The presidential election is not until November, but aside from terrorist attacks and disruptive weather events, the election has dominated the news cycle for almost a year now. As the primary season progresses moving toward the national conventions the political campaigns will be in the forefront of our thoughts until election day in November.
As Americans we have an opportunity not afforded many people in the world. We have the opportunity to shape our own futures by electing men and women to public office who share our values and principles.
As Christians, we have both the right and responsibility to be engaged in the political process. But how? How can we be engaged?
Here are some things all of us can do.
Make an informed choice. News sound bites are not enough. We need to know the issues and the candidates’ points of view on the issues. Listen for more than slogans. It's not enough to hear that we can make our country great again, or we can start in a new revolution. We need to know the hows and whys behind the slogans. It’s time-consuming to understand the issues at stake, to read position papers, and to know where candidates really stand. But when we consider we are making decisions that will affect our futures and those of generations to come, it seems a small price to pay to be informed.
Consider the long-term implications. A solution that looks good for the moment may have undesirable long term consequences which also need to be considered. (A nightly diet of vanilla ice cream covered with chocolate syrup is great in the moment…but the long term consequences for my waistline are less than desirable.) The long-term consequences of an action cannot always be determined in advance, but they should never be dismissed as unimportant. Think long-term.
Be leery of those who offer easy answers to complex problems. Have you noticed that elected officials often find it difficult to follow through on their campaign promises once the assume office? That may be because once they get into office they find out the issues are more complicated that they appear. Now that they are on the inside and have a fuller field of vision, they realize solving the problem won't be as easy as they thought. It may also explain why folks seem to waver on issues. As they gain new information, they may see the need to change their position ... which should be seen as a strength, not a weakness. Our problems are complex, so you might want to be leery of those who offer simple solutions.
Pray, and... I didn't say "and pray." I said "Pray, and." As people of faith we will be encouraged to pray for our country and to pray for the elections. As one who believes prayer does move God, I add my voice to all those that are encouraging us to pray. Just don’t stop there. Pray, and...be informed. Be involved. Be actively engaged in the political process to the extent you are able. Much rides on it.
As Christians, however, we must always remember our ultimate hope is not in politics. It is in the Lord. When politics fails us, as it has so many times, we can remember as M. L. King, Jr. did that while “Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross, but that same Christ arose and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name.”
For me, God bless America is not a slogan, it's a prayer. Whether my candidate (who has yet to be determined) wins or loses, I’ll thank God I’m a Christian and an American.