Just a couple of days to go for the 2016 presidential election. This is arguably the most divisive presidential election I personally have experienced. There have been lots of debates, arguments, and even name calling that I have witnessed, in person and on social media. Even within the Christian community in general, and Reformed community in particular, there are different viewpoints as to who is the better candidate (or the lesser of two evils) to vote for.
Despite Trump’s unconventional candidacy, some in the Reformed community are opting to vote for Trump, in an obvious disapproval against Hilary Clinton and the liberal policies she advocates for. Although these folks are not necessarily pleased about Trump’s personal character, they will vote for Trump thinking Trump’s presidency and policy agendas at least will be more in line with conservative values.
There are also some of Reformed Christian background who have made up their minds to vote for Hilary Clinton, citing various reasons, including issues related to immigration and refugees, deep disapproval of Trump’s misogynist rhetoric, and a longing to see a female president elected, among others.
There are still others, myself included, who have strong disapproval against both candidates, and are disappointed with the choices we have. We trust neither Hilary Clinton nor Donald Trump. I believe Hilary Clinton is a disaster for the future of the United States with her liberal policies. I also believe Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States, he is not a principled conservative, he’s a flip flopper at best, and have already openly advocated for positions that are not traditionally conservative.
It doesn’t matter which one of these two characters assumes the presidency, I expect more divisions and controversies would ensue. If Hilary Clinton becomes the president, it is almost certain that she would appoint a liberal justice to the Supreme Court (if it so happens that democrats also control the Senate after the election that would allow her to get her appointments passed), which could have legal and policy implications for many years to come that Christians do not wish to see. Some GOP conservatives have vowed to fight against Hilary Clinton starting from day one of her presidency. If Donald Trump becomes the president, there is no guarantee that he would adopt conservative policies, and his presidency would doubtlessly be so problematic that, it will undermine the abilities of the Republican Party to govern as an effective opposition party for many years to come. I also worry Trump’s populist appeal in some ways resembling Hilter and Mussolini, and the possibility of a constitutional crisis that comes with his presidency.
I thought through the pros and cons of voting for these two candidates, and I examined my conscience as a Christian and determined that I can’t vote for either of them, considering both as detrimental to this nation and their views as a whole not in line with my values. Therefore, I’m voting for an independent candidate Evan McMullin, who at least is a conservative, though his chance of winning the white house is slim, though not entirely impossible. This is my last-ditch fight, this is my decision, as I can’t violate my Christian conscience by voting for someone who I disagree with so much.
While I disagree with my friends who are voting for Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, I respect their decisions, so long as Christians they have thought through their decisions and their consciences are at peace with these decisions. In fact, in my conservation with a well-respected Reformed scholar who supports Trump, we agreed to disagree as to our respective choices for president, we even agreed that our differences would not tear us apart, but will pull us closer as Reformed Christians. After all, our respective voting decisions stem from the same set of motivations and theological and biblical commitments, but we arrived at different political decisions. Christ has broken down the wall of hostility between the Jews and the gentiles; let us not erect a wall of hostility based on a presidential choice in a liberal democracy.
I only urge my friends not to vote for a candidate based on just one single particular policy position, but should evaluate holistically policies that these two candidates are advocating for. For example, while Donald Trump had said that he’s pro-life which is important to many evangelicals (but who knows what he would say in a few days, weeks, and months), he at the same time, appears to be for so-called “LGBT rights,” particularly related to the issue of trans-gender bathrooms, a policy does not sit well with evangelicals. In terms of foreign policy, Donald Trump called for the dissolution of NATO, removing of US troops from Japan and Korea, and letting these two countries possess nuclear weapons. These foreign policy proposals have confused US allies in the Asia pacific, at a time when a nuclear North Korea is becoming more and more erratic by the day. A destabilized East Asia, and the possibility of a war in the Korean peninsula could result in civilian deaths in the tens of thousands, if not millions. We have seen the disastrous outcome of Obama’s inaction in foreign and military policies that had resulted in the rise of ISIS. I had criticized Obama for his policy, which in the end did create instability and sectarian violence and let terror group ISIS fill the vacuum, afflicting the lives of millions of civilians living in Iraq and Syria. Donald Trump’s military and foreign policies would cause further problems, as the US retreats and rogue regimes make aggressive moves militarily. A genuine pro-life person should care not only the lives of unborn children, but should take into consideration the lives of these innocent civilians. Donald Trump would be a disastrous commander-in-chief, whose foreign and military policy decision will impact us all.
Some in the Christian community, including those of the Reformed persuasion had resorted to nasty name calling in this emotionally charged election cycle, going so far as to insinuate that those who disagree with him/her, in not supporting Trump (or in supporting Trump), as unchristian, and therefore unacceptable to God. Some of these folks accuse others as such often based on one particular issue they care about the most, without taking into consideration other policy issues that should receive equal weight. Furthermore, our votes for a particular political candidate should not be a pre-requisite for God’s salvation. The saying that suggests that Christians must vote for a particular political candidate as a precondition for God’s acceptance and salvation has no place in Reformed soteriology, it is outright heresy.
In the end of day, as a Reformed Christian, I must trust God’s sovereignty in all of these. No matter what happens, we as Reformed Christians can take comfort in His sovereignty and trust that his will ultimately prevail.