A Procedure for Ethical Political Decision-Making

The following is the body of an email I wrote to a good friend in response to his request that I explain my reasoning behind my political decisions, and in particular, the upcoming election. I thought it might be a helpful spring board for many of you who are trying to find your bearings amidst the emotionalized rhetoric typical of election season. As you read, keep in mind that there are almost always exceptions, and every summary necessarily oversimplifies and over-generalizes matters. I ask for your grace in this...
I will grant that many people of whatever political persuasion base their decisions on emotionalized media hype and the dictates of their favorite radio personality more than well-reasoned, well-informed judgment. I hope my reasoning does not come across that way. There are a few foundational principles on which I base my decision-making regarding politics:

1. Government exists to serve its people, not vice versa.

2. "We the people" have a divinely mandated, civic duty to be involved in government, out of love for "neighbor" (Rom. 13:1-7). In a democratic republic, this means both electing responsible, competent, and ethical officials to represent us as well as keeping ourselves educated enough about the issues to hold them accountable. And we must faithfully pray for our leaders.

3. Government only works as a supplement to an otherwise responsible and healthy society; it does not and cannot create that society. "We the people" have a responsibility to make the world a better place where we are, however we can. Put another way, government is only as healthy as the society in which it operates.

4. Government is ultimately founded upon morality, or human ethics. It's only purpose for existence is to curb man's sinfulness and keep us from destroying one another and the whole creation (Rom. 13:3-4). People who say "gov't should not legislate morality" don't know what they're talking about... that's fundamentally what gov't exists to do.

5. This morality includes the most basic human rights, beginning with the right to continue the life that God has begun. All other rights are secondary to (or further removed from) that right.

6. Sometimes we have to choose between two "evils", in which case we are forced to order them hierarchically, in order of significance, explicitness, and directness.

Now that's the basis for the decisions I, as a dual citizen of heaven and earth, must make. How do these help me arrive at my political decisions, particularly my choice of President? Let me comment in light of each of the above points.

1-3. The modern Democratic Party platform inherently views gov't as being served by the people, which is unacceptable. They are constantly trying to add more and more layers of gov't programming and bureaucracy in order to force society to function properly, but as I already established, only the opposite can happen (i.e. society reforming gov't). These programs and the people who run them cost big-time money, which they can only get from taxes. They do not trust the American people to reform society through their own ingenuity, effort, and resources. They see us as incompetent and unwilling, and so they want to take our money from us and do it for us, since we cannot and will not. But I believe they're wrong. It's politicians whom I do not trust to put my money to its best use. The mind-blowing amounts of wasted money that John McCain is constantly bringing to our attention is proof of this.

4. Democrats, by and large—particularly liberal ones—lobby relentlessly against the "legislation of morality". It's in the name "liberal" ("free"). Everyone ought to be free to do whatever they want—with their own bodies, for example. This is why, as a Party, they are "pro-choice" with regard to abortion. However, in reality, gov't puts many restrictions on what we are allowed to do with our bodies: we cannot use our hands to inflict harm on others; we cannot rape, murder, or steal; we cannot lie against our neighbors with our mouths; we cannot walk on to property that is not ours; we cannot spy on people with our eyes… all these things we do with our bodies, and all of them reflect some moral principle.

5. Because the right of humans to continue the life that begins in a womb is the most basic right, fundamental to any civilized society, it must be always at the top of our political priority list. Whenever life is being unjustly taken, nothing else is as important. Furthermore, the number of lives must be considered. Currently, millions of pre-born babies (1 in 5) are murdered every year legally in America. This is the gravest injustice in the history of this nation, or at least on par with slavery. And as the article pointed out, "Barack Obama is deeply committed to the belief that members of an entire class of human beings"—that is, the unborn—"have no rights that others must respect" (p. 7). Therefore, when deciding on my issues of priority for voting, abortion is at the top of the list. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for someone who believes that murder—not least of the most innocent and vulnerable of all human beings—is acceptable and defensible by law. I must vote for a "pro-life" candidate, first and foremost. If both candidates are pro-life, then other issues will weigh in more heavily.

6. Pro-choice advocates, and most Democrats, elevate other ethical priorities above that of human life, or if they claim to hold human life in high regard, they hold an improper priority. For example, pro-choice advocates argue that most pro-life people are supportive of capital punishment and have been uncritical of war in general, and the Iraq war in particular. They also argue that pro-life people should be pro-life after the baby is born, not just before. The second critique, if it properly assesses the actions of conservatives (I don't think it does) is legitimate. However, we cannot elevate quality of life issues over the protection of life itself. As to their first argument, again, the prevention of intentional taking of innocent life is what is mandated.

In summary, I am voting for John McCain because (a) he is pro-life and will not pass laws that threaten innocent life nor overturn laws that protect it; (b) I believe in smaller gov't and less spending, which means lower taxes; (c) I believe he is the most competent of the two in terms of global politics and military issues (the President, among other things, is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces).

I am voting against Barack Obama because (a) he is flagrantly pro-choice and promises to make the overturning of laws defending pre-born human beings a high priority; (b) he is a typical liberal Democrat who thinks adding gov't programs will fix America's problems, and thus necessarily favors higher taxes; and (c) he has not even remotely the global-political and military competence that McCain has.

Furthermore, I am voting for long-term goals, the foremost of which is the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Doing that will require a substantial majority of conservative Supreme Court justices. Currently, there are several liberal justices who are waiting for a liberal President to appoint liberal replacements for them, and electing even one liberal President will ensure a much longer and more costly battle in the war for the lives of the millions of children murdered every year in the U.S.

A few final thoughts… Many Christians are getting fired up these days about "social justice", and I am among them. Abortion is, without question, the #1 injustice in America, both in terms of the seriousness of the injustice and the number of victims of injustice. It is identical to genocide, except that it is developmental stage and not race which is being discriminated against.

Now in case you're thinking I have gone way overboard and overwhelmed you with information, this is just the tip of the iceberg of my thinking on these issues. I realize that most of the arguments made above require a longer defense, but am pretty sure you don't have the time or nerve to listen to them (nor do I have the time to write them!). I'm happy to discuss any of the specific issues I raised in further detail, at your request.

In Christ,

Matt

Popular Posts