My Faith Doesn’t Vote
Editors Note: Dave is waxing philosophical again. He was going to go back and redo all of this, but the day caught up and he didn’t have the time to do it over again. You know how he is about those stupid self-imposed deadlines. So if you happen to be a person who gets offended when faith is criticized, you probably want to skip this blog today and come back on Monday when Dave has more time to focus on the news of the day. – Producer Henri
When we have two really bad Candidates, a third option that is really just the worst of one of the two main parties masquerading as a third party along with the usual Greens, Commies and other assorted crazy’s rounding out the top of the ticket, along with the Prop 14 enforced loss of freedom of association and alternate choices down ballot, it’s become clear that the worst of everything is all we have left to debate and discuss. So instead of debating and discussing it like rational people, we – collectively, probably not you specifically* – have taken the level of discourse down several notches and made fools of ourselves.
Facts no longer matter. If you are a Catholic and you vote for Hillary, you are in danger of your eternal soul. Protestant mainline Christians are told that Trump is “pro-Life” and pro-Israel, so they MUST vote for him or Clinton will force them to have a gay marriage and let more Immigrants in to take over their jobs. Some go so far as to claim that because G-d once or twice chose bad people to be His leaders and instruments in the past, that indicates that Trump can be supported by Christians**. Yesterday, I was informed that as a person of the Jewish faith, I absolutely must not, cannot, don’t even think about it, vote for Trump.
From purely theological viewpoints – if there even is such a thing – perhaps all these dire warnings and threats are valid. But here’s the thing: I don’t vote my faith. Maybe I am the weirdo here, but I have always believed in keeping my faith separated from my voting. Okay, IF two candidates were ever found in my mind to be completely equal in all considerations, How would I break the tie? Easy, first tiebreaker is military service. Second is experience, i.e., I would choose a businessman over a governor over a Senator over a Representative. Thirdly, are they a Dodgers or Broncos fan. Far down the list is whether or not they are Jewish.
Not because I don’t think faith is important, I absolutely do think that it is. For a person. For an individual. Not, for whether or not they will be a good leader. Jimmy Carter is a man of deep Christian faith and action. He was a lousy President. Herbert Hoover was a man of deep faith and action. He was a lousy President.
A person of deep or even mild faith might use their faith to guide them, but it’s more likely than not they won’t. So from my point of view, why worry about it at all?
We have watched recently a man be savaged as he ran over his faith. Mitt Romney, a Mormon, was ridiculed for his church’s beliefs and it’s long history of less than progressive thinking on social ideas. In other elections we have seen men of otherwise good strengths be whispered about because of where they went on a Sunday morning.
I am more convinced than ever that Prohibition was a bad idea. Not because of the standard libertarian philosophy of “You can’t legislate morality,” but because the whole thing was just a progressive idea (pushed by the GOP, no less) for government control of individual actions. Put that aside for the moment and ask yourself what you know about the 1928 Presidential election. Al Smith is one of the most interesting and engaging candidates this nation has ever seen. And, he openly and actively opposed prohibition. He promised to work to get it repealed and most of the nations voters agreed with his, His opponent, was a fine and deeply committed Christian of Quaker persuasion, Herbert Hoover. Hoover carefully refused to opposed Prohibition, and pretty much supported it as a part of the Party Platform.
While many people liked Smiths earthiness and stand on prohibition, there was still that belief that as a Roman Catholic, he would be guided not by the Constitution, but by the Pope. Despite that, Smith carried the notoriously anti-Catholic Bible Belt, and still lost 444-87 in the Electoral College. Look, Hoover was a good man, and would again and again before and after he left office prove his commitment to his faith beliefs and practices. But don’t you wonder just a little bit, if people had set aside their religious tests and elected Smith if prohibition wouldn’t have ended sooner? More than that, what effect would Smith’s election had in 1960?
I had the chance last week to sit around the breakfast table and talk with my folks about the 1960’s and politics. They lived it. My dad remembered the speech Kennedy gave in Houston in September of 1960. I think it’s his best speech. Of course, I wasn’t there, but my dad remembered it. He told me that he liked Kennedy on national defense and foreign policy, but that otherwise, he was just a liberal. His social ideas were too radical. The unsaid, but undercurrent was there was that Catholic faith hanging over his head. Many people, just as in 1928, couldn’t see past that, even after Kennedy made it clear that the Constitution, not the Pope, was the final arbiter of what decisions would be made.
I feel like we have come full circle. Now instead of two pretty good people who are differing faiths, as in 1928 and 1960, we have two people who use faith as a punch line or a crutch. And yet, people of all faiths have made it their mission in life to somehow or another justify the vote against the other by reasons completely of faith.
All of which leads me to ask, what happened to being virtuous American Citizens in the ballot box? The Constitution protects religious liberty by not requiring religious tests for office. No man or woman’s faith should be the limiting or enabling factor in whether or not they are fit for office. But likewise, no citizen should be making judgments for office based solely on their faith.
There has been for many, many months something about this that bothers me tremendously – and that is the hypocrisy of faith in voting. The compromise that people are willing to make in the name of “faith.” One of the early candidates for President was held up as a deeply religious and committed man of faith – which he is. But that faith was watered down by his supporters into a general category of “Christian,” and virtually no reference was made to his denomination. In fact, I have found that few of those who support him in the basis of he is a “G-dly” man even knew what denomination he is. When they find out, their eyes kind of rattle around for a few seconds as they desperately seek to find a way to justify their long standing dislike of that denomination with their stated support of the man based on his faith.
When people discover that a certain cattle rancher is in fact an end times activist, trying to bring about the end of the world and the millennial age based on his faith, the luster of his actions seems to fade a bit in the minds of people who supporting him based on his faith.
All of this to say that we have a big responsibility. Yes, faith matters. But it is not nor should it ever be the deciding factor in our votes. If the only reason I am given by my Rabbi for not voting for Trump is that he is “anti-Semitic” even though he is pro-Israel, then I have to wonder if my Rabbi has ever studied the Constitution and the Founders and Framers? Or if you don’t like that reference, how about the famed “Enlightenment?” The Framers understood faith in context. They rejected it as the basis for political reasoning and held to the hope that We the People would as well.
There is a long history in America of preaching politics from the pulpit. I have to laugh when people complain about the “other side” doing it, because all sides do it. And always have.
And I will always react with great disdain for those who inform me that I must vote a certain way because of faith.
No, I don’t have to not vote for Trump because I am Jewish. I didn’t vote for Trump because in my view, he is Constitutionally illiterate and dangerous to free speech. I didn’t vote for Clinton, not because I am a Jew, but because in my view she is what the Framers were desperately trying to avoid – an power mad oligarch who wants to use the power of government to force me to think and live the way she has decided I should think and live.
And I didn’t vote for any of the others running because let’s face it, they’re all nuts too.
*Although you are doing it too
** I read yesterday a pastors piece on how G-d chose and used Saul even though he was a “bad person.” I can’t find the link right now, mostly because it was such bad theology and exegesis that I just moved on. But if I find it I will link it up above. Sorry.
Posted on November 4, 2016, in 2016 Presidential, American, Constitution, Donald Trump, Elections, Hillary Clinton, History, Pope, Religion and tagged 1928 Election, 1960 Election, 2016 Election, Al Smith, Donald Trump, Faith, Herbert Hoover, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Mitt Romney. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.