I voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election instead of voting for the ticket of McCain and Palin.
At the time, I did not understand the division and caustic nature of the upcoming 2012 election. My guess is that neither did you. The economic disaster that was 2007-2008 had not yet been thoroughly investigated and the nation had not seen the gridlock of partisan politics to the degree that the early 2010 deficit talks and subsequent supercommittee debacle produced. I was also particularly unprepared for the rather pointed, sometimes hateful, rhetoric that would flow from the more conservative ranks about the President of the United States. Let’s, though, move closer to home.
I have had relatives, Christian co-workers, and social conservatives question my faith, question whether I believe the Bible to be relevant, and question my intellect for the past few years. I have been told that I could not call myself a Christian and vote for Obama. I have been called a socialist, a liberal, and a host of other more colorful things, all by professing Christians. With another election coming up in 2012 and with President Obama again on the ticket, I am struck with this thought: now what happens if I vote for Obama again?
I have watched many of the Republican debates and the party itself is divided over many conservative issues, but united on its desire to blame Obama, label Obama, and distance themselves from Obama. To some, he’s a socialist, to others, he’s too friendly to Muslims. To some, he’s the reason for the economic decline, to others, he’s the reason we have higher than expected unemployment. For the Christian, though, can we embrace the fact that Obama too shares many Christian values that need promotion and preservation? These values include compassion for the poor and marginalized, hospitality for the immigrant, and promotion of public service and volunteerism.
With that said, Obama has been upsetting to Catholics, evangelicals, and a host of Christian groups for the same reason he’s been upsetting to his own party and to the left—people are simply unsure where he stands on some things. He has disappointed virtually every segment of the population at some point. But, is this really new to politics or the Presidency? Mitt Romney claims to be a lifelong businessman, but has been running for President for the entire 21st century. Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann were hopefuls at one time and now, even Rick Santorum can articulate some consistently Christian views, but they have proven to be poor politicians on the national stage and have great difficulty rallying support that isn’t ‘preaching to the proverbial choir,’. And we’re voting for a national leader, not simply an ideological champion, right?
Frankly, the Congress itself has the lowest approval rating in modern history and no one who votes regularly and follows the news shows signs of admiration for either group of senators or representatives. In fact, some of the incompetency is simply surprising and mind-boggling.
And perhaps, this is the true dilemma of the upcoming election. What can a President do with such an incompetent Congress? That’s a lengthy discussion for another day.
Let’s return to this simple question: Can a Christian vote for Barack Obama in 2012? Must a Christian voter only support a vocally pro-life ticket even if that ticket does nothing to reverse abortion on demand? Republicans have had majorities more than once since Roe v. Wade and have collectively done nothing to repeal the law, but when given the chance to weigh in on health care legislation every candidate promises to repeal ‘Obamacare’ on day one of their administration. Isn’t this inconsistent?
Let me put the question differently. Why is the party that supports the NRA, increased military spending, decreased economic regulation, and harsher immigration policy still the party most publicly associated with Christians? Have we reduced the Christian vote down to simply views on homosexual marriage and abortion only? Can we at least insert the Biblical command to ‘welcome the stranger,’ and the call to be peacemakers and peaceful people who ‘turn the other cheek’ in to the discussion?
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not a Democrat either. I am a person who has voted for leaders of both parties. I voted for George W. Bush to defeat Al Gore, but I have also attended a fundraiser for Bill Clinton’s Foundation in San Francisco (and that last part of the sentence really drove my evangelical friends whacky—you try throwing ‘support, Bill Clinton, and San Francisco’ in the same sentence at a dinner party with lifelong Republicans, who attend church, sometime and see what happens).
Maybe the answer lies somewhere deeper. After all, Christians are ‘citizens of heaven’ and are considered members of a Kingdom, that is ushering in a new way of doing life. Maybe both parties are wrong and the question isn’t whether a Christian can vote for Obama, but the question is more this one: can a Christian put grace above religion; peace above war; Kingdom of God over democracy of man?
Does Obama hold some views and practice some things that are upsetting to Biblically astute Christians? The answer is undoubtedly yes. Does Obama hold some views and practice some things that are obviously Christian and friendly to Biblically astute people? Again, the answer is yes.
So, can a Christian vote for Obama? I will answer a resounding—sure, maybe, it’s possible. Just be careful about how you articulate such a vote in the fellowship hall over coffee.
So, who will I vote for in 2012? I don’t know yet, there’s still some time yet to decide.