Blue Blood

I dislike the extreme partisanship that marks the electoral process these days.  Not that I think it probably is any different than how it has always been.  American history is chock full of interesting tidbits about how intolerant we can be towards one another in the name of politics.  

What interests me is dialogue across the lines.  I understand that I think and feel and vote the way I do because I believe my way of approaching things is good.  I trust that most of the folks who will vote the opposite direction believe the same thing about their ways of thinking, feeling, and voting.  But I’m always interested to try and see the other perspective, to better understand how it is that intelligent and faithful people can vote so differently while adhering to the same general tenets of the Christian faith.  
I say that knowing full well that neither party is faithful to the Bible, so what it comes down to often I believe is determining what it is that you find non-negotiable in Scripture and attempting to vote in a way that doesn’t violate that principle (or hopefully principles).  I would argue that it’s impossible to do what I’ve just described.  But I would love to know how others reach their decisions.
So I was interested in this article entitled Why I Am a Christian Democrat.  Now you know how I’m inclined to vote (in case you weren’t sure).  But I had hoped to better understand folks on the other side of the fence.  This article was curious but not overly helpful.  To me, that translates to not touching the main issues that conservatives see as driving them to vote for the Republican party, namely the issues of abortion as well as gender and sexuality-related issues (obviously including but not limited to the debate on same sex marriage).  
To briefly discuss the reasons Ms. Dollar provides:
1.  Whether or not it is an oxymoron doesn’t seem to be the point.  I’m fully aware that many denominations and congregations are quite liberal in their political views.  Rather than explaining a rationale, she seems to be arguing against what “conservative evangelicals” say.  Conservative evangelicals tend to give very platform-specific reasons for why they see voting Democratic to be problematic in terms of exercising one’s faith.  Abortion and sexuality/gender issues are the go to reasons.  Is Ms. Dollar wishing to argue against their stances on these things?  If so, how does she address these Scripture-related issues?
2.  Agreed.  Political and religious conservatism are not necessarily the same thing.  I think that “conservative evangelicals” could have penned this paragraph ver batim, but switched the examples that are used.  What about challenging the values of denying science and common sense to deny unborn children are human in order to maintain a cultural value of abortion on demand to facilitate greater sexual liberty and license?  I agree that neither party is radical enough for Jesus, but conservatives would argue that their commitment to the life of unborn children – a constituency that has *no* voice of its own as opposed to a marginalized voice – is every bit as dedicated to radicalness as the Democratic emphasis on assistance to the poor.  Also, I’d argue that conservative voters are not arguing that the poor need to be cared for – they are arguing about who should be doing it and what sort of safeguards there should be on those processes.  Which leads directly to her next point.
3.  This is a key contention between conservative and liberal voters.  Conservatives won’t likely deny that compared to most governments in the world, our government is fantastic.  We wouldn’t live here otherwise!  But our country is fantastic because it was founded on the precept that government more often is abusive than generous.  That the natural evolution of government leads towards tyranny, and therefore the role of government (particularly the central, Federal government) needs to be tightly controlled.  The assumption of the founding fathers was that it was indeed a diverse and divided citizenry that needed to have control in their hands (though not all of the founding fathers agreed on this) precisely because it was yet another check on the natural progression of smaller and smaller groups of individuals gaining greater and greater power.  While I respect the Democratic view of government, I don’t share it.  I don’t share it because I know how sinful I am and therefore how sinful everyone is, and often times that sinfulness leads people to seek personal gain and power at the expense of those they are called to serve.  
4.  This is an interesting notion.  It assumes that we can achieve justice (which I don’t know if the founding fathers would have agreed with or not – but they did seem to think we could achieve fairness).  Other than a completely reversed understanding of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the main issue is whether or not people are expected to act in the ways Ms. Dollar describes because of their faith, or whether they should be compelled to act in the way she describes by a government that has a rather hefty self-interest in gaining more and more resources.  
The American economy is not God’s economy, and therefore trying to impose a Biblical standard on a secular economy isn’t going to work.  Since our government is adamant about being secular (as it should) I assume it to be rather odd to justify giving it more of my money as though it is representing a Biblical economic model.  The exhortations regarding wealth and its use and abuse are Biblically always directed to individuals – not to governments (or even churches).  The other problem I see here is that Ms. Dollar ignores whether or not wealthy Christians are giving their money towards charitable (not even just religious) causes.  Where are the studies on this?  How is it that America with all of its Christians is consistently the first responder and highest giver towards disaster relief efforts around the world?  Is this just coincidence?  I doubt it.  Instead, Ms. Dollar is asserting that only by giving money to the government will needs be met – without a commensurate willingness to admit that bureaucracy breeds inefficiency that might make those additionally taxed just a bit irritated to see their money wasted by someone else.  
5.  Ditto, for the most part.  Yes, my personal response to the poor and marginalized is very clear, Scripturally.  But this is not the same thing as demanding that I pay more taxes to a government so that it can give to the poor.  Or the not poor.  Or those who could be better served but instead exist on handouts.  The Democratic party seems to feel that it is the government that is best suited to care for the poor.  This is NOT what Scripture says!  Conservatives are more inclined to argue that local interests, not a centralized bureaucracy, are best equipped and able to respond to the needs of those in their own communities, and that faith-based organizations have been doing this for centuries.  This is a confusion of Scriptural exhortations for people of faith to demonstrate their faith in their personal actions and reactions, with the assumption that you can outsource this to a secular government.  
6.  I don’t think anybody reasonably wants to eliminate safety nets.  I know many conservatives (myself included) however, who see a huge difference between a safety net to provide emergency services, and a compr
ehensive welfare system designed to provide people with the things that in earlier decades and centuries were provided locally by family and churches.  
Is our system of laws and regulations convoluted?  You betcha.  Would it be worth our while as Christians to seriously consider how to rethink these laws and regulations?  Certainly.  In the process, we might find that local agencies would be more greatly empowered than they are now.  But to argue that things are complicated and therefore we have to have the government take care of things is somewhat of a circular argument, since it is the government that seems to continually weave the strands of this convoluted web in which many people are often caught.  
I appreciate Ms. Dollar’s explanations here, but they don’t help me understand her faith so much as they help me to understand her political and social philosophy.  These arguments are the ones I often hear from people who vote Democratic.  I care about the poor as well, but that doesn’t mean I believe the government is the best entity to care for them.  I believe that God’s love for people extends beyond allowing them to subsist on handouts.  His love is that which intends for people to be fully healed.  Jesus didn’t hand the lame and blind massive bags of gold to live on the rest of their lives.  He provided them with mobility and sight.  
But most importantly, I believe He did these things not just out of temporary love for these individuals, but out of the fervent desire that in receiving the gift of mobility or sight, they would see him as their Savior.  Not just economically and materially, but eternally and spiritually.  I believe that these things all work together.  By separating them, people are not led to a love of the God who created and redeemed them.  By funding a secular government rather than enabling congregations and other ministries to care for people, we do these recipients a massive disservice – allowing them to subsist or exist for the time being, without witnessing to the God who loves them for all eternity.  That seems like a talking point that doesn’t get much air time from either party.  
Which is one of the reasons I’m so suspicious of both the Red and Blue teams when they attempt to appeal to my faith as a basis for voting for them. 

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