Why I’m Voting, Who I’m Voting For, and Why

We’re heading down the homestretch of this election. There are a lot of questions for American Christians. Should we vote? Who should we vote for? Should we place so much trust in a political party? We’ve seen both candidates endure months of grueling campaigning, be ridiculed about gaffes, and we’ve read enough tweets and Facebook posts to fill a book (a really lame book, at that).

I’d like to share with you where I’m at. I’m only one person and I’m not the first or last word on this subject. But I’d like to share just why I’m voting, who I’m voting for and why. I write this to hopefully help my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Why I’m Voting

There are some well-meaning Christians who, not liking any of the candidates, wonder about the efficacy of voting. Why settle for a “lesser of two evils” role when there is not anyone that matches your values. And so they abstain. Here is my thought: I believe voting is a stewardship that both honors the sacrifice of soldiers who died to gives us this freedom and allows believers to shape the culture to which they are called by God. It’s an imperfect system. We have flawed candidates. And we are flawed people. But the sinfulness of all of this is no excuse to not get involved. I’m convicted by the verse in 1 Corinthians 4:2. “It is required of stewards that he be found faithful.” At the end of the age, I will be asked by God, “What did you do with the opportunities and life I gave you?” I think this includes my vote as an American, a privilege few humans in history have ever enjoyed. And so I vote. Plus, voting is a small way of loving our neighbor.

Now, I vote knowing that nobody on the ballot will be my hero. I’ve given up on finding a Messiah-like figure as a national leader. And this is good, because all those hopes and dreams I may project on a President can only be fulfilled in Jesus. The longing for utopia, for the righting of the empty places in our society–this will only be consumated in Heaven. Until then, I’m tasked, as a faithful American citizen, with choosing between two sinful men (or perhaps a woman someday). When I look at it this way, my political disappointments are drastically minimized. And so I pick a President, knowing my guy may win or he may not win and either way, I’ll find some things about which to be disappointed in the man God appoints as President.

Who I’m Voting For and Why

Now to who I am voting for and why I’m voting for him. First, let me share what I believe are the areas of agreement and disagreement with President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney that are important to me.

President Obama – There is much to admire about our President. Though I didn’t cast a vote for him, I was proud and shed a tear or two on election night when I saw the first African-American man ascend to the Presidency. When you consider our long and shameful struggle with first slavery and civil rights, it was a profound achievement for our great country.

I also deeply admire him as a husband and father. Having grown up without a father, he takes his role seriously and has championed fatherhood in our culture. Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, you should read some of what he has said about this crisis in our country.

I also happen to agree with the President on immigration. I wish for a solution to the crisis of undocumented immigrants and I’d like to see a humane solution. I was in favor of his actions to enforce provisions of what is called The DREAM ACT to allow the young undocumented to go to college and find a path to citizenship.

I also like how the President (until the Bengazhi tragedy) has executed the War on Terror, bringing many terrorists to justice, including Osama Bin Laden.

Lastly, I like that the President sought a solution to the many millions who don’t have health care, though I disagreed with the final result of Obamacare (top-down, no cost-control, etc).

Now there are three main areas where I disagree with the President: 

I’m troubled by his commitment to the pro-choice position. To be clear, this is a position that says it’s okay for a mother to kill her baby in the womb. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the President has been the most radically pro-choice president we’ve ever had. As a state senator he refused to support a bill that simply provided safety for babies who survived an abortion. And I was deeply, deeply troubled in my soul when I watched the Democratic convention and thousands of people lustily cheering the right to kill innocent young children. I believe this violates Scripture. God alone is the author of life. To be sure, I don’t blame the President for the abortion culture, it existed before he took office and will exist after he leaves. However, as the leader of the nation, he has only encouraged abortion on demand. And his Health and Human Services department has infringed on the rights of religious employers, forcing them to provide abortion-like services against their convictions. This is wrong.

I’m also troubled by the President’s abandonment of traditional marriage. He has reversed his position on this from what he previously held. In my mind, this is not as serious an issue as the abortion issue, but is still very important. Marriage and family are the bedrocks of a civil, functioning, orderly society.

Lastly, the President’s language of “share the wealth” troubles me. I heartily agree with this empathy for the poor, but I feel that class warfare and envy not only divide the country, but lead to solutions that end up hurting the poor.

Governor Mitt Romney – Like the President, there is much to admire in Governor Romney. I admire his family values, his commitment to his wife and his family. He seems to me to be a man of great character and integrity. I also admire his business acumen and his knowledge of economics. He’s been a fine steward of institutions large and small. He’s also proven to be a very generous, giving man. As a Christian, I cannot say Mr. Romney’s Mormon faith is the same as Christianity, but he gives us much to admire.

Where I agree with Governor Romney: 

I agree with Romney’s position on the need for serious, long-term entitlement reform. I believe his moderate instincts will help him work out solution with members of the other party. I have found his plans a bit sketchy at times, but I trust his judgement on economic theory.

I agree with Romney’s position on abortion. He has admittedly experienced a change of heart–and for that I’m grateful. I’m glad he now sees life as precious, beginning at conception. I pray he remains a champion of life for the rest of his public life.

I agree with Romney’s conservative, capitalistic approach to the economy that says providing an environment where entrepreneurship can thrive will give the best chance for the poor to have the dignity of a job.

I agree with Romney’s desire to provide a long-term solution to the health care crisis. His track record in Massachusetts tells me he is pragmatic about finding ways to get everyone insured.

Where I disagree with Governor Romney

I’m troubled by Governor Romney’s inconsistencies on immigration. In the primaries he adopted the most radical, “kick them out” policies toward the undocumented that are both inhumane and antithetical to a pro-life position. He has since moderated his position on this, but his willingness to throw immigrants under the bus like this troubled me.

I also would like to see the Governor adopt a solution for a simpler tax code, rather than slice and dice tax cuts, etc.

I also disagree when Governor Romney says that he “won’t apologize for America.” I think much of this is just campaign rhetoric, but while I don’t feel America should apologize for good, core beliefs or be weak in the face of terror, however there are times when we as a nation do wrong and should apologize. The idea that we are never wrong just seems antithetical to the great Christian values we claim to espouse.

Who I’m Voting For: 

In the end, I’m going to vote for Governor Romney. There are a few reasons, but for me, the deal-breaker is the issue of life. I believe abortion is injustice, it’s the targeting of the most defenseless in our society.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily a Romney fanboy, that I’m a defender of all things Republican or that I hate Democrats or despise the President. Ultimately, I make a choice and leave the rest to the Lord, who rules in the hearts of kings and who is the only sovereign worth worshipping.

Daniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He previously served five years as Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church. He is a contributor to Leadership Journal, Homelife, Crosswalk.com, Stand Firm,” and a variety of other evangelical publications. He has written several books, including his latest, Activist Faith.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

10 thoughts on “Why I’m Voting, Who I’m Voting For, and Why

  1. I know that you really do think about this seriously as illustrated above. And I hear from a lot of my friends that their main reason for voting Republican is abortion. But honestly, do you think anything is going to change about abortion by electing Romney?

    I do not agree with Obama on many things (over use of drones, increasing the security state, some of the ways the healthcare is being worked out in policy, class warfare rhetoric, etc.) But much of my voting decision is based on things that I think will likely happen. In spite of the fact that the Obamacare is far from perfect, I am concerned that under Romney it will become worse because he will guts the few cost cutting measures and leave the mandate and insurance requirements. I think the 'no new taxes' rhetoric is harmful to the economy. I understand that no one likes taxes, that raising taxes on the wealthy too much is detrimental to the economy, but we can not balance the budget through cost cutting on social programs alone. Military, Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of the budget and Romney has said he won't touch or will increase spending on all three. So I don't understand how you can maintain or increase on so many issues, give more tax breaks and then balance the budget. I agree that Obama probably isn't cutting enough, but I think there is a more reasonable sense of proportion on his side than Romeny's.

    May main question though is, What do you think realistically Romney can actually do on the issue of abortion over the next 4 years. And do you think he will do it.?

    • Adam,

      Good question. I think there is a two-pronged answer:

      First, what can Romney do? Or what would I reasonably expect Romney to do on abortion? Believe it or not there are options within the power of the presidency that Republican presidents have exercised: 1) Reinstating the Mexico city policy which bans funding for NGO\’s if they practice abortion. 2) He can appoint judges to the Supreme Court who will not see abortion as a sacred constitutional right. This one actually has more long-standing impact than anything else. 3) I\’m guessing that Romney would sign a ban an partial-birth and sex-select abortions. 4) This is more hopeful and probably not realistic, but Romney could sign a bill that took taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood, the biggest provider of abortions in America. The first two are realistic, the third, less so, the fourth, more of a pipe dream!

      There is also power in having the President affirm a culture of life.

      Now the second part of the question. In some ways, a vote for Romney (on the issue of abortion, particularly) is a vote against the President. Why do this? Well, President Obama has really doubled down on abortion, not as a tragic moral choice (like other pro-choice Democrats of the past), but as a sacred and celebrated right. This was evident at the Democratic convention. This is evident at the featuring of people like Sandra Fluke and his campaigning with the head of Planned Parenthood. I actually have told some Obama people that this was a mistake, that many young evangelicals who like the President would likely vote for him, but the mockery of prolife values is really a poke in the eye. It\’s interesting in an election about economics, it is the Democrats who are basing their campaign on the right to abort children.

      That\’s not to say I\’m completely sympatico with Romney. I am troubled by the Republican platform to do away with Obamacare–if there is nothing to replace it–this too is a prolife issue. I\’m also troubled by Romney\’s previous embrace of harsh immigration policies. But I\’m leaning on his moderate tendencies as a Massachusetts governor on these issues. I think he\’d make deals in the best interests of the American people.

      At the end of the day, we\’re voting for a man and a party with flaws, even areas where we find deep disagreement. So either way we\’re giving a little. But for me, the Dems doubling down on abortion is the paramount issue.

      • That probably will make some difference. But Bush did all of those things after Clinton and while the abortion rate continued to decline it was much different rate of decline. I wish we had better statistics. The most recent good CDC statistics are 4 years old. So we don't know how Obama's policies affected the real world rates of abortion. Basically there has been a significant decline in abortion since 1980 year over year. The decreasing line from Reagan to Bush to Clinton to Bush is pretty consistent regardless of the president in office. Although there is some evidence that the rate of decline was slowing from 2006 to 2008.

        We know that it is unintended pregnancies that are most likely to end in abortion, especially the unintended that are also poor. And still 40% of pregnancies are unintended. At least the rate of teen pregnancy has dropped significantly, which is a lot of the driving force of the drop in abortion.

        I am pro-life, but I really do wonder if access to health care and more generous social safety net make more difference than presidential policies. No research that I have seen really is all that conclusive.

        I don't at all begrudge you your decision. It makes sense to me and I am glad you are making it. I just am making a different one based on my own assumptions.

        • Adam, I agree with you in so much that I don’t think politics is the ONLY way to curb abortions. Absolutely. I actually wish more of the SuperPac money would go to crisis pregnancy centers who are doing heroic work in convincing young mothers to have their children.

          But, you can’t escape this: The President isn’t talking about reducing abortions. He and the Democratic party are celebrating the right to have one. And if you and I both agree it’s a tragic moral evil, I find it hard to vote for anyone who champions it.

          Furthermore, Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions and the President has doubled down on his support for them.

          So these things motivate my vote. Yes, politics is minimally effective on this issue, but I can’t discount the whole-hearted cheerleading of it by the President. And I say this sadly, because I believe he has many great qualities.

          • Well I live in GA. So my vote won't matter anyway. What does frustrate me is that so much of the discussion is speaking past one another and holding to hard lines of ideology and not working on reasonable solutions that could actually make a difference. I think this is true on both sides. But it is still sad. I do wish we could find some people like Bono and Senator Helms that disagree, but can find areas of agreement and actually do something. There are things we can do that both sides would agree to. But both side see any concession as a slippery slope that has to be fought against, no matter how reasonable.

            I am saddened that Pro-life groups worked to oust six pro-life democrats in 2010. Reducing the few pro-life democrats makes seeking out compromise much harder.

          • I agree with you on that. I was grieved about the pro-life democrats being ousted as well. I felt that their presence in the Dem party might lead to compromise. I feel like the pro life folks hurt their cause on this.

            I’m also grieved by the refusal of one side to consider any curbs on abortion-that would seem to be common sense. But every time something like parental notification or mandating ultrasounds or something is brought up, those who are pro-choice struck it down and condemn pro-life people for even advocating this.

            What makes this issue more difficult is that unlike something like, say, human trafficking, abortion continues to be considered a “divisive, cultural issue” whereas human trafficking (thankfully) is condemned by all sides as a moral, awful evil. And I can’t quite figure out why.

          • I think that for most pro-choice people it is not about abortion, but women's rights. They are fighting a great fight for women, not against unborn babies.

            This is where all of these recent fights against contraception and poorly chosen words around rape really hurt the pro-life cause among democrats. Pro-choice democrats point to legitimate issues around contraception by the Catholic church and say, 'see they won't be happy until all contraception is made illegal'. And 'They really don't see rape as a problem because they are anti-women'. I hear rhetoric like this from otherwise reasonable democrats that I know. There are equivalents among republicans. But I cringe every time I hear a poorly phrased comment by republicans, not because the actual phrase, but because I know it will work as conformation bias among pro-choice democrats to prove that pro-life groups really are as bad as they feared.

          • Yeah, I agree with you. Which is why I think pro-life politicians should be more articulate. It’s not enough to have the right position, but we also need to articulate it well. And as Christians, we could do a much better job in our tone and in our approach.

            I also think pro-life politicians discount the enormous social history behind the pro-choice position, how woman have had to fight for equal rights and see a pro-life position as taking them back to a time they don’t want to go back to. Especially when the issues of rape arise. There was a time when woman wouldn’t be believed if they claimed to be raped. There was a time where abuse was tolerated. And so these things frame the debate and pro-life advocates really need to take that into consideration.

            Fortunately, I think the country is moving more and more pro-life. The latest polls show this, even among women. So perhaps, the silver lining, is that if the Democrats doubling down on abortion proves to be a disaster, perhaps they’ll reconsider. (Though I was sort of hoping for this same thing to happen to Republicans on immigration!)

            Oh well, we do our best, vote our conscience, and trust Jesus!

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