Considering Third Roads
What’s Wrong with These Guys?
Egyptians or Amorites? Who’s it Gonna Be?
You heard a debate the other day. It was between two guys likely to take the role of single individual holding the most official power in America. Seems like a big deal. It is, in a way, but when you look at the big picture, it ends up not being much of one at all. Still, a pretty big deal.
So many of you will likely think of picking choice A or B. I see why. I mean, this is how the game seems to work, right? People give you two choices and you pick one of them. And to be fair, in all likelihood, it will be one of these two fellas. That’s how the system tends to work. I will tell you now that I don’t intend on voting for either of these guys.
Is this picture entirely accurate? Not necessarily. You can tell these guys apart by their rhetoric, policies, and voting record. But one of the first things we must establish is that they are alike in many ways, particularly in many ways in which people tend to think one may be “better” than the other. It’s something you hear quite often: Lesser-evil-ism.
As Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic said, “some actions are so ruinous to human rights, so destructive of the Constitution, and so contrary to basic morals that they are disqualifying.” If anything, both these candidates support actions of this nature.
For starters, I am choosing not to vote for Barack Obama. My reasons do not include the words “Muslim”, “Birth Certificate”, “Built it” or “2016″. Instead, they are legitimate.
*Barack Obama is currently waging terrifying war, similar to the wars of his predecessor. Even more so, he is engaged in a war using computerized drones that has killed hundreds of innocent people, children included. Who needs a birth certificate authenticity debate when you have this? This is enough grounds to impeach a leader, or at least it should be. I am among those who are actually happy that Obama apologizes for wrongs America commits, for as a Christian I cannot be upset over such a thing. When I see fellow Christians promote not apologizing I am perplexed by their anti-humility campaigns. Because I am a Christian, I hold no exceptions to the rule that we must apologize for wrongs done by us or those who represent us or those we represent. We are not exempt because we think we’ve done a lot of good things too. But Obama’s apologies mean nothing if he does not turn this nation toward repentance from her warmongering. This he has not done. Romney has given no indication that his policy will be any different, and I find that completely unacceptable. Because of this, neither of these candidates is truly pro-life. To say that one of them is creates a lie.
*Obama has made it possible for any president to secretly order the slaughtering of an American citizen. I also see no indication that Romney will reverse this. It is borderline Cheneyist in its disgusting severity.
*Obama has put on the face of an appeaser to too many groups, not to reconcile America, but to divide it, isolating those who disagree with him and marginalizing them as mere obstructionists, not formidable opponents of his ideology that he must either engage in honest debate in or call out directly. He has not allowed leaders, including himself, take ownership of their decisions. His rhetoric is inspiring, but also deceitful.
So then, why not Romney? Well, despite being so much like Obama in that he favors using drones which kill children, there are some other reasons.
*Romney’s rhetoric speaks to me that he truly believes that half the country is nothing but a pile of leeches who pay no income tax. This was not a gaffe. This comes from a statement he made at a private dinner that he later did not apologize for, but instead stood by. His exact words were “There are 47 percent who are with [Obama] who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. These are people who pay no income tax.” Given that this was him speaking at a benefit dinner where each plate costed more than what my wife and I make in a year, you can see easily what kind of man he is. Not only are his statistics wrong, but he is willing to lie to get the rich to stuff him.
*And yet, Romney, who is famous for going back and forth on positions to suit his audience, also said these words:
“We’re gonna have higher benefits for low-income people, and lower benefits for high-income people.”
That’s redistribution, the same concept Obama said he believed in. So if you want to choose Romney over Obama for financial reasons, you must realize he is offering the same essential philosophy. Or is he? Actually, we don’t know what he’s offering because he won’t really tell us.
This just touches on the problems with these candidates, and I will revisit more as I look at alternatives in later posts. I now want to address the false notion of morality that has been perpetuated in some circles: That when we say “morality” we mean sexual morality, oh and also putting God’s name on things in schools. According to this false teaching, everything else is not about morality.
MORALITY AND “MORALITY”
Morality refers to the systems of guided conduct that we adhere to and expect from others, affecting all our decisions. So if you are among those Christians who believe that if we say God’s name more and clean up our sex lives, everything else will just fall into place. The other woes this nation faces are not brought on by magic: they have root causes in immoral decisions that are not explicitly covered by sexual concerns or concerns over many places God’s name is chiseled or spoken.
A budget is a document of moral signifigance; a policy towards others is of moral signifigance; an attitude toward helping others is of moral significance; a regard for one’s resources is of moral significance. Economy, diplomacy, resource management, immigration, war and creation care are all moral issues to Christians just as much as sexuality and speaking God’s name.
LESSER EVILS AND LEAST EVILS
For some reason or another, some have uttered the words “choose the lesser evil.” Let us examine this strange teaching, trace it to its seedy origins. I begin with a quote:
“Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in after it.” -Baltasar Gracian
I find no Biblical precedent for lesser-evil-ism as a moral enterprise, so I’m assuming people who choose such an ethic are drawing from philosophy.
You may say: “in a tight situation, choose the lesser evil.”
We respond: “Are you assuming there are only two choices?”
“Well, I mean when there are two choices.”
“Because lesser implies only two. So if you had to choose between lesser-evil-ism and least-evil-ism, which would you choose?”
“Well, obviously the least. We want the least evil.”
“So then you must chose least-evil-ism. Therefore, lesser-evil-ism defeats itself. If you are sincere you must consider all options before you, even those which appear as non-options, to do what you can to fully minimize your endorsement of evil.”
Suppose you awoke up in a room with two buttons and no door and a voice says, “you have five minutes to press a button that kills person A or person B. Both are innocent. But here’s a brief bio of each of their lives and you have to press one of the buttons. If you don’t, I kill both of them.” So you could say to yourself, “well, Mr. Jigsaw, I’ll just pick the one who wasted their life more and kill them.”
Then Mr. Jigsaw says, “I win.”
Oh, you could have said you wouldn’t kill either, but then Mr. Jigsaw would kill both those people. So that means he wins, right? Wrong. He already made the nasty decision to set up that awful mechanism, and thus already made the decision to take those lives himself. He is trying to force his actions into your will. Should you comply, he wins and you lose. So don’t comply. He is responsible for those murders. You just woke up in a room with no way to save them. This is not your fault.
So when you choose not to endorse two evil choices, when you choose not to participate in a corrupt machine because doing so in any way would be an endorsement of an evil, you are doing what in your conscience is a refusal to cooperate with evil.
“But wait. Shouldn’t this decision be easier? I mean, you’re a Christian. So remember when the Democrats booed God? The Republicans are the party that doesn’t boo God. That oughta tell you something.”
Well, let’s look at these cases to see what they tell us:
To be fair, the minister pleaded for both God’s name being kept as well as Jerusalem being recognized as the capital of Israel. Therefore, we cannot say who was booing over what for certain. For example, toward the end of the video we see someone holding a sign, “Arab Americans for Democracy.” I can’t speak for them, but their expressed heritage tells me they do not like the idea of America claiming Israel as it’s de facto ally and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital. However, it is true that statistically there are more atheists in the Democratic party than in the Republican party.
But in contrast, is it fair to say that the Republican party never does/did boo God? We have another video:
In this one, the RNC says “boo” to the teachings of the sermon on the mount, thus saying “boo” to God. The Bible gives no exception to the “golden rule” for Christians. But Republicans rejected God on that day just as much as the Democrats rejected God during their SC convention. Beam, meet speck.
Listen: Every single person and group of people have said “boo” to God at some time or another. Secondly, if you’re going to point the finger at one person, you have to point it back at yourself. This examination does not qualify an easy way out of this lesser evil debacle.
So will it be the gods of the Egyptians or of the Amorites?
When you’re told to bow before King Nebu’s big gold statue, you might think just lacing your shoe is a lesser evil. After all, you still want the king on your side so you can influence him. If he throws you into the fire, it just won’t be effective for you politically. You’d have no chance. Hmm…
I have friends, many of them Christian friends, who are choosing to vote for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, and have given me their reasons. I am perplexed by these reasons, but I understand them and do not judge my friends or disown them. Still, I am perplexed. But if you are choosing one because you see him as the “lesser evil”, that’s not really saying much. It’s not really inspiring to me at all. It certainly doesn’t reflect well on your belief system. It’s like you’re giving in.
Is not voting giving up? No, because there is more to life than voting. In fact, the way the machine works voting actually matters very little. The illusion is that it is a great freedom. It is only a great freedom when it is not spoiled, and it is spoiled. I have no problem with those who have chosen not to engage in this process, at least for reasons other than pure apathy. Those who are conscientiously refusing to even enter a booth because they find it vain—I understand them.
I do plan on entering a booth, and though it may not be a surprise to you what I will choose, I will wait until next time to reveal it. Let us keep a civil tongue.
[Part 2: Still Riding the Ron Paul Revolution]