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Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Lesser of Two Evils

Every day, our government works less and less the way it’s supposed to; the way your school civics class told you it works. The reason: it’s corrupted by money.
Politicians spend huge amounts of time raising money for their election campaigns. They incur serious obligations to individuals and institutions whose narrow interests are often contrary to the common good. You and I increasingly understand that this is a problem. Nearly two thirds of Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and other decisions that, in effect, legalized unlimited secret contributions to political campaigns. Eight out of every ten Americans agree there’s too much money in politics. Here’s how we can try to fix it.
In November, don’t fall into the trap of voting for the least offensive of two uninspiring candidates. Instead, make your vote a protest. Vote for a write-in (REFORM, in big block letters!) or vote for a third-party candidate for every office. Do not accept the conventional wisdom that we are powerless to effect change. We must withhold support from our legislators until they reform the electoral process.
Shrinking support gets legislators’ attention like nothing else, and history shows that even though third parties regularly lose, over the long term they generate pressure on the major parties to address important issues.
Congress and state legislatures aren’t going to adopt campaign finance reform until we force them to do it. We have that power, but only if enough of us are willing to change our usual voting strategy. It is true that there are legitimate drawbacks to protest voting. Unless protest voters are drawn equally from the two major parties, this strategy might help elect a candidate who otherwise would have lost. But this is always recoverable at the next election, and the alternative is to accept the continuing undermining of our democracy.Once political campaigns are funded by public money instead of by special interests, politicians will be more accountable to voters and more responsive to our chronic problems. Independent candidates and other challengers who have no chance in the current system will be able to run serious campaigns. Debates about their ideas will replace today’s despicable attack ads, and our country will be the better for it. Money will always influence the electoral process, but once our protest votes force legislators to rewrite the rules so that the influence of big money is minimized, we will be on our way to restoring the kind of country where sound ideas and ability count more than dollars.
This is not about electing or defeating any individual candidate. This is about cooperating to reject money-driven elections, with the widespread corruption and policy distortions that inevitably result. Everything else that needs to be fixed depends on this.
This November, don’t do what big money expects you to do. Let’s make our votes count for real change.

According to The Columbia Encyclopedia, “the existence of only two major parties, as in most English-speaking countries, presupposes general public agreement on constitutional questions and on the aims of government.” The reason for two parties is that each might keep a check on the other in order that neither party exceeds its constitutional bounds. The competitive two-party system, so it was thought, would assure a continuum of moral as well as political rectitude. The competition would expose and thus rid the public offices of charlatans; only statesmen would hold down the jobs.
Certainly the two-party system aimed at, if it did not presuppose, honest candidates contending for office; that is, each office seeker fairly presenting his own beliefs, leaving to the voters the matter of choosing. In respectable two-party theory the candidate tries to persuade the voters that his views are the ones they should support. Clearly, the theory did not include the idea that vying candidates should be nothing but mere responses to voter opinion polls. That would be senseless. Were this the case, we could now feed all voter opinions into an electronic computer and, within a few seconds, have all legislation written for us!
Regardless of how respectable the theory, its practice has come a cropper. Today, trimming is so much in vogue that often a voter cannot cast a ballot except for one of two trimmers. Heard over and over again is the apology, “Well, the only choice I had was to vote for the lesser of two evils.” Implicit in this confession are a moral tragedy and a political fallacy which, in combination, must eventually lead to economic disaster.

. The Moral Tragedy

It is morally tragic whenever a citizen’s only choice is between two wrongdoers—that is, between two trimmers.
A trimmer, according to the dictionary, is one who changes his opinions and policies to suit the occasion. In contemporary political life, he is any candidate whose position on issues depends solely on what he thinks will have most voter appeal. He ignores the dictates of his higher conscience, trims his personal idea of what is morally right, tailors his stand to the popular fancy. Integrity, the accurate reflection in word and deed of that which is thought to be morally right, is sacrificed to expediency.
The above are severe charges, and I do not wish to be misunderstood. One of countless personal experiences will help clarify what is meant: A candidate for Congress sat across the desk listening to my views about limited government. At the conclusion of an hour’s discussion he remarked, “I am in thorough accord with your views; you are absolutely right. But I couldn’t get elected on any such platform, so I shall represent myself as holding views other than these.” He might as well have added, “I propose, in my campaign, to bear false witness.”
No doubt the candidate thought, on balance, that he was justified, that righteousness would be better served were he elected regardless of how untruthfully he represented his position—than were he to stand for his version of the truth and go down to defeat.
This candidate is “a mixed-up kid.” His values are topsy-turvy, as the saying goes. In an egotism that has no parallel, he puts his election to office above honesty. Why, asks the responsible voter, should I endorse dishonesty by voting for such a candidate? He has, on his own say-so, forsworn virtue by insisting on bearing false witness. Does he think his ambition for office is right because he needs a job? Then let him seek employment where want of principle is less harmful to others. Or, is his notion of rightness based on how much the rest of us would benefit by having him as our representative? What? A person without moral scruple representing us in Congress! The role of the legislator is to secure our rights to life, liberty, and property—that is, to protect us against fraud, violence, predation, and misrepresentation (false witness). Would our candidate have us believe that “it takes a crook to catch a crook”?

Such righteousness or virtue as exists in the mind of a man does not and cannot manifest itself in the absence of integrity—the honest, accurate reflection in deeds of one’s real beliefs. Without this virtue the other virtues must lie dormant and unused. What else remains? It is doubtful if anything contributes more to the diseased condition of society than the diminishing practice of integrity.
Those who attach this much importance to integrity must perforce construe trimming as evil. Therefore, when both candidates for public office are judged to be trimmers, the one who trims less than the other is often regarded as “the lesser of two evils.” But, is he really? It must be conceded that there are gradations of wrongdoing: killing is worse than stealing, and perhaps stealing is worse than covetousness. At least, if wrongdoing is not comparative, then it is self-evident that the best of us are just as evil as the worst of us; for man is fallible, all men!

Principles Will Not Bend

While categories of wrongdoing are comparative, it does not follow that wrong deeds within any given category of evil are comparative. For instance, it is murder whether one man is slain, or two. It is stealing whether the amount is ten cents or a thousand dollars. And, a lie is a lie whether told to one person or to a million. “Thou shalt not kill”; “Thou shalt not steal”; “Thou shalt not bear false witness” are derived from principles. Principles do not permit of compromise; they are either adhered to or surrendered.
Is trimming comparative? Can one trimmer be less at fault than another trimmer? Does the quantity of trimming have anything whatsoever to do with the matter? Or, rather, is this not a question of quality or character? To trim is to ignore the dictates of higher conscience; it is to take flight from integrity. Is not the candidate who will trim once for one vote likely to trim twice for more votes? Does he not demonstrate by any single act of trimming, regardless of how minor, that he stands ready to abandon the dictates of conscience for the place he seeks in the political sun? Does not the extent or quantity of trimming merely reflect a judgment as to how much trimming is expedient?
If the only relevant question at issue is whether or not a candidate will trim at all, then trimming is not comparative and, thus, it would be incorrect to report, “I cast my ballot for the lesser of two evils.” Accuracy would require, “I felt there was no choice except to cast a ballot for one of two men, both of whom have sacrificed integrity for the hope of votes.”

Irresponsible Citizenship

We must not, however, heap all our condemnation on candidates who trim. There would be no such candidates were it not for voters who trim. Actually, when we find only trimmers to vote for, most of us are getting what we deserve. The trimmers who succeed in offering themselves as candidates are, by and large, mere reflections of irresponsible citizenship—that is, of neglected thinking, study, education, vigilance. Candidates who trim and voters who trim are each cause and each effect; they feed on each other.
To repeat, when one must choose between men who forsake integrity, the situation is tragic, and there is little relief at the polling level except as candidates of integrity may be encouraged by voters of integrity. Impractical idealism? Of course not! Read Edmund Burke, one of the great statesmen of all time, addressing his constituency:
But his [the candidate's] unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

II. The Political Fallacy

Is it fallacious to believe that responsible citizenship requires casting a ballot for one or the other of two candidates, regardless of how far the candidates have departed from moral rectitude?
Before trying to arrive at an answer, let us reflect on the reason why the so-called duty of casting a ballot, regardless of circumstance, is so rarely questioned. Quite obviously, the duty to vote is one of those sanctified institutions, such as motherhood, which is beyond criticism. The obligation to vote at any and all elections, whatever the issues or personalities, is equated with responsible citizenship. Voting is deeply embedded in the democratic mores as a duty, and one does not affront the mores without the risk of scorn. To do so is to “raise the dead”; it is to resurrect questions that have been settled once and for all; it is to throw doubt on custom, tradition, orthodoxy, the folkways!
Yet any person who is conscious of our rapid drift toward the omnipotent state can hardly escape the suspicion that there may be a fault in our habitual way of looking at things. If the suspicion be correct, then it would be fatal never to examine custom. So, let us bring the sanctity of voting in to the open and take a hard look at it, not in the spirit of advocating something but of exploring it.

Hitler vs. Stalin

Now for the hard look: Where is the American who will argue that responsible citizenship requires casting a ballot if a Hitler and a Stalin were the opposing candidates? “Ah,” some will complain, “you carry the example to an absurdity.” Very well, let us move closer to home and our own experience.
Government in the U.S.A. has been pushed far beyond its proper sphere. The Marxian tenet, “from each according to ability, to each according to need,” backed by the armed force of the state, has become established polity. This is partly rationalized by something called “the new economics.” Within this kind of political framework, it is to be expected that one candidate will stand for the coercive expropriation of the earned income of all citizens, giving the funds thus gathered to those in groups A, B, and C. Nor need we be surprised that his opponent differs from him only in advocating that the loot be given to those in groups X, Y, and Z. Does responsible citizenship require casting a ballot for either of these political plunderers? The citizen has no significant moral choice but only an immoral choice in the event he has joined the unholy alliance himself and thinks that one of the candidates will deliver some of the largess to him or to a group he favors. In the latter case, the problem is not one of responsible citizenship but of irresponsible looting.

Registering a Protest

Does responsible citizenship require voting for irresponsible candidates? To ballot in favor of irresponsible candidates as though it were one’s duty is to misconstrue the meaning of duty. To cast a ballot for a trimmer, because no man of integrity is offering himself, does as much as one can with a ballot to encourage other trimmers to run for office. Can anyone conceive of any element of protest in such balloting? To vote for a trimmer goes further: it would seem to urge, as strongly as one can at the polls, that men of integrity not offer themselves as candidates.
What would happen if we adopted as a criterion: Never vote for a trimmer! Conceding a generous liberality on the part of the electorate, millions of us would not cast ballots. Would the end result of this substantial, nonviolent protest, this large-scale demonstration of “voting by turning our backs,” worsen our situation? It is difficult to imagine how it could. For a while we would continue to get what we now have: a high percentage of trimmers and plunderers in public office, men who promise privileges in exchange for ballots—and freedom. In time, however, with this silent but eloquent refusal to participate, the situation might, conceivably, improve. Men of integrity and high moral quality—statesmen—might show forth and, if so, we could add their numbers to the few now in office.
Would a return to integrity by itself solve our problem? No, for many men of integrity do not understand freedom; or, if they do, are not devoted to it. But it is only among men of integrity that any solution can begin to take shape. Such men, at least, will do the right as they see the right; they tend to be teachable. Trimmers and plunderers, on the other hand, are the enemies of morality and freedom by definition; their motivations are below the level of principles; they cannot see beyond the emoluments of office.1
Here is a thought to weigh: If respect for a candidate’s integrity were widely adopted as a criterion for casting a ballot, millions of us, as matters now stand, would not cast ballots. Yet, in a very practical sense, would not those of us who protest in this manner be voting? Certainly, we would be counted among that growing number who, by our conscious and deliberate inaction, proclaim that we have no party. What other choice have we at the polling level? Would not this encourage men of statesmanlike qualities to offer themselves in candidacy?

A Sacd Institutioren

Why is so much emphasis placed upon voting as a responsibility of citizenship?2 Why the sanctity attached to voting? Foremost, no doubt, is a carry-over from an all-but-lost ideal in which voting is associated with making choices between honest beliefs, between candidates of integrity. We tend to stick with the form without regard to what has happened to the substance. Further, it may derive in part from the general tendency to play the role of Robin Hood, coupled with a reluctance to acknowledge this practice for what it is. Americans, at least, have some abhorrence of forcibly taking from the few and giving to the many without any sanction whatsoever. That would be raw dictatorship. But few people with this propensity feel any pangs of conscience if it can be demonstrated that “the people voted for it.” Thus, those who achieve political power are prone to seek popular sanction for what they do. And, as government increases its plundering activities, more and more citizens “want in” on the popular say-so. Thus it is that pressures increase for the extension of the franchise. Time was when only property holders could vote or, perhaps, even cared to vote. In 1870 the franchise was extended to Negroes and in 1920 to women. Now the drive is on to lower the age from 21 to 18, and this has already been achieved in some places.
Frédéric Bastiat gave us some good thoughts on this subject:
“If law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all properties; if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the individual’s right to self-defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppression and plunder—is it likely that we citizens would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?
“Under these circumstances, is it likely that the extent of the right to vote would endanger that supreme good, the public peace? Is it likely that the excluded classes would refuse to peaceably await the coming of their right to vote? Is it likely that those who had the right to vote would jealously defend their privilege?
“If the law were confined to its proper functions, everyone’s interest in the law would be the same. Is it not clear that, under these circumstances, those who voted could not inconvenience those who did not vote?”3

An Alternative

We can, it seems to me, glean from the foregoing that there is no moral or political or social obligation to vote merely because we are confronted with ballots having names and/or issues printed thereon. Has this so-called obligation of a citizen to vote, regardless of the ballot presentations, any more to support it than political madness on the rampage? And, further, does this not deny to the citizen the only alternative left to him—not to endorse persons or measures he regards as repugnant? When presented with two trimmers, how else, at this level, is he to protest? Abstinence from ballot-casting would appear to be his only way to avoid being untrue to himself.
If we seek more evidence than we now have as to the sacrosanctity of ballot-casting as a citizenship duty, we need only observe the crusading spirit of get-out-the-vote campaigns. One is made to feel like a slacker if he does not respond.
To rob this get-out-the-vote myth of its glamour, no more is required than to compare ballot-casting as a means of selecting representatives with a method devoid of all voter judgment: selection by lot. Politically unthinkable as it is, reflect, just for example, on your own congressional district. Disqualify all under 21, all of the insane, all illiterates, all convicts.4 Write the names of the balance on separate cards to put into a mixing machine, and let some blindfolded person withdraw one card. Presto! Here is your next representative in Congress, for one term only. After all, how can a person qualify to vote if he is not qualified to hold the office himself? And, further, it is assumed, he will feel duty-bound to serve, as when called for jury duty.

Wanted: An “Ordinary Citizen”

The first reaction to such a procedure is one of horror: “Why, we might get only an ordinary citizen.” Very well. Compare such a prospect with one of two wrongdoers which all too frequently is our only choice under the two-party, ballot-casting system. Further, I submit that there is no governmental official, today, who can qualify as anything better than an “ordinary citizen.” How can he possibly claim any superiority over those upon whose votes his election depends? And, it is of the utmost importance that we never ascribe anything more to any of them. Not one among the millions in officialdom is in any degree omniscient, all-seeing, or competent in the slightest to rule over the creative aspects of any other citizen. The recognition that a citizen chosen by lot could be no more than an ordinary citizen would be all to the good. This would automatically strip officialdom of that aura of almightiness which so commonly attends it; government would be unseated from its master’s role and restored to its servant’s role, a highly desirable shift in emphasis.
Reflect on some of the other probable consequences:
a. With nearly everyone conscious that only “ordinary citizens” were occupying political positions, the question of who should rule would lose its significance. Immediately, we would become acutely aware of the far more important question: What should be the extent of the rule? That we would press for a severe limitation of the state seems almost self-evident.
b. No more talk of a “third party” as a panacea. Political parties, which have become all but meaningless as we know them, would cease to exist.
c. No more campaign speeches with their promises of how much better we would fare were the candidates to spend our income for us.
d. An end to campaign fundraising.
e. No more self-chosen “saviors” catering to base desires in order to win elections.
f. An end to that type of voting in Congress which has an eye more to re-election than to what’s right.
g. The mere prospect of having to go to Congress during a lifetime, even though there would be but one chance in some 10,000, would completely reorient citizens’ attention to the principles which bear on government’s relationship to society. Everyone would have an incentive to “bone up,” as the saying goes, if for no other reason than not to make a fool of himself, just in case! There would be an enormous increase in self-directed education in an area on which the future of society depends. In other words, the strong tendency would be to bring out the best, not the worst, in every citizen.
It would, of course, be absurd to work out the details, to refine, to suggest the scope of a selection-by-lot design, for it hardly falls within the realm of either probability or possibility—at least, not for a long, long time. Further, only folly would be heaped on absurdity were one to advocate any meddling with the present machinery.

Reform Follows Understanding

Why, if one believes mass voting to be inferior to selection by lot, should one not urge immediate reform? Let me slightly rephrase an explanation by Gustave Le Bon:
The reason is that it is not within our power to force sudden transformations in complex social organisms. Nature has recourse, at times, to radical measures, but never after our fashion, which explains how it is that nothing is more fatal to a people than the mania for great reforms, however excellent these reforms may appear theoretically. They would only be useful were it possible suddenly to change a whole nation of people. Men are ruled by ideas, sentiments, customs—these are of men’s essence. Institutions (social organisms) and laws are but the outward manifestation or outcome of the underlying ideas, sentiments, customs, in short, character. To urge a different outcome would in no way alter men’s character—or the outcome.5
Why, then, should selection by lot be so much as mentioned? Merely to let the mind dwell on this intriguing alternative to current political inanities gives all the ammunition one needs to refrain from casting a ballot for one of two candidates, neither of whom is guided by integrity. Unless we can divorce ourselves from this unprincipled myth, we are condemned to a political competition that has only one end: the omnipotent state. This would conclude all economic freedom and with it, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of worship. And even freedom to vote will be quite worthless—as it is under any dictatorship.
Responsible citizenship demands, first of all, a personal attention to and a constant re-examination of one’s own ideas, sentiments, customs. Such scrutiny may reveal that voting for candidates who bear false witness is not required of the good citizen. At the very least, the idea merits thoughtful exploration.


  1. If it be conceded that the role of government is to secure “certain unalienable rights, that among them are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” by what stretch of the imagination can this be achieved when we vote for those who are openly committed to unsecuring these rights?
  2. Responsibilities of citizenship involve a host of personal attributes, first and foremost a duty to one’s Maker, duty to self, to family, to neighbors, and so on. Is it not evident, therefore, that voting is a mere formality after the fact? It’s much too late to be a responsible citizen if the responsibility hasn’t been exercised before election day. Everybody voted for Khrushchev in the last Russian election! Clearly, that was no evidence of responsible citizenship.
  3. See The Law by Frédéric Bastiat, pp. 16–17. Obtainable from the Foundation for Economic Education.
  4. One might like to disqualify everybody who receives governmental aid but, then, who would remain? The very bread we eat is subsidized. Those who ride on planes or use the mails, and so on, would be disqualified.
  5. See The Crowd by Gustave Le Bon (New York: The Viking Press, 1960), p. 4.

Are Christians content to vote for the lesser of two evils?  The Republican Party sure seems to think so.  Their battle cry of “Anyone but Obama” has been reverberating across the land for nearly two years now, but is that really the kind of philosophy that should determine the leader of our nation?  John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, said that “it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”  This election may be the very first election in the history of America in which neither of the presidential candidates from the two major parties can legitimately claim to be a Christian.  Should the Christians of America be willing to vote for the lesser of two evils?

No! We should not.  In Romans 3:7, Paul asks a question that has been the focus of countless debates throughout the whole of human history.  If we know for sure that telling a lie would accomplish more for the Lord than telling the truth, would the lie be justified by the good that it could accomplish?  Verse 8 of the same chapter gives us the answer to that question in saying that we are not to do evil that good may come.  The answer of Romans 3:8 stands in stark contrast to the prevailing philosophy of our day which is based on Voltaire’s pragmatic doctrine of “the best is the enemy of the good.”  This philosophy is often reflected in the political dogma of the major parties, but the answer of God’s Word is very clear.  “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught.” (II Thessalonians 2:15)  

Consider the instruction given to us in Romans 16:17-20:

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.  And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Let’s apply this to the particular topic of politics.  In this passage, God tells us to mark certain politicians and avoid them – don’t follow them – don’t vote for them.  Which ones?  The ones who cause Christians to either divide or offend in a manner contrary to God’s Word.  Notice that he doesn’t speak of all those who cause divisions and offenses, for even the Word of God causes division (Hebrews 4:12).  It is only those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to God’s Word that we are to avoid.  This could be someone who says: “We don’t need to be divided over the issue of whether abortion is right or wrong.  We all agree that there should be fewer abortions, so let’s just join together to accomplish that goal.  Let’s limit our divisions to things like who we want to win the Super Bowl.”  This kind of politician is to be avoided.  He serves not our Lord Jesus Christ, but his own belly, and he uses good works and fair speeches to deceive the people into following him.  

Now, verse 19 has direct application to today’s conservatives.  Notice that God begins by praising them for being obedient and having a great testimony, but He said that He would yet have them do something more.  He wanted them to be wise unto that which is good and simple concerning evil.  Notice that the contrast is between wisdom and simplicity not between knowledge and ignorance.  The Bible tells us that a wise man “useth knowledge aright.” (Proverbs 15:2)  Therefore, God’s desire for us is that we will use our knowledge of the candidates correctly by casting our vote unto that which is good.  We are to be simple concerning evil in that we refuse to use our knowledge in a manner that helps these men who are causing divisions and offenses contrary to the Word of God.  

Then notice verse 20.  What will be the result of rejecting those politicians who cause us to go against the Word of God?  When we do this, God gives us victory not over our political opponents but over Satan himself, which brings me to I Peter 5:8-9.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

What is Satan’s desire for this country?  Is it not the same thing that he desires for every country?  Is it not to turn us away from following God and to cause us to be more and more wicked until God Himself is forced to destroy us?  As Christians, we must remember that Satan is our real enemy, not the other political party.  Perhaps to defeat our political opponents it would be wise to compromise and permit a little bit of evil into our ranks in exchange for more votes, but that tactic will never work against Satan.  This enemy can only be defeated by standing firm and without compromise on what we believe to be true.

Many say that this philosophy is all well and good but that it will never work in the “real” world.  Of course, my first question is which world is more real, the world created by God and subject to His laws or a world governed by the imaginations of mere men?  But I have also asked these people to explain why it will not work, and I always get an answer along the lines of, “He can’t get enough votes” or “He doesn’t have enough money.”  I have never once received the answer of, “Because God will not bless him with a victory.”  In fact, God is left completely out of their explanation as if He doesn’t even exist.  But we know that God does exist.  He does govern the affairs of men, and He never loses.  Therefore, His side of the issue is always the winning side.  

I am reminded of the passage in Isaiah 46:9-10:  

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.

However, we must keep in mind that as Christians, sometimes our victory comes in spite of a loss.  According to I Peter 3:14-16, sometimes God asks the righteous to suffer a loss so that He can put the wicked to shame. 

But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled … Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

At first, this may seem counter intuitive, but let’s consider two opposing scenarios.  Imagine for a moment that the Republican National Convention has concluded, and a very liberal contender has been announced as the Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States.  There are two possible responses that the Christians of America could have to this decision by the Republican Party.  They could choose to fall in line and vote for the Republican candidate regardless of his anti-biblical positions, or they could reject the decision of the Republican Party and vote for a candidate who has committed to govern our nation in a way that agrees with God’s Word.  

Each of these two responses would produce a different result within the Republican Party.  If the Christians of America choose the first option of supporting whichever candidate bears the Republican title, then the leaders of the Republican Party will have once again confirmed their presumption that the Christians will never abandon the Republican Party.  If they have no fear of losing the Christian vote, then they will continue to seek out and support candidates who appeal to the vote which they are afraid of losing – the vote of the moderates and liberals.  On the other hand, if the Christians of America choose the latter option and the Republican Party loses the upcoming presidential election, then the response of the party leaders will be very different.  They will have learned that their abandonment of biblical principles is unacceptable to Christian voters, and in the future, they will seek out and support candidates who appeal to the vote which they are afraid of losing – the vote of their Christian base.  As long as the Republican Party believes that the Christian base will simply fall in line and vote for whatever candidate they put forth, they will continue to seek candidates that appeal directly to voters that are more liberal.

This analysis brings us to the conclusion that pragmatism is self-perpetuating.  Each time that the Christians of our nation give in to Voltaire’s pragmatic approach of choosing the lesser of two evils, we make our plight more difficult.  I am reminded of the nations which occupied the land of Israel after it was conquered by the king of Assyria.  At first, these nations had no fear of the God of Israel, and they suffered major setbacks as a result, but then they came up with a compromise.  They decided to learn about God and tell everyone that they feared Him while at the same time continuing to actually serve their own gods.  II Kings 17:40-41 reveals to us the long-term results of that decision:

Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.  So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

The people of those nations chose a pragmatic compromise, and their descendants were never able to turn back from the course which had been set.

It is imperative that we remember the warning given in Hebrews 3:12-14.

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

Now, perhaps you are wondering why I skipped verse 15 in my quote from II Peter chapter 3.  Verse 15 of this chapter provides us with a response to those Republicans who insist that we would do more harm than good if we refuse to vote for a liberal Republican candidate.  This verse states:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Here we see the true genius in deciding to vote according to God’s Word regardless of the consequences.  A Christian who publicly refuses to vote for any candidate that does not adhere to biblical principles will have many people ask him how he can have any hope for the future of our nation when he chooses to vote in such a manner.  What better opportunity could there be for teaching others that our hope is in the Lord?  I have a friend who is an atheist, and he is a very difficult man to witness to; but when I told him that I would not vote for a liberal Republican, he immediately wanted to know why.  My simple stand on the principles of the Bible opened the door for a discussion on the work of God throughout the course of human history.  

As we enter the general election season, let us remember that our hope for the future of our nation is not found in a political party but rather in our submission to the Word of God.  It is God who controls the heart of the king (Proverbs 21:1) and the course of the nation.  Let us cast our vote in His favor, and marvel at the work of His hand.  Regardless of the political outcome, we cannot possibly fail as long as we seek to follow Him (Psalm 37:18-20).  

In I Chronicles 19:13, Joab decided that he would stand his ground and fight for the Lord regardless of the consequences.  In doing so, he gave his brother the following exhortation:

Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight.

Are you willing to follow the advice of Joab?  I have determined that I will never again cast my vote in support of a candidate who holds to unbiblical principles in areas directly affected by the position that he is seeking to fill.  Will you join me in rejecting the pragmatism of this world and refusing to vote for the lesser of two evils?

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