1) Pray for the other guy. Whether you’re a fan of Governor Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama, or whether you’re like me and can’t vote for either man in good conscience, take some time to pray for “the other guy.” Pray that God will guide him and give him wisdom. This is especially necessary if “the other guy” is President Obama. He’s our current President, and will be leading this country at least until January, and we are urged, as Christians, to pray for the leaders of our nation. [1 Timothy 2:1-2]
2) Realize that neither guy is gonna blow up the world. As Americans, we tend to make every election into an epic battle between good and evil, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Neither Obama nor Romney is going to “launch the nukes” on January 21st. World War III isn’t coming. They’ll keep bombing “militants” with Predator Drones, in countries (even allies like Pakistan) that are too weak to stop us, but they won’t pick on anyone our own size.
3) Remember that neither guy is Nero or Caligula (or Hitler, or Stalin …). Political partisans and Evangelical Christians have at least one thing in common: we’re all really quick to see ourselves as persecuted. As Christians, we’ve survived much worse leaders, especially in the early days. And there are much worse leaders in the world today, in places like North Korea or Saudi Arabia. Neither man is going to bring back the Spanish Inquisition or the KGB.
4) Remember that we’re fighting over 10%. Obama and Romney agree on a lot of things: the basic shape of government and entitlements, military interventionism, corporatist “capitalism,” and so on. Most of the time, when one or the other party says they’ll “cut” a program (whether welfare or military spending), they mean they’ll reduce the rate of increase, not actually reduce (or even freeze) the current levels of spending.
The two major candidates mostly disagree about things they have limited ability to change: gay marriage (which will be decided in the courts) and abortion (which has already been decided in the courts, and which the last four Republican Presidents managed to do almost nothing about). Neither man is going to radically reshape America. Governor Romney has even said he’d keep many of the Obamacare provisions, and Obamacare was far less of a radical government takeover than the healthcare systems most other industrialized nations have.
5) Democracy, at least at the federal level, is mostly theater. Nobody reading this blog has the power to make any difference at that level: it’s all multi-billion dollar corporations and political action groups. You can make a difference at the local level. If you want to get involved, there’s the place to start.
6) Our hope is not in Washington DC. Our hope, as Christians, is in the God who comes to us, the God who dwells within us. Jesus is still our hope, our real leader. As Dave Ramsey often says, we have to beat the recession in our own lives before we can expect America to recover. It’s a cliche that we have to “be the change we want to see,” but it’s one that actually bears repeating. If you want a more just, compassionate, industrious world, build those virtues in yourself and encourage them withing your personal sphere of influence.
7) No matter who votes for whom, we are still one. As Americans, we are one nation. As Christians, we are one people in Christ. And ultimately, our humanity makes us one with every person on the planet. If we love as God loves us, we can transcend partisan bickering, transcend Facebook flame wars, even transcend big money bought-and-sold politicians. We have hope, and we have to live that hope.
Beyond that, vote how you want. Or don’t. And Tuesday night, join in the Election Day Communion at a church near you.