You may have noticed I’m not a huge fan of either of the major-party presidential candidates this year. It’s always tempting to shout “Worst ever!” but a strong case could be made that this year’s election really does feature the most toxic combination of options in American history. And you should care about that whether or you are naturally “political,” because the presidency influences the country in a thousand ways, from the policies that are made to the example that is set.
That’s why I created a petition on Saturday in a last-ditch effort to give American voters an option other than Trump v. Clinton. I’ll tell you more about that in a moment, because I really hope you will go sign it and share it with your friends. But first, I want to share why I am not worried about the fate of that petition, nor about the outcome of the presidential election. There is a broader principle here that is helpful when dealing with the setbacks that come with being “in the world, but not of it.”
The basic principle is this: Even the smallest battle is worth fighting, but not even the greatest defeat is cause for despair. Think of it like a gardener who lives next to the world’s best farmer’s market. He’s going to get up early, stay up late, work hard for his garden, because it is his garden and he loves it. But even if everything goes wrong, he knows everything he needs or wants is right next door.
Of course it’s not a perfect analogy, because God is not a distant farmer storing up what we need in heaven, but a nearby father, watching and delighting in, and even helping, our efforts for his kingdom. And even if our “garden” fails completely this season, we know that we are sowing a heavenly harvest. So we have every reason to work hard, but no excuse for despair, whatever the world throws our way.
God is in control of this election and will be sovereign over whoever is elected. If he could accomplish his purposes through Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus of Persia, he can accomplish them through Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Once there is nothing else you can do (and we are nearing that point), well, don’t do anything else—and don’t worry, either. There is too much good, important work to be done elsewhere in the garden to worry about one spot of blight.
Personally, I’ve been getting ready to shift my focus elsewhere. The primaries are over, what’s done is done, que sera, sera, etc. etc. But… I can’t escape the feeling that this election, with its ridiculous choice between two of the most unpopular people on the planet, is tottering, just waiting for the right shove to send it in a new direction. America may not be what she once was, but surely we can come up with someone who is more appealing than an ignorant conman with dictatorial instincts and a pathological liar with no discernible accomplishments other than super-powered cronyism?
So I want to take one more whack at this thing. The idea actually grew out of my Facebook post a few days ago about why we have a two-party system. The long and short of it is that we have a two-party system because everyone assumes the major-party candidates are the only ones with a chance, and no one wants to throw away their vote, so the assumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what if there was a way for voters who want a third option to gather, organize, and even pick a candidate, bypassing our hidebound, corrupt party establishments altogether? Surely, if there was ever an election in which voters would seriously consider a third option, this is it!
That’s why I created an online petition: NeverTrump. NeverClinton. I Want a Third Option. I know “I created an online petition” usually ranks right up there with “Let’s organize a hashtag campaign” in ways to not get anything done, but here’s the idea: If those who want a third option sign and share it, there’s a real chance it can go viral. That means more signatures, more buzz, and at least a possibility that we could coalesce around a new candidate and wage a write-in campaign. (I explain the plan in more detail in the petition.) Long odds? You bet. But if you do want another option, what’s there to lose from signing and sharing it?
For me, looking for another option is a no-brainer because I’ve already concluded that I cannot vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in good conscience. No matter how much I oppose Trump, I simply can’t vote for Clinton. She is, of course, a shameless liar, and she stands politically for almost everything I oppose. I will never vote for someone who opposes religious liberty and 2nd Amendment rights while supporting abortion, socialized medicine, and massive regulation (to pick just a few). Worse, she could make Supreme Court appointments which would be disastrous for decades to come. And even if we put all that aside, the fact that the director of the FBI just implicitly admitted that she committed national security felonies but he couldn’t charge her because of her political connections should be enough to disqualify her from office forever.
My #NeverTrump commitment is a bit shakier, largely because of what an appalling candidate Clinton is. If anything could make me vote for Trump, it’s Clinton. However, as I wrote a couple weeks ago, even the (dubious) prospect of conservative Supreme Court appointments cannot overcome my conscientious objection to voting for a man who is the opposite of a conservative, who knowingly appeals to his audience’s worst instincts, who is far more interested in power than in the law, who has a child’s self-control and grasp of policy, and who may be the only person in America who can out-lie and out-sleaze Hillary Clinton. And in terms of long-term damage, it’s hard to pick between Hillary’s Supreme Court nominees and Trump’s ongoing demolition of small-government conservativism and the party which stands (stood?) for it.
For years, our political parties have urged voters to vote for the lesser of two evils. “If you don’t vote for our guy, their guy will win!” And there is something to that argument. Politics isn’t courtship. You don’t need to find the perfect match. But a presidential election still carries the moral responsibility of picking someone to lead our country. If none of the candidates are remotely qualified to lead, then don’t pick one. Someone will end up in the Oval Office, but you will not bear the responsibility for helping put them there.
But if you’ve even considered the possibility of not voting for either presidential candidate, why not sign that petition and see if maybe, just maybe, we can shake out an option (c)?
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t despair. We have a big garden to tend and this is no time to let a little blight discourage us.