Why I’m Probably Not Voting This Year

As election day approaches this year, the prospect of voting looks different to me than it has in the past. Whether I look to the left or to the right, my thoughts echo the prophet Jeremiah: “…Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?” (Jer 12:1).

Hopefully the situation improves by 2024.

Some may wonder what principles would normally make a Christian feel obligated to vote. They include these:

  • Those in government have duties assigned to them by God (1 Pet 2:14, Rom 13:1-5).
  • In nations with rule of law and elected lawmakers, we’re all in the government in at least two ways: the power to choose lawmakers by voting, the power to seek justice through the courts.
  • Love of neighbor means acting in ways that make for a better society for them, and this applies even more to family and church (Gal 6:10).

These are solid and compelling principles, and some of the reasons I’ve heard for not voting don’t hold up either.

Wrong reasons to skip voting

(1) This world is not our home. Our citizenship is indeed in Heaven (Phil 3:20). It doesn’t follow that the condition of the world we live in now doesn’t matter or that we have no duties to our fellow humans. The fact that we will live forever somewhere makes what we do here matter more, not less. “Just a passin’ through” doesn’t seem like the right way to view our stewardship (Matt 25:14-27, 1 Cor 4:2).

Regardless, we’re called to seek the good of our neighbors—and our enemies, too (Luke 6:27-28).

(2) God is sovereign. God will do whatever He pleases. All His plans and goals will be accomplished. Scripture is clear on this—Isaiah 46:10, for example. It’s a mistake, though, to think that, therefore, we have no obligation to fix anything ourselves or that we’re not responsible for our choices. The things we do or fail to do are part of the fabric of secondary causes that ultimately achieve God’s plans—and we’re responsible. That’s why there’s a judgment (1 Pet 1:17). God’s sovereignty is never a reason for inaction (though His instructions certainly can be: Exod 14:13, 1 Sam 12:16).

(3) Only the gospel matters. Is “politics” just a huge distraction from spreading the gospel? It certainly is a distraction for many—but so are sports and other entertainments, hobbies, work, parenting, and some of what we call ministry.

When is an activity “a distraction”? Multiple factors determine the answer. Maybe the person doing the activity isn’t doing it out of a heart and mind that is gospel-rooted and gospel-suffused. Maybe the person doing the activity has special gospel-serving duties he’s neglecting. But maybe the activity is more gospel-related than it seems.

The gospel is the good news that God intends to fix our sin-ruined world, starting with sin-ruined humans who put their trust in Jesus Christ, recognizing Him as Lord. When these believers engage in good, or creative, or helpful work in a way that seeks the glory of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, they aren’t competing with the gospel. They’re living it.

Why not, then?

Given all of that, why not vote this time around?

  • While the social/political left continues to do the usual and nominate candidates I can’t support, the right is nominating its own breed of unfit candidates. Our major parties seem determined to out-dolt, out-kook, and out-hothead each other.
  • I can’t seem to get good information. The conservative candidates don’t talk about their own party. On the topic of the GOP, they’re either not talking about its sad state or they’re personifying it. I can’t tell who the sober-minded grown-ups are.
  • We’re going to keep getting bad candidates if we keep voting for whatever bozo is on the ballot, just to try to beat the other party’s bozo.
  • Our form of government can’t thrive with untrustworthy people in power—and I can’t see any way to vote that would help put trustworthy people in power.

The bottom line: this time around, voting seems—more than usual—like an exercise in futility.

You’re too idealistic

Yeah, I know… Politics is the art of the possible. Quit being so idealistic. Our duty as voters is to help elect whoever will (probably) do the least damage or whoever will prevent someone worse from gaining power.

My defense of “idealism” is essentially the same as it’s been since 2016. I don’t have a new one, but I can summarize it a different way.

First, three points I’ll gladly concede. I’ve never doubted or questioned that …

  1. outcomes matter;
  2. elected leaders don’t have to be paragons of virtue to earn a vote;
  3. a vote for a leader is not an endorsement of everything he is, says, or does.

Absolutely! Still, other truths remain:

  1. More than outcomes matter: some things are wrong regardless of better results.
  2. Even if “greatest good for the greatest number” was a Christian approach to ethics (it’s not), we often don’t know what will accomplish that goal.
  3. Scripture is far from silent about what sort of people are fit for leadership and what tends to happen when the unfit gain power.
  4. Though a vote is not an endorsement of all a candidate is, says, or does, it is an act that directly helps the candidate rise to power.
  5. Increasingly, the worst pundits, candidates, and officeholders on the right are the most vocally “Christian.” How much damage to Christian testimony should we do in order to achieve social and political good?
  6. What’s less painful in the short run is often more painful in the long run, and what’s more painful in the short run is often most beneficial in the long run.
  7. Political parties hate losing. Losing enough elections may eventually alter the perception of what sort of nominees will win.
  8. Indirect outcomes of our actions (or inactions) aren’t ethically the same as results we cause directly. (Example: withholding “heroic measures” and letting a terminal patient die isn’t the same as killing that patient.)

When I add it all up, it seems I might as well just sit back and watch this one―but also pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim 2:2).

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There are 54 Comments

G. N. Barkman's picture

The voting purest vs. the "lesser of two evils" philosophy.  Does it matter which party controls the House and Senate?  I think it matters a great deal.  I wish all Republicans were godly and sane.  Unfortunately, some are neither, but it still makes a big difference who controls the reins of government.  If the Republicans take control, the torrents of evil from the LBGT agenda, CRT agenda, etc., will be reduced.  That's not the spiritual revival needed to rescue America from self-destruction, but it's helpful to see the rate of destruction slowed down.

G. N. Barkman

Mark_Smith's picture

and I am thinking the same way this year. In my state the state office ads are simply "the other guy is terrible, vote for me." Worse, races that have nothing to do with national issues (attorney general, sec of state, state legislature) focus on national issues (border, Biden, AOC, etc...) What does who sits in the 57th district of the house on this state have to do with Joe Biden, or AOC? Nothing.

Many candidates are wholly unqualified, and refuse to tell you why they are qualified.

I'm tired of the "I'm a business man, vote for me, I'll balance the budget" trope.... as if only business men "balance budgets".

In my state the Republican party is full of wing-nuts... and that's putting it nicely.

Mark_Smith's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

The voting purest vs. the "lesser of two evils" philosophy.  Does it matter which party controls the House and Senate?  I think it matters a great deal.  I wish all Republicans were godly and sane.  Unfortunately, some are neither, but it still makes a big difference who controls the reins of government.  If the Republicans take control, the torrents of evil from the LBGT agenda, CRT agenda, etc., will be reduced.  That's not the spiritual revival needed to rescue America from self-destruction, but it's helpful to see the rate of destruction slowed down.

I agree with you partly, but all the R's talk about is mask mandates, govt control, and how kids learned less in the pandemic... really? My kids did great! I loved the mask mandate. Kept me healthy.

When they aren't complaining about the masks they complain about the border...

And when they aren't complaining about that they talk about inflation... as if only Biden caused it. With the slowdown of the pandemic inflation was INEVITABLE!!! We all know that.

In my state the guy running for governor as an R sued the feds to stop the student loan forgiveness program that I support.... I called him about it too. Interesting conversation. Why should I vote for him?

G. N. Barkman's picture

He's as bad a candidate as I ever hope to see.  But wouldn't it be better for Herschel to win if that race turns out to determine who controls the Senate?  We need to consider the bigger picture.

G. N. Barkman

AndyE's picture

Darrell McCarthy wrote:

Couldn't vote for him OR the Dem

(I don't live in GA so moot point)

He is certainly not the strongest candidate, and his history with abortion is troubling (if true), but I voted for him.  As bad as he is, the alternative is so worse it is not even close!  One of those guys will get elected to the senate, so might as well get the one who will possibly tip control of the senate to the Red.

Don Johnson's picture

Was the 1981 game where his two fumbles led to a Clemson victory. I think I was at that game. How sweet it was! (Clemson would win the National Championship that year... perhaps by dubious methods!!)

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

Count me firmly in the camp of seeing voting as an engineering problem where one aims to get the best likely option, vs. a math problem where one must get things exactly correctly. 

I do emphasize with those who see their candidates as a bit nuts, though, and one thing that allows me to cut through the nonsense is to largely ignore TV and radio ads.  If you go to what's in print, that helps a LOT, and especially valuable is simply looking at the platforms the candidates share.  It's not the only thing that matters, but as a rule, the candidate's stand on abortion and the 2nd Amendment is an excellent guide to what else they believe.

Regarding candidates like Trump and Walker, I struggle with that, but in a lot of cases, the nutty Republican is faced by an equally objectionable Democrat.  For Trump vs. Clinton, the question was "what if Trump got rich with the help of the Mob?" vs. "what if every nation that opposes us has what was on Hilliary's server?"  

That noted, if somehow the GOP could get some decent discipline in terms of messaging, aiming to do what is possible than the dreams of their most fervent people on the far right, my thought is that the Republicans would make it very hard for Democrats to win elections.  Putting some basic background checks and asking candidates "what things about your life would be really embarrassing if they came out in the press?" would help, too.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Count me firmly in the camp of seeing voting as an engineering problem where one aims to get the best likely option, vs. a math problem where one must get things exactly correctly. 

It's not either of those things.

Sympathies...

I know some states have it a good bit worse than I do, as far as quality conservative candidates goes. I really feel bad for Georgia. Arizona and Texas appear to be completely bonkers most days.

That noted, if somehow the GOP could get some decent discipline in terms of messaging, aiming to do what is possible than the dreams of their most fervent people on the far right, my thought is that the Republicans would make it very hard for Democrats to win elections.  Putting some basic background checks and asking candidates "what things about your life would be really embarrassing if they came out in the press?" would help, too.

Agree. This is part of what I mean by trying to out-stupid each other. This isn't rocket science or brain surgery. Vet candidates. Put resources behind people who aren't on the fringe. When it comes to winning nominations, I get that often the most extreme candidate is going to have the most motivated base. So there needs to be some strategizing, because it doesn't matter how big your margins are in a nomination fight if you're too extreme (or too lots of other things) for the actual election.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

josh p's picture

I take the election seriously by only voting for decent (not perfect) candidates. The race to the bottom will only halt if people stop voting for ridiculous candidates. 

Ken S's picture

I've been a lifelong Republican voter and remain a registered Republican. However, I will not be voting for any Republicans until the Republican party as a whole comes back to reality and removes the extreme, QAnon people from their midst. As long as the Republican party is happy to have people like Margorie Taylor Greene, Josh Hawley, and Lauren Boebert I'll either not vote, or vote for an acceptable Democrat.

In my state this year we have Doug Mastriano as the Republican candidate for governor. He's extremely far right, believes the 2020 election was stolen, and was at the Jan 6 insurrection. Hard pass for me.

For Senate we have Dr. Oz. He has no ties to Pennsylvania and just recently bought a house here so he could run in PA. Basically a carpetbagger and opportunist from NJ. I have no interest in having him represent PA.

AndyE's picture

Ken S wrote:
As long as the Republican party is happy to have people like Margorie Taylor Greene, Josh Hawley, and Lauren Boebert I'll either not vote, or vote for an acceptable Democrat.
I don't understand.  The Democratic party also has some pretty extreme people in it.  Why give a pass to the Democrat party and vote for an acceptable candidate from them, but not from the Republicans?

Quote:
For Senate we have Dr. Oz. He has no ties to Pennsylvania and just recently bought a house here so he could run in PA. Basically a carpetbagger and opportunist from NJ. I have no interest in having him represent PA.
  That's fine during the primary, but now the choice is between him and Fetterman.  I agree that the Republicans have offered some lousy candidates but even in their lousiness, isn't Oz better for the Republic than Fetterman?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

AndyE wrote:

I agree that the Republicans have offered some lousy candidates but even in their lousiness, isn't Oz better for the Republic than Fetterman?

Of course, the left knows this, which is why they spent massive amounts of money this year funding the most extreme right candidates they could, in hopes that people would somehow see the left as the "saner" choice.  Worse, it appears to be working.

It's no wonder that our Lord said this: "for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light."  And many of the children of light fail to recognize it or do anything about it.

Of course, next Wednesday (or whatever the end date ends up being), whoever gets in, gets in, and while I might be disappointed, I'll know that God appointed whom he would, and I'll get on with life.  In the mean time, I intend to go down swinging.

Dave Barnhart

Ken S's picture

AndyE wrote:

 

Ken S wrote:
As long as the Republican party is happy to have people like Margorie Taylor Greene, Josh Hawley, and Lauren Boebert I'll either not vote, or vote for an acceptable Democrat.

I don't understand.  The Democratic party also has some pretty extreme people in it.  Why give a pass to the Democrat party and vote for an acceptable candidate from them, but not from the Republicans?

 

 

Quote:
For Senate we have Dr. Oz. He has no ties to Pennsylvania and just recently bought a house here so he could run in PA. Basically a carpetbagger and opportunist from NJ. I have no interest in having him represent PA.

  That's fine during the primary, but now the choice is between him and Fetterman.  I agree that the Republicans have offered some lousy candidates but even in their lousiness, isn't Oz better for the Republic than Fetterman?

 

Andy, that is certainly a fair point and I would agree that there are plenty of extreme Democrats. I guess my answer would be that the Democrat party is not the one with which I affiliate and I'm not super interested in influencing it one way or the other. I am interested in influencing the Republican party as that is the party with which i affiliate.

I view voting Republican and handing them control of the Senate and other offices as a form of enabling them to maintain the status quo. If more moderate Republicans withhold their votes it may help the party to realize that the candidates they are currently putting forward are unsuitable. As it stands now, I don't think it's better for the Republic to have Republicans in control. I know others will disagree, but that's how I view it.

WallyMorris's picture

A major reason for a lack of "good candidates" is that good candidates don't want to run for political office. If you won't vote because of a lack of "good candidates", then run for office yourself.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

dcbii wrote:

 

AndyE wrote:

 

I agree that the Republicans have offered some lousy candidates but even in their lousiness, isn't Oz better for the Republic than Fetterman?

 

 

Of course, the left knows this, which is why they spent massive amounts of money this year funding the most extreme right candidates they could, in hopes that people would somehow see the left as the "saner" choice.  Worse, it appears to be working.

It's no wonder that our Lord said this: "for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light."  And many of the children of light fail to recognize it or do anything about it.

Of course, next Wednesday (or whatever the end date ends up being), whoever gets in, gets in, and while I might be disappointed, I'll know that God appointed whom he would, and I'll get on with life.  In the mean time, I intend to go down swinging.

This is one big reason I don't generally watch/listen to TV and radio ads.  They generate hype that is largely content free, so if you want to be a good elector in our republic, look elsewhere.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

This is one big reason I don't generally watch/listen to TV and radio ads.  They generate hype that is largely content free, so if you want to be a good elector in our republic, look elsewhere.

They can certainly be effective, though.  Remember "Weekend prison passes.  Dukakis on crime."?  Probably the most effective campaign ad I can remember.

I haven't had cable/TV (other than ad-free paid streaming) since 2013.  Getting rid of ads in my life has been huge, but there is probably no time in the year more than this one where I'm happy to not see any ads, so I miss the barrage of campaign ads.

Dave Barnhart

AndyE's picture

dcbii wrote:

I haven't had cable/TV (other than ad-free paid streaming) since 2013.  Getting rid of ads in my life has been huge, but there is probably no time in the year more than this one where I'm happy to not see any ads, so I miss the barrage of campaign ads.

I could not watch any TV at all and still get bombarded with political ads -- we've been getting around 5 pieces or more in the mail everyday for the past few weeks!

Dan Miller's picture

Defense here for Biden stealing money from taxpayers to pay off student loans. Dumb and unconstitutional. Never mind that Biden seems to believe that he got Student Loan Forgiveness passed in congress. I doubt Biden knows what year it is.

Why would you object to someone who questions the 2020 election? I am not confident that 2020 was above board. Too many cases thrown out on technical issues. I am not saying we need to invalidate it or anything. But we must have enough election process reform that we don't question it.

Aaron, maybe you're just being imprecise here: 

Put resources behind people who aren't on the fringe. When it comes to winning nominations, I get that often the most extreme candidate is going to have the most motivated base. So there needs to be some strategizing, because it doesn't matter how big your margins are in a nomination fight if you're too extreme (or too lots of other things) for the actual election.

But "fringe" and "extreme" really shouldn't matter. I hear sometimes, "Both parties have gotten so extreme!" I don't agree. The left has moved WAY left. (probably should be WAY WAY WAY)
The right has actually also moved left. Very little talk about being fiscal conservative and balancing the budget. No talk about ending Obamacare and government provided health care. Yes, the police should be defended, not defunded. But that's not new.

The fact that the left has gone insane means the "middle" way to the left. That doesn't make it right. 

Our deficits and entitlements mean we borrow huge amounts of money every year to give our society a standard of living that we are not earning. We cannot do this forever. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

AndyE wrote:

I could not watch any TV at all and still get bombarded with political ads -- we've been getting around 5 pieces or more in the mail everyday for the past few weeks!

Technically, I do get paper ads in the mail, though because we have gang mail boxes in our neighborhood (and not one per house), I only check the mail once per week.  Most weeks I get less than 5 pieces of political ad mail, and they get immediately thrown out, though I did get one "Voter's Guide" that was shilling for all progressive candidates.  That one I quickly perused to be sure I was picking no one on that list, then it joined the others in the round file.

You must be on more mailing lists than I am!  Maybe the fact that I'm registered independent (actually "Unaffiliated" in my state) makes the difference, though I would think that would make me more attractive to candidates, since they would think my vote is possibly more "winnable."  Still, I'm happy I'm missing out!

Edit: Just picked up last night's mail for the week.  Only 2 political flyers, and only one was for a candidate.  The other was telling us about our local bond issues for this election.  Definitely happy to not get more than that...

Dave Barnhart

JSwaim's picture

I live in PA.  I will vote because there are some excellent local candidates whom I can readily support.  At the state-wide level I have an absolutely ridiculous choice for governor between a Democrat who supports every wrong thing that Democrats support. Or I can vote for the Republican who is a Trump lackey who denies that Trump did anything wrong in relation to Jan 6 (or that ANYBODY did anything wrong on Jan 6) and who believes that the election was stolen from Trump in 2020.  He also seems to wish that the south had won the Civil War.  For the US Senate I have the choice of John Fetterman who is an extremely radical liberal and who seems to be unable to function as a senator due to his stroke earlier this year. Or I can vote for Oz, a TV celebrity who was endorsed by Trump in the primaries and won the nomination due to the blind support of Trump-loyal Republican voters.  There were several exceptional candidates in the Republican primary but I'm left deciding whether or not to vote for OZ, a man who is NOT a conservative and who will be sure to disappoint.  

So, I'm gonna vote for the local people, I'm gonna skip on voting for governor and hope that a conservative legislature will keep the Democrat in check, and I'm gonna hold my nose and vote for Oz with complete confidence that I'll wish I hadn't.

T Howard's picture

As I posted in a different thread... Want better candidates? Stop voting for terrible candidates just because they are republicans. You're nothing more than a slave to the republican party.

If Trump announces his reelection bid on November 14th, and evangelicals support his candidacy, and he becomes the republican nominee, they are complicit to his crimes. Stop the madness. Break free from the plantation.

JNoël's picture

T Howard wrote:

If Trump announces his reelection bid on November 14th, and evangelicals support his candidacy, and he becomes the republican nominee, they are complicit to his crimes. Stop the madness. Break free from the plantation.

"Sharper Iron"

You just falsely accused. Donald Trump is not a criminal - at least, not yet. 

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

G. N. Barkman's picture

The Republican Party does not and cannot control who runs in the elections.  These candidates come through the Primaries as supported by citizens, not party officials.  Most Republican Party leaders also decry the nutcase candidates, but are not able to keep them out.  IOW, the Republican Party cannot give us better candidates.  That must be addressed at the local level.  You won't teach anyone a lesson by sitting out the election, or voting for a Democrat.  You can only influence candidate selection by active involvement at the local level.

Failing to support Republicans helps Democrats get elected.  Please explain how that is better?  With Democrats you get more LBGT evil pushed down our throats.  You get zero control of the borders.  You are assured of disastrous energy policies, high inflation, soaring deficits, liberals on the Supreme and other federal courts, continued racial discrimination in the name of diversity, higher crime because soft on law enforcement, etc. etc.  How is this better for our country?

Politics is almost always a choice between less than fully desirable candidates.  In many cases, my vote is not to support someone I think will do a good job.  It is to stop someone who will further policies that are destroying America.  For me, that's not a difficult choice to make.  Wise as serpent Christians look at the bigger picture.

G. N. Barkman

Dan Miller's picture

There is a lot more going on than simply "How do we want our country run?"

Hunter Biden (son of VP Biden) made millions sitting on a board he was unqualified for in Ukraine. A few years later, Joe Biden sees that Billions of dollars are sent to Ukraine to defend itself. Just think about that.

Our swamp is deep. And Trump's "crime" was threatening to drain it. 

--------

 

Dan Miller's picture

T Howard wrote:

As I posted in a different thread... Want better candidates? Stop voting for terrible candidates just because they are republicans. You're nothing more than a slave to the republican party.

If Trump announces his reelection bid on November 14th, and evangelicals support his candidacy, and he becomes the republican nominee, they are complicit to his crimes. Stop the madness. Break free from the plantation.

You think (and Aaron, apparently) that you will convince republicans to improve their candidate choices by... not voting. How will that work, in your mind? 

josh p's picture

I made many of the same arguments Aaron is making years ago. Some of those here who support that idea now criticized it then. People can apparently be convinced that candidates can be bad enough to not vote for. If Nancy Pelosi was the Republican nominee, she would not get my vote. It wouldn't matter who she was running against. Neither would get my vote. 
 

As far as inflation goes, Trump is also responsible. He employed the exact same Keynesian economic garbage that Biden is. I know, I know "yeah but the democrats do it more!" Trump did it more than any president in history including Obama but thankfully Biden is even worse so we have the moral high ground again! 

T Howard's picture

Dan Miller wrote:
You think (and Aaron, apparently) that you will convince republicans to improve their candidate choices by... not voting. How will that work, in your mind? 

If evangelical Christians refuse to support a QAnon conspiracy-theorist, election denying quack or a notorious scoundrel, then 1) those types of candidates would lose "bigly" and never become the nominee; 2) if those are the only types of candidate the republican party puts up and they become the nominee, then the republican party will lose the general election every time.

The republican party and its leaders don't care about evangelical Christians. They care about power. (Same with democrats and African Americans.) As long as evangelical Christians remain slaves on the republican plantation, the party leaders will continue to do what they do.

Break free from your shackles, brothers.

T Howard's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:
The Republican Party does not and cannot control who runs in the elections. 

Follow the money. If the republican party doesn't want someone to win a primary election, the money dries up pretty quickly.

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