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Friday, May 6, 2016

When Past Election Practices Come Home To Roost

David Gushee (click here for a bio) has recently written an article post on the Religion News Service website on how Christians are called to resist the election of Donald Trump (click here for the article). We should note here that Gushee is a self-proclaimed 'progressive evangelical.' He is well-known for many positive personal and professional traits. But he is also known for his change of mind when it came to the LGBT community and their relationship to the Church. He now believes that those from the LGBT community who profess belief in Christ can be considered as fellow believers in Christ (click here for the description and a review). 

How does Gushee call Christians to resist Trump's election? He starts by talking about the group of Christian leaders he has joined whose purpose is to inform the public about the words and deeds of Donald Trump so that Christians would oppose his candidacy. Fellow members in the group include Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, Lisa Sharon Harper, and Otis Moses III. He likens his group to the other groups of Christian leaders who resisted the Nazis during WW II and who resisted South Africa during the Apartheid years. But he makes a crucial distinction in doing that. While he says the movements are comparable, the objects of their protests are not.

He then goes over a small sample of statements, two of them to be precise, from the document his group has created that justifies their opposition to Trump. He goes on to say that his group compiled a list of statements made by and actions of Donald Trump that should compel Christians not only to not vote for Trump, but to act against his candidacy. 

The two quotes from his group's document on Trump describe him as a manipulative, hateful demagogue, those were the adjectives Gushee actually uses, who targets different groups for both bigotry and to be used as objects for venting the anger and frustration of voters whom Trump desires to court.

In short, I find it difficult to understand why any rational Christian would refuse to join Gushee's cause here. However, I also find it difficult to understand why this article would stir anyone to stand with Gushee and his group. Why? It is because while the title of Gushee's article would indicate that he has written a persuasive piece, the title is Christians Are 'Called To Resist' Trump, the article itself is nothing more than a short introductory account of his group's beginnings. His article cites a document by his group rather than any of Trump's quotes or a significant description of any specific actions by Trump that would compel people to fight against his candidacy. Though while there are plenty of Trump's actions and speeches to describe, Gushee talks more about his own group. In this way, Gushee's article is very disappointing.

There is another problem with Gushee's article here. He suggested no alternative for politically conservative Christians in terms of candidates to support. Politically conservative Christians certainly do not want to support or even cast a protest vote for Hillary Clinton. But Gushed does not even hint at the idea that politically conservative Christians can vote for conservative third party candidates. Gushee could have listed the parties and what they stand for. But he didn't. Again, his article focused more on his group than on the reason for the group. 

Of course, there is another possible explanation why Gushee did not bother to provide alternative candidates or political parties for whom politically conservative Christians could vote. That reason revolves around the title of this blogpost. The makings of the current dilemma for politically conservative Christians have been a long time coming. For generations now, the vast majority of politically conservative Christians, as well as nonChristian political conservative,  have, like many liberals, been locked into voting for candidates  from a particular political party. For political conservative Christians, their chosen party is the Republican Party. Democratic Party candidates, no matter how bad the Republican candidates were, could not sway many politically conservative Christians into voting for them. And because most politically conservative Christians did not want to "waste" their vote on non-electable third party candidates, most politically conservative Christians simply held their nose while voting for whomever the Republican Party nominated. 

The problem now is that the stench of the Trump's campaign is too strong for many politically conservative Christians to tolerate. So now many feel they have no choice because Hillary is not a viable option and thus there is no electable candidate left to vote for. And the reason why there is no electable candidate left to vote for is because politically conservative Christians have too often voted for the lesser of two evils rather than vote for a nonviable third party candidate. And by not supporting third party candidates, these candidates are stuck in the same kind of dilemma many graduates who have no work history experience, they have not been given a chance to become viable in the future because the voters decided that there was nothing to gain  in voting for nonviable third party candidates. This was short-sighted because candidates from third parties can only become viable over a period of time when voters consistently, and in significant numbers, vote for third party candidates. Unfortunately, in their greatest time of crisis, because of their determination to vote for Republican candidates, no viable third party candidates emerged.

Viable political parties do not spring up overnight. For the most part, their growth is incremental. But since politically conservative Christians did not vote often enough for conservative third party candidates, unless a miracle happens at one or both of the two major political conventions, politically conservative Christians will find no viable presidential candidate to vote for this year. BTW, two conservative third parties to consider are the Libertarian Party (click here) and the Constitutional Party (click here). Of course as a Leftist, I will be not be voting for any candidate from these parties.





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