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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

For Whom Would Jesus Vote?

This November, Americans will choose their next President. Here, there is both good news and bad news. If the Mayan Calendar is correct, then the election will become a moot point. That is the good news. The bad news is rather obvious.

Whom should one vote for? We can answer that question with the question, "How would Jesus vote?" Would Jesus vote for the "pro-life" Republican, Mitt Romney? Many of my Conservative Christian friends think yes. At least, that is how they will vote. Why? Because they have pride in the Conservative brand and values and Romney is the standard-bearer this time around.

What are Romney's values? While at Bain,he sacrificed many a job on the altar of the bottom line and he has stashed his personal winnings in offshore accounts to protect his treasure from taxes. And he does this with pride and the proclamation that this is what any American would do. In addition, Romney wants to make America a place where those in business have little to no social responsibility.

Thankfully, there is more to Romney than just money, there is power too. Romney is promising to make and keep America the most powerful nation in the world! Imagine what would happen if all of the candidates from every country pledged to do the same. Also imagine how this is different from what Obama is already doing. Not only does America already have the most powerful military, it continues to spend more on defense than most of the other nations combined.

What is it that Romney sees that Obama doesn't? The answer is simple; it is election appeal. Such a promise not only reassures the nervous nellies who are already vigilant over the fall of America, it strokes the ego of every true patriot and lines the pockets of defense contractors as well. It is the stroking of the ego that Romney will rely on the most to win votes in November while it is the potential business prospects that will win campaign contributions.

So what are Romney's values? They can be expressed by channeling the future. In the twenty-third century, it was said that "the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many." Romney's values are about how a special individual can build and keep one's own empire without being shackled down by moral responsibilities especially to those in need. We should note that this can happen at both the personal level as well as the national one.

With this being said, we must ask if Mitt Romney is a political candidate whom Jesus would like on Facebook. Of course the answer is speculative; Jesus is neither here in person nor directly connected to the internet. So though the answer is speculative, we could at least make an educated guess by reviewing his words and life as recorded in the four Gospels.  So when we consider the life of Jesus as he was born, lived, died, and rose from the dead, is it a life that Romney has tried to imitate? Has Romney hung out and identified with the invisible of society? Has Romney lived a part of his life of service to those who could not pay him back? Has Romney demonstrated that he was more interested in justice than in profit?

And how does Romney's words and deeds match with Jesus' teachings? For example, in Luke 12:15-21, Jesus tells the parable of a rich man who decided to build bigger barns to hold his riches because he said to himself that he might as well enjoy life to the fullest now because he could die the next day. And God confirmed that very point by taking his life and judging him. Now compare Romney's use of offshore tax havens with the actions of the rich man in this parable.

Now, what about Obama? Unlike Romney, he never sent a job overseas while working in the corporate world. And he is more patriotically responsible as seen in his lack of use of offshore tax havens. In addition, Obama doesn't come of as a corporate world's version of Pinnochio as Romney does. Would Jesus vote for him?

Let's first consider Obama's domestic policies. What is prominent here are the bailouts and his healthcare plan. But what we should not let fly under the radar is his treatment of whistleblowers. So far, six whistleblowers have been charged under the WWI Espionage Act (read here). Their offenses include criticism of policies and the release of videos showing war crimes, which was Bradley Manning's sin. Perhaps, the too big of a smile to hunger after power President should read Matthew 5:10 to know he is not on the right side of a blessing. For there, Jesus pronounces a blessing on those who are "persecuted" for doing what is right. Imagine Jesus' pronouncement for those doing the persecuting.

When we consider Obama's bailout and healthcare policies, one only needs to go back and read the list of those who made contributions to Obama's 2008 campaign.  Obama's bailout policies did little, in terms of regulations and prosecutions, to prevent the need for future bailouts. Likewise, the main beneficiaries of his healthcare plan are the insurance companies. This is because Obama's mandate did nothing more than  force people to become customers of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world. Realistically speaking, we can't afford Obamacare. This can easily cause a backlash that will reverse the number of those who were able to get coverage.  Policies that are designed to help those who helped Obama cannot be considered biblical under Luke 6:32-34.

Also, what would Jesus think of any human ruler who put him or herself above all accountability? This is what Obama has done with certain parts of the NDAA 2012 which allow Obama to order the detainment of Americans without review. The same goes for Obama's privilege to order the killing of any person in the world with impunity.

Some will object to these criticisms of Obama's domestic because of what he is bringing to the table such as the elimination of pre-existing conditions when obtaining insurance. Obama also wants the rich to pay higher tax rates. But such are the differences between the Republicans including Romney and the Democrats including Obama. The former offers a no frills trip on the road to destruction while the latter offers to make the same journey more comfortable.

We also want to note Obama's war record. Yes, he withdrew troops from Iraq, but the contractors remain. And there was no apology for an invasion itself which clearly violated the Nuremberg Principles--the laws used to condemn the Nazis for their atrocities in Europe. Here we might note Jesus' admonition against judging others (Matthew 7:1-5) In addition, Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan by using drones, which not only destabilizes a country with a significant radical element, their use is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians in both countries. These attacks kill the children of some while making others into orphans. In Libya, America teamed up with one monster, Al-Qaeda, to brutally overthrow another one. And while we rightfully protest the brutality in Syria, we remain silent about the atrocities in Bahrain whose facilities our military enjoys. And even when we defend the rebels in Syria, it is not done honestly. We are all too silent on the dictatorships that sponsor the Syrian rebels because such would put into question as to whether we are supporting a fight for freedom or a roster change in a totalitarian government.

Here, we should note what the Revelation to John says in 18:2-3 where all of the king of the earth as well as the merchants are condemned together have benefitted from her. We should note that some interpret John as referring to those in his time period. At the same time, how can we deny the rampant corruption practiced by government and/or business throughout the world, including in America.

For whom would Jesus vote? Could He vote for either candidate? And if not, how about us? Should we vote for either candidate? We should first consider what determines how we vote. It is controlled by the past and group loyalty. The past tells us that since America uses a two party system, we must only vote for Republican or Democratic candidates while group loyalty narrows our choice. All of this is regardless of the fact that, election after election, the incumbent party is voted out because it forever fails to clean up the mess caused by the other party.

Maybe I am being presumptuous but I cannot fathom how Jesus could ever vote for either Romney or Obama. Perhaps, there isn't a third party candidate for whom Jesus would have us vote either. But at least we should acknowledge the difficulties of voting for either Romney or Obama while remaining true to our Christian convictions.

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