Recently, several big name Christian leaders have made a case that a vote for a third party/independent candidate is a waste of a Christian’s vote and will only serve to elect Hillary Clinton. Dire warnings and shaming accompany these appeals.
Here are several reasons I disagree and believe that voting for an independent or minor party candidate is a good option.*
- No one owns or is entitled to my vote and support. If the GOP and Democrat parties put up unqualified and unfit candidates, I am not obligated to support one of them. In this instance, for different reasons, I believe Clinton and Trump are equally unacceptable.
- There is no biblical mandate to support one party or another in a two party system. The two party system is not divinely inspired.
- Party loyalty was considered a problem by some of our key founding fathers. In his 1796 farewell address, Washington warned about party spirit. He said, “There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”
- A viable third or even fourth major party would be a benefit to the nation and allow representation for important viewpoints now stifled by the two-party system.
- At some point, an independent party must gain votes from citizens to gain viability. An independent movement will not grow unless citizens cast a ballot for independent candidates running for office. This election featuring two of the most unpopular candidates in history is a good opportunity for citizens to exercise their right to declare a pox on both houses.
- From the perspective of someone who doesn’t support either Clinton or Trump, now is the time to declare independence from the two-party stranglehold on what is possible.
- I don’t believe a sufficient case has been made by evangelical Trump supporters that Clinton will destroy the country. While I think the Republic will survive Trump, I think his weaknesses may actually be more dangerous to our safety than Clinton’s. Having said that, I believe both candidates bring unacceptable qualities to the table.
- My position has nothing to do with “moral preening” or “fig leaves” or some other self-righteous way to dismiss reasoning which results in support for an independent candidate.
From my point of view, voting third party/independent is the long run option. We must start somewhere and now seems like as good a time as any. In any case, no advocate for holding one’s nose and voting for Trump has been able to provide a biblical basis for staying with the status quo. That is because there isn’t such a basis. The Bible doesn’t address a republic such as ours and only endorses the selection of moral and upright people as rulers. If anything, the Bible promotes the selection of upright people for leadership. Other than independent candidates, there is no real option to exercise that value this year.
Some (e.g., Wayne Grudem, Eric Metaxas) have suggested that pragmatic voting is how we should proceed. They believe God (and in Metaxas’ case Bonhoeffer) would get behind Trump because the consequences will be better in a Trump administration. This position requires an omniscience which no human possesses. No one knows what the consequences of each selection will be and it is presumptuous to assert that one does know. Since these pragmatists don’t have a direct line to God, we cannot accept their warnings and guilt trips as inspired revelation.
If you think Donald Trump has made a good case for himself, vote for him. If you think Hillary Clinton has made a good case for herself, vote for her. However, if you believe neither candidate is acceptable, then find someone you support and vote for that person with thanksgiving that you have the right to do so.
*Full disclosure – I favor independent candidate Evan McMullin.