. The “powers that be” would accomplish their own agenda, regardless of who sat in the oval office and took their orders.
Maybe I’ve been gazing into Heaven for too long, but the
“halls of power” of this earth sure look pitiful and powerless to me recently.
And it dawns on me that our electoral process serves the same purpose in our
generation that the Coliseum served in Rome’s
day: cheap entertainment for the masses, keeping them distracted from the real
issues in the country, in the world.
All of this has led me to this strange thought: If casting
my vote for Donald or Hillary is a wasted vote, a meaningless gesture, then is
there something that I can do with my vote that is not a waste, that is instead meaningful?
When you begin to think outside the box, all sorts of
opportunities begin to show themselves.
Here are some of my thoughts about what I could do instead
of investing myself in a political process that revolves around choosing the
less despicable of two despicable candidates for a increasingly powerless
position. (Note that I am not saying that the presidency is “powerless,” merely
that is it has less real power, less ability to effect real change, than it used
I could decide not to participate in the
political charade at all, choosing to invest my time, money and energy into
something useful. Perhaps I could pray, not so much for “my candidate” to win, but for
the values of the Kingdom (love, for example, or humility) to be present in those
who lead my nation or yours.
I might choose not to participate in the
political process at all, choosing instead to invest that time, money and
energy into something that brings peace, rather than supporting tension,
division and outrage. Perhaps I could plant a garden, or begin volunteering at the
food bank, or take a vacation, or teach someone to read, or sit with my family
in the evenings. Maybe I could write a story or make pottery or just dig a hole and fill it back up again.
I could participate in the political process,
but do it in a new and different way. Perhaps I could cast my vote for
candidates not affiliated with the two main parties: it’s time we were done
with the two-party system anyway. There are competent candidates from the
and the Green party
. Maybe it’s time to vote for them, since
my vote would be meaningless if I squandered it on Donald or Hillary anyway.
I could ignore the national political scene altogether, and
invest myself in my city’s government, or police force, or port commission or
fire department or school board. Instead of being a tiny voice among millions
of tiny voices shouting in favor of the despicable candidate or the unconscionable
candidate, maybe I could be a real voice, maybe one that has a chance to actually get
heard, in a much smaller and infinitely less-glamorous arena in my own
Instead of giving donations to candidates or
committees or other political tomfoolery, perhaps I could give my money, and maybe
even (gasp!) my time, to the local street mission, or to foreign missions, or
to that business that’s trying to create jobs for the otherwise unemployable
members of our society.
Instead of participating in the time-honored
tradition of blindly defending my candidate and pouring out my outrage on their
opponent, perhaps I could choose to invest in words that heal, words that encourage. These could be
distributed anywhere: public transportation, local businesses, local
government. Some of these places – some of these people – haven’t heard a real
“voice of reason” for longer than they can remember. Maybe I can be that
voice of reason, or maybe I can aspire to be a voice of encouragement and hope.
I’m interested in your opinion – certainly not your opinion
about candidates – but about how you could defy “the system,” how you could get out of “the
box” and do something meaningful.
The best part of the conversation will be on Facebook
. Come join in.