Several months ago, before the Iowa Caucus, I wrote a blog post explaining my support for Ben Carson for President. I was so excited about this election – not just because of a candidate I believed in, but also because so many Americans were getting involved in the primaries.
People who never voted before had registered to vote and had strong opinions about who they loved. Friends and family who had never even attended a caucus before were attending AND getting up in front of their peers to voice their support for someone.
It was like a crazy, energetic train of people and ideas and it just kept surging faster and faster.
Until about two months later when the wheels fell off the train and it felt like it careened into the wilderness.
Now, many of my friends have stopped to ask me. “What do you think about Trump as the Republican nominee?” What are you going to do?” And they look at me with furrowed brows and panicked eyes and tension in their shoulders. Because they got involved and began to care about this election.
Maybe for the first time, they really care.
I’m with them. I was first disbelieving, then disillusioned that Donald Trump would be the Republican Presidential nominee. I went to the store to find some rose-colored glasses about the whole scenario, but instead I just found the hard lenses of truth.
So instead, I prayed. And I processed. And I researched. And then I did that again and again. Here’s where I’ve landed.
1. Everyone needs to calm down. Really. Take a deep breath. You’re scaring the children.
You have a vote, you have a circle of influence and talent, and you have a God who listens to your prayers. Do what you can within those abilities, and stop obsessing about what you cannot control.
Also, if you’re a follower of Jesus like I am, you can take heart in the fact that it is God knows the story from beginning to end. That said, we’ve been given the gift of free will and liberty, and…
2. You need to vote.
Not should vote. Not maybe think about it.
In my book (and in that of the Founding Fathers and a whole lot of heroic men and women who died for our country), it is matter of personal honor to vote. It is not simply my privilege or choice, it is my sacred responsibility. The blood of American men and women I’ve never met is the ink with which I am able to freely and safely cast my vote on November 8th.
3. Like it or not, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee.
It’s the elective system we’ve used for more than two centuries, and of course it’s not perfect. But it’s a good one. Why do I think so?
Because I got to vote on caucus night. I spoke freely in front of my fellow citizens. I had the right to try to persuade others. I was given the opportunity to sit shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors and vote in an honest system. And my guy lost.
But you know what won? Democracy. Free elections. Peaceful exchange of power. Let’s not take that for granted.
4. When it comes to the Presidency, I think long-term, and I think broad values.
We live in a world where I can walk into Starbucks and order a tall half-caf vanilla latte with coconut milk. I can buy personalized M&Ms. I can order my daughter an American girl doll that is exactly to my specifications right down to her hair ribbon.
Unfortunately, Presidential candidates don’t work that way.
I have yet to find a one-size-fits-all Presidential candidate. And if you think you’ve found one, just wait a couple weeks. Something from their past will emerge, or one wrong Tweet and you’ll be back to plain old coffee.
I look back to elections such as 1872 – Rutherford Hayes against Samuel Tilden – one of America’s most heated and disputed elections. Had I been alive back then, the information available to me about each candidate would have been minimal – probably filling a single sheet of paper. I would have known their basic background and their stance on a handful of issues. And I would have made the best decision I could with the information I had. End of story.
Today, Presidential candidates are so thoroughly background-checked and vetted that we practically know what type of crayon a person preferred in preschool. We’re served up with a truly overwhelming amount of Presidential information when we’re already overwhelmed, and we don’t even know if it’s trustworthy. It’s exhausting.
5. So, how am I making a decision?
I ask myself a few simple questions (and I’d suggest you do, too):
- What are the four most important issues to me this election? Whose platform do I align with more?
- To what issues am I vehemently opposed? Who supports those stances?
- What are the long-term implications of this election for my children and grandchildren (Supreme Court, anyone?).
And then I do the best with what I know, I hold my choices with open hands before my God, and I vote.