Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Political Strategy vs. Political Understanding

I thought another aspect of our politically focused discussion seemed worth writing on... namely the human tendency to "strategize" & how it works its way into Christian political thinking.

I'm convicted that our inclination toward strategy, generalized planning, blanket judgments, and universal formulas is strongly connected with the human desire to calculate & control. It's a propensity toward independence, the same desire that motivated the biblical original sin (i.e. knowledge without God).

One of the ways this independent / controlling impulse works its way into Christian political thinking is when we begin applying generalized formulas to specific voting decisions. One might say that Christ's kingdom ethics lean more toward Democratic or Republican values & so vote for all such affiliated candidates while bearing antagonism toward other-affiliated candidates. And while this sounds clean, linear, & stable... it's far from realistic.

Reality teaches us that politics, like all of life, is messy. It's full of contradictions, paradoxes, & inconsistencies that prevent universal voting formulas & blanket party affiliations from being truly helpful or even reasonable. In truth, such formulas & unquestioned affiliations become crutches for the uninformed who would know, if they had done their homework, that most candidates have both strong pros & cons to their potential offiial appointments.

Candidates are people, unique & diverse, & must be treated as such. I would have no problem voting across party lines for a candidate I felt more led by God's Spirit & wisdom to vote for. Each candidate must be judged upon their unique resumes of lifestyle & public service. I pray that the era of Republican voting Republican, Democrat voting Democrat, & Independents simply not voting is fast approaching extinction. I hope we're learning to become a more intelligent & relationally aware people than that.

And I still wonder how Jesus-living-thru-us affects our voting patterns on specific candidates (e.g. Obama or McCain).


Michael said...


David said...

What makes it more messy is one Jesus follower might vote for McCain and another for Obama.
McCain my guess is pro-life, and Obama my guess believes in social justice, so whatever hot button a particular person believes in, that's the way they'll vote.

Makeesha said...

very true David. and since I don't believe the issues of abortion and homosexuality are as "black and white" as saying "let's just make it all illegal", I don't think voting for a "pro life anti gay marriage" candidate is necessarily the moral thing to do EVEN IF I am pro life and anti gay marriage.

John Lynch said...

I love the phraseology you use to describe that camp of voters, Mak... "let's just make it all illegal". I think it captures a motivational essence behind the behavior - namely, fear. The assumptive fear that often drives moral politics is so different from Jesus' mode of decisions making which was motivated by the glory of God & the love & redemption of people. Way to hit the ball out of the park... yet again.