15 October 2008


I've never been so frustrated and confused about whom to vote for.

God created society with four separate and distinct governing institutions, each with a separate and distinct sphere of authority: the state (civil government), the church, the family, and the self. If one of these institutions breaks down, it's not an option for the others to step in and take over its responsibilities; that leads to disaster. Instead, the other institutions must work to re-build that which has fallen, strengthening whichever one has broken down. Since the election is about the civil government, I'll focus there, but an understanding of this principle of jurisdictional sovereignty is key.

Civil government is responsible for (I may have forgotten a few, but this is the gist of what's been rolling around in my mind) …
  • protecting our rights - not granting them (which the government has no power or authority to do); this includes the rights to life, liberty, and property, freedom of speech, freedom to practice our religion - well, read the Bill of Rights for the full list; you get the idea. This doesn't mean protecting us from our own bad decisions.
  • defense - the military on a federal level, the police force and fire department on a local level
  • regulating commerce - not to make business decisions for us or to decide on productivity levels or where we should invest, but to protect us from one another where necessary (we are, after all, sinners); includes infrastructure
  • the judiciary - again, because we're sinners there will be crimes committed and there will be disagreements between people which need to be settled
  • relations with other nations - including treaties and immigration.
That civil government governs best which governs least. Our Constitution gives the federal government very limited powers; given that inch, they've flown to the moon. The federal level of government should have the least day-to-day influence on our lives as it is farthest from us and therefore farthest away from our influence. Instead it has the most. Can you name your mayor? What issues are before your city or town council this month? I don't know, either.

In addition to that, I'm a fiscal conservative who doesn't believe in debt (the only debt we have is our 16 year-old mortgage and we're working to pay that off as soon as we can) or consistently living beyond one's means. Tax dollars spent by the government actually belong to the people who paid the taxes (something most politicians and recipients of government largesse have conveniently forgotten or never knew). I also believe that the free market, while not perfect (nothing sinful man is responsible for can be), is the best economic system ever devised by man, giving the most liberty to the most people and raising productivity and standards of living. (Recommended reading: Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt and Basic Economics, by Thomas Sowell)

I'm a social conservative who believes that life begins at conception, marriage is an institution ordained and created by God, that parents are ultimately responsible for raising their children and do so with the support and encouragement of the local church and community, and that the family (as the main building-block of society) should be protected. I also believe that the family is primarily responsible for welfare by taking care of its own. If there's no family, or the family is unable, then the responsibility falls to the church or to private and voluntary endeavors. Private welfare requires contact with real people, real accountability, and real change; it doesn't sentence families to generations of poverty. We'll always have the poor with us, but membership in this group should be a temporary thing. (Recommended reading: The Tragedy of American Compassion, by Marvin Olasky and Bringing in the Sheaves, by George Grant)

So the question is, whom do I vote for? One of the major candidates is so far out of sync with the Constitution and biblical principle on all these issues that casting my vote for him just isn't an option. The other is one for whom I've never voted and whom I've deliberately gone to the polls late in the day to vote against (even though I knew Arizona would go for him). There are a few issues that separate these candidates, but they're simply different flavors of the same dish. Under both parties, government continues to grow, entitlements continue to mushroom, and our liberties continue to shrink. (Recommended reading: In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government, by Charles Murray)

Do I vote for the lesser of two evils? Or do I vote for a third party candidate who shares my views on most of the issues even though he probably has no chance of winning? Do I vote principle or pragmatism? And is it really pragmatic to vote for the lesser of two evils?

No answers today, I'm afraid. Just questions.

1 comment:

  1. John Chrysostom made a comment many centuries ago, about how, when a government mandates that rich people give to the poor, it corrupts both. The rich are deprived of the grace of giving, and the poor are deprived of gratitude - who is grateful for that which is not freely given.

    Voting is a privilege, and each of us will have to live with the result. Hard choices.