How To Choose the Next President

*Posted by Joe Wooddell

1 Timothy 2:1-4 says to pray for leaders so that we may live tranquil, quiet, godly, dignified lives, so the gospel can go forth freely. In the US, we are the leaders. To pray for our leaders and not vote, therefore, is disingenuous and irresponsible. It is foolish not to vote in the next (or any) presidential election, and since no one but Obama or Romney can win it is foolish to vote for anyone else. Choose the one you think fits your worldview (and policy preferences) more closely, regardless of how you “feel” about the candidate. My main concern is not how “likable” he is, or how well he “relates” to the “man in the street.” I am interested in what he thinks and what he probably will do on the following issues:

1. Life

I shall vote for the candidate who is more pro-life. Recently I had a discussion with a man who said, “I’m pro-life, but I don’t think it’s right to tell a woman what to do with her body.” This notion doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. If the baby inside her is really human (which it is), then it has its own individual, God-given, human rights, among which is the right to life. If you wouldn’t allow killing a baby once it’s outside the womb, then you shouldn’t allow killing it when it’s inside the womb. The fact that it’s not yet breathing air is irrelevant. Scott Klusendorff says there are only four things which differ between people outside the womb and those inside the womb, none of which warrants killing someone: size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency (acronym SLED). You don’t kill someone because he’s small, because he has not yet fully developed into what he one day will become, because he’s in a different environment, or because he depends on something (or someone) else for life and sustenance. And if “privacy” is your argument, you can’t kill someone just because you do it in private. Finally, one who opposes capital punishment does not value life sufficiently. Failing to kill a convicted murderer is to devalue the life that he took (see Gen. 9:6).

2. Marriage

Marriage is between one man and one woman. Gays have the right to get married, so long as they marry one person of the opposite gender. This is not a civil rights issue, and black people should be outraged that gays are trying to play this card, for it diminishes blacks’ own historical struggle. Their struggle was about God-given rights and being recognized as equally human (as Martin Luther King, Jr. rightly argued). No one in his right mind sees gays as sub-human. The family is the backbone of our great republic. Redefining marriage severs the spinal cord, thus paralyzing us when it comes to our internal strength and morality.

3. The Supreme Court

I’d love to think Supreme Court justices base their decisions on the Constitution, but both liberal and conservative justices often base their decisions on their personal policy preferences. In light of this, I shall vote for the candidate who seems more likely to appoint justices that share my own personal policy preferences (notwithstanding Bush II’s appointment of John Roberts, who ended up being the deciding vote in upholding the bulk of Obamacare).

4. Economics

Policies which produce a bigger national debt and budget deficit, which increase the size of government, which give more and more people government handouts, which punish creativity, entrepreneurship, hard work, and personal responsibility – such policies are bad for the economy, bad for minorities, bad for the poor, bad for the rich, and bad for national security. I shall vote for the candidate who I think will do less of these things. Dennis Prager rightly says, “The Left is not interested in prosperity; it’s interested in equality.” I would add that, since it can’t figure out how to lift everyone up to prosperity together, its only recourse is to bring down the wealthy as much as possible.

5. National Defense and Israel

Whether you like Israel or not, Israel is our most important ally in the Middle East, and other elements in the Middle East are our biggest threat right now. I shall vote for the candidate who seems most friendly with Israel and most willing to be proactive in protecting the US from our enemies in the Middle East. Moreover, I shall vote for the candidate who wants to keep our military (including our nuclear ability) the best, most advanced, and strongest in the world.

These are not the only issues, but they are a good start and guide. Believers in particular should think carefully about such issues and their implications.

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12 Responses to How To Choose the Next President

  1. No Fool says:

    Following your logic, we are foolish no matter what we do. We should all vote for Romney because it is all but certain that Obama can’t win in Texas, and if Obama can’t win in our state it would be foolish to vote for him. (Which is just to say what we already know: unless you happen to live in one of the contested states your vote is remarkably inconsequential.) However, since Romney is behind in all the states that count, it is looking less and less likely that he has even half a chance to win the election. So if we don’t think that Romney can win, we would be foolish to vote for him. So, we are foolish no matter what we do.

    All of this to say that I think you are wrong. If we do in fact have a moral imperative to vote, that can have nothing do with who might win or what probability we can attach to a certain outcome. So the fact that either Romney or Obama will win no more constrains me to vote for one of them than if only one candidate could win would constrain me to vote only for that person. Given your 5 criteria, you should probably vote for Virgil Goode, the candidate for the Constitution Party (he won’t win, but neither will Romney), because his platform more closely reflects your criteria. If you want to do more than just “vote your worldview” – if you want Obama to lose – then move to a swing state and start campaigning for Romney. You’re foolish if you don’t . . .

    • Pat says:

      No fool – I think you are wrong! John Kennedy was behind in most of the states, as was Harry Truman, but they both won.

      • No Fool says:

        That isn’t really the point. Dr. Wooddell says, “, , , since no one but Obama or Romney can win it is foolish to vote for anyone else.” The implication is that you shouldn’t ‘waste’ your vote on a candidate who can’t win. IF you are convinced that Romney can’t (and I can only interpret “can’t” here as “probably won’t”) win the election, then you are foolish if you vote for him, and you are foolish if you don’t vote for Obama. This conclusion seems clearly wrong, hence there must be something wrong with the inference.

    • jdwooddell says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful reply. (FYI, Rasmussen has 105 electoral votes up for grabs.) A vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote (for president) no matter where one lives, and it might hurt the chances of the “lesser of the two evils” from the main parties. You make a good point about the possible irrationality of voting for one’s candidate in a state where one’s candidate is unlikely to win; but I think one should vote for him nonetheless, in hopes that it will shift over time. I think there’s a better chance of reforming the parties from within (and choosing candidates over time who reflect those reforms) than of a third party ever catching on. Finally, the presidential race is much different from, say, a congressional race. The presidential candidate has to play to the middle, and more often than not the congressional candidate has to play more to the right or left. I mention this because realizing this should help make one okay with voting for someone one doesn’t see as the perfect candidate.

  2. Curtis says:

    You are in quite a dilemma. Obama is clear about what he supports and for that I am thankful. We know exactly where he stands and he has stood where he stands all of his political career.

    If your choice is Romney, then you are in a pickle. Be honest and admit that you really don’t know what this man stands for and you really don’t know what he will do on the issues you raised. You certainly cannot track it based on his political career, because we have a different presidential candidate Romney than Governor Romney. Abortion, women’s rights, health-care, etc.

    One thing you do know about Romney and that is he is anti-Christ as John has in it his 1st Epistle. His Mormonism trumps everything you raised. So go ahead and vote for your world-view as long as you keep the Apostle John out of it.

    • jdwooddell says:

      It seems clear to me that the two are different. Believers should take everything they (think they) know about the candidates overall and decide which is less anti-Christ, as you put it, and vote for that candidate.

      • loulove says:

        “less anti-Christ” are you serious? Obama makes what appears at times to be a credible confession of faith. His positions on many fronts calls into question his profession.

        Romney clearly and unashamedly belongs to an institution which flat out denies the truth concerning Jesus Christ.

        One candidate’s actions denies his profession, the other does not even have a credible profession.

        Supporting a “less anti-Chirst” does not seem to be a viable option for believers in Jesus Christ.

      • No Fool says:

        This whole line of argument strikes me as absurd. Being a Christian no more qualifies you to be the president than a plumber or an accountant, and not being a Christian (or a “real” Christian) is no more a disqualification either. Voting for a candidate does not constitute a whole-sale endorsement of everything they do or believe. If all the candidates were Hindus or Atheists, would you simply not vote or would you base your decision on whoever was best suited (had the most correct views, held the most right values, was most competent, most intelligent, etc.) for the office of the presidency? You could, of course, refuse to exercise your right to choose, but I can see no reason to think that refusal is required of us by our faith.

      • jdwooddell says:

        (Reply to loulove and No Fool):

        Romans 13 says the purpose of government is to punish evil and promote the good. Ideally, and all else being equal, believers should be better at this than unbelievers. That said, the governor or lawmaker might not be a believer, but still might adhere strongly to natural law (cf. Rom. 1 & 2). My aim as a voter is to figure out which candidate agrees more fully with the things I outline in the post, regardless of his religion. In fact, one candidate might profess to share my own religious views more fully, but based on his other ideological views I might still vote for his opponent, who might not share my own religious views. Again, I want the person who seems most fully to agree with my own personal policy preferences and overall worldview (with respect to governing). I don’t think either 2012 presidential candidate shares my view of Scripture, the nature of God, the nature of Christ, salvation, or much else religiously. What I’m concerned about in this election is choosing the one who more closely matches the five items (and others besides) I mentioned in the post. So in this sense I think No Fool is (at least partially) correct.

  3. Pat says:

    Curtis: I don’t understand how the Apostle John came into the discussion? I heard Romney say that he believed in God and Jesus Christ as his Saviour on national TV. I’ve also heard him say that he only believes in abortion in the case of rape or incest AND he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. I hope you read the earlier blog, Obamadoxy, where Obama gives his viewpoint on Christianity. If he has read the Bible, it appears that he rejects the teachings of Jesus by his advocacy of gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose abortion for any reason. He did not always stand on the side of all those issues when he ran for President 4 years ago. Go back and listen to some of his earlier speeches on You Tube to verify this. I think you are saying that we won’t know what someone really believes until they are put to the test…and Obama is proof of that. Another four years of his politics and you and I may not even be free to write on this blog. I think I’ll take my chances with Governor Romney.

  4. A Owens says:

    This time around the world views of each party and their candidates must be looked at and determined how their individual actions will form the future of our United States and how our country will fare in the world. I for one wish for a strong country that makes a positive significance in the world. As the spiritual man becomes strong by laying aside the incumbrances of self and sin, so the United States should stop the things that pull us down and prevent us from being strong. Social programs and pork barrel spending in the hands of leaders that are not looking to the good of the nation are bound to pull us down. We need an individual as President with the resolve for a stronger nation. The strength we need must first come from the leaders practice of reverence for Jehovah God in individual and corporate life. This will give the country an example to follow as Moses and King David were in times of building nations. Besides this, our country would then experience the supernatural favor of God by seeing things happen that man cannot explain..

    • jdwooddell says:

      Thank you for commenting. Certainly all else being equal it would, in my opinion, be better to have someone in office who actually believes in and honors God. That’s one issue. Another is what you call experiencing “supernatural favor.” I would just say God has set up natural laws, and when individuals or nations obey them, they (the individuals or nations) fare much better than they otherwise would. Finally, I would just say none of this implies the desire for a theocracy, endorsement of dominion theology, theonomism, the U.S. as the new Israel, or any other such thing this side of Christ’s return.

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