Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What is your vote based on?

Americans are diverse and so are our reasons for voting a certain way. My grandfather, a UAW member, always voted straight Democrat no matter who was on the ticket. Many evangelical and Catholic friends vote strictly on the abortion issue and National Right to Life endorsements. I also know quite a few strong advocates of the Second Amendment who look for a candidate who supports gun ownership. I also know people who believe God has left the Republican party and is now blessing the Democrats, so as a "Jesus follower" that's where they've moved too.

Having said that, I struggled to understand exactly what pastor and emergent church leader, Brian McLaren bases his vote.

"All of us who choose to vote must base our vote on something...."

"I can't simply let the interests of the groups I am part of determine my vote, but I must have a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, and must even take the needs of my enemies into account.

That, by the way, means I can't simply vote on what's best for Christians, or Protestants, or evangelicals, or whatever. My Christian commitment obligates me to ask what's best for Muslims, Jews, atheists, Buddhists, and others. And my understanding of environmental stewardship obligates me to ask what's best for birds of the air, flowers of the field, and fish of the sea too. Since they don't have a vote, I need to try to speak on their behalf. And as a citizen of God's kingdom, which transcends all national boundaries, I can't simply vote based on what's best for U.S. citizens: My vote has to have in mind the good of Mexicans, Canadians, Iraqis, Iranians, Chinese, and Burundians as well.

In this way, my faith doesn't make my voting easier ... it calls me away from a broad and easy highway to the voting booth to a rough and challenging path. Harder, yes, but for me, better by far."

The idea that we should look not only to our own interests, but also the interests of others is a biblical precept. So, in part, I understand what McClaren is saying. I also accept the premise that the next President will have an impact on the entire world. Every President does. However, this is still our country's election. The leader we select has a solemn duty to uphold our Constitution and represent the people and interests of United States.

McLaren's desire to consider what is best for every living creature on the planet is noble, but defies logical reasoning. Voting is an exclusionary act. A vote for Barack Obama is obviously not what is best for John McCain. Placing a vote by defintion excludes the interests of some creatures in God's Kingdom or at the very least, makes their interests less important.

McLaren seems unwilling to prioritize and say which interests are more important to him than others. Do our borders and our Consitution require an elected leader to protect the interests of the citizen on our shores over the interests of the foreigner overseas? Should the birds of the air and flowers of the field be given a voice over the babies in the womb? Despite his poetic rhetoric, McClaren has not answered his own question, "Just what is his vote based on?" After all, even emergent post-modernist pastors have to base their vote on something.

What do you base your vote on?

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