This election is very difficult for many people. Many people don’t like either candidate from the two political parties. And there is all this buzz out there that supposedly a vote for ___ (a third party candidate, or not voting) is a vote for Trump while others say somehow the very same act is actually a vote for Hillary Clinton; because realistically a third party candidate will not win and you shouldn’t waste your vote.
But we have never had two more unpopular candidates running at the same time than we do this election. We’ve never expected our presidents to be perfect, but it seems (to many) like these two candidates don’t pass a simple human decency test.
So what should we do? More specifically, how should Christians vote?
The most repeated phrase this election we have heard is that we should vote for the person we think is the lesser of two evils; because few people really love either candidate.
I’m not dismissing this idea, as I truly do understand the dilemma. If you don’t like either candidate, why not vote for the one you think will cause less damage. And since no presidential candidate has ever been perfect, that’s what we do every four years anyway. Right?
So what do we do?
To me, I do not see the Christian response to be to choose the lesser of two evils. If your conscience is screaming at you that you really cannot vote for either of these two candidates, you shouldn’t do it. Plus it would be a sin to violate your conscience (Romans 14).
Here’s another reason why.
The Christian response should always be to do what is right. Not to do something out of fear that the opposite thing (in this case the opposing candidate winning), will lead to something we don’t like.
We are not called to do what is popular, or to do anything out of fear. Instead, we are called to do what is right, and trust God with what happens.
In 1 Peter 3:8-17, Peter is writing this very idea. He goes on to say,
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed…. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
-1 Peter 3:13-14, 17
Which means that yes, if you cannot stand either candidate but were forced to chose one, the one you would chose will lose if they don’t get enough votes. And the country will likely suffer from your perspective.
However, as a Christian, I’m never told that it’s my job to worry about the outcome. I’m told to be faithful, even when that means I’m worried about what could happen. When we let worry about could happen dictate what we are going to do instead of what we should do, then I’m afraid we don’t trust God as much as we think we do.
Which means we need to do what is right, period. Not what we think will cause the least amount inconvenience to us. And ironically, if we all actually did that, I don’t think we would have ended up with these two candidates to begin with.
So if you believe Donald Trump is the better option (even if you don’t like him), and can vote for him with a clear conscience, I think you should do it.
If you believe Hillary Clinton is the better option (even if you don’t like her), and can vote for her with a clear conscience, I think you should do it.
If you can’t do either of those, vote for or write someone in that you can. You aren’t wasting your vote, you’re faithfully doing what you believe is the right thing.
I can still remember being in elementary school and seeing posters on the wall that said things like “stand up for the right thing, even if that means you are the only one standing.” Yet, when we look around we don’t see that happening very often.
So Christian, prayerfully do what you believe is the right thing, not what everyone else is telling you is the “right” thing. That is what it means to be faithful in this election season.