The Alternative Political Conversation (APC) that officially concludes on October 31 was intended to model a “better way” of talking about important public policy issues than the current vitriolic political discourse that is characterized by name-calling, demonizing and the unyielding commitment to “fixed positions” that has made it virtually impossible to uncover the “common ground” needed to govern.
If I do say so myself, I believe we have accomplished this purpose to an admirable degree. As to the level of web activity, we had over 24,100 “Page Views” and slightly more than 8000 “Unique Visitors” during this nine month project. But more importantly, if you read through the postings of our six regular commentators on each of twelve important public policy issues, and the comments posted by interested readers, two qualitative conclusions clearly emerge.
Finally, we should vote in hope. Like many of my correspondents, I am not enthused about the options before voters in November. Over the long run, I’d love to consider how structural changes to our electoral system might provide better choices. Yet I know in politics what I also know to be true in the rest of life: that Christ is risen. A politics of the resurrection means that the long, slow work of pursuing justice is not a work in vain, and that even a choice between two less-than-sterling candidates is still a choice that has kingdom significance. Politics is messy, and American politics is particularly so, but the kingdom hope that is found in the resurrection can carry Christians through the messiness of campaigns, into the voting booth, and on into the rest of their political lives.
With the election only weeks away, I’ve been asked to offer advice for undecided Christian voters. As readers of the APC blog know, I am not an undecided voter. Nor am I an Independent. I have known I was going to vote for the Republican in 2012 since president-elect Obama stood astride the Big Silver Bean drinking in the adoration of thousands gathered in Chicago’s Millennium Park. I’m a conservative. It was clear at the time that Obama’s convictions on the most important issues did not line up with my own. It was inevitable that his political naiveté and delusional sense of self-importance would not work. But, for those who are not like me, we have four years of evidence to consider.
The United States has more elected officials than any other nation (about half a million of them!), so it is no wonder that voting can seem overwhelming. As I will discuss in this essay, however, many resources are available to help us learn about the candidates and make an informed decision. As Election Day draws near, I’d like to offer some advice on preparing to vote and share some concluding observations from my participation in the Alternative Political Conversation.
On November 6, each of us will be forced to make a "least bad" choice and move ahead afterwards, trying to be the best Christian citizens we can be. It is good to know that God is still sovereign, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, and that one day Christ will return.
I, of course, do not know who is going to win the election on November 6. But one thing I do know: No matter who wins I am going to be depressed. Neither candidate reflects what I see as an approach to today’s crucial public policy issues that is consistently in keeping with the principles we commentators in this series are agreed upon.
Please consider the following potential leading questions for the final APC conversation, to be launched on October 10 and concluded on October 31.
#1: Based on your participation in this Alternative Political Conversation, what words of advice do you have for readers as they prepare to vote on November 6?
#2: How have the positions taken by the presidential candidates fit, or not, with the five basic Christian principles on which we all agree and with the positions you have taken on the various public policy issues that have been discussed in this Alternative Political Conversation?
#3: What strategies would you recommend for “continuing this conversation” beyond Election Day?
The lawyer who prosecuted D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad, the judge who sentenced him to death, and the official who injected the lethal medication in his arm acted justly. Would we call their actions love?
...I too see charity to be a primary responsibility of the church. Indeed the church that fails in the task of mercy fails in a task that Jesus himself saw as central to the gospel. But charity is not the only way we demonstrate love for our neighbors. We also owe our neighbors justice. To love our neighbor is not only to extend him or her charity; it is also to see that justice is done for our neighbor. And conversations about justice will necessarily lead to conversations about the state, as the state is precisely the institution charged with the task of doing public justice...
As has been the case throughout our discussion in this forum, the opening essays have offered constructive food for thought. Much like the ongoing presidential race, the essays reflect divergent views on the proper role and size of government. In my response to the initial postings, I will first offer some thoughts on the role of government and then consider a few specific claims made by my conversation partners.