"Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace." (Luke 14:31-32)
In the above passage, Jesus is talking about the cost of being one of his followers. In doing so, he paints an illustration of a king going to war. Jesus appeals to common sense: no king should go into a war that he cannot win. It's not worth it.
I cannot help but draw a parallel to voting. There are huge differences, to be sure. For instance, there really isn't the same chance that you will loose your life by voting, as there is to die in war. However, with the current voting system, you only get one vote in the primary, and one vote in the general election. So we must choose wisely.
This takes me back to 2011, when I first registered to vote. I didn't know anything about politics or political philosophy. I knew a few of my political beliefs that I held, but I really couldn't explain why. I knew nothing about the pros and cons of the two major political parties, let alone what it meant to be a liberal or a conservative.
I was working for a friend of the family, a small business owner of a local electrical contractor. This man was a good friend, and even a father figure to me in some ways. One day, on our lunch break, he took me to town hall and got me a voter registration form.
I wrestled for some time with what party I'd register with. Would I register with one of the two major parties? Would I take a stance "on principle" and register with a third party? Or would I simply register as an independent? I decided to land where my principles met strategy. I registered with one of the two major parties.
I had trouble putting this into words, but it has always been my principle to vote where strategy meets my principles. In politics, there is always some amount of compromise that needs to take place in order for us to move forward. We need to focus on the things that we do agree on, rather than what we disagree on. For instance, our founders would have never been able to establish our great country, if they had focused on abolishing slavery. Instead they founded a country based on the idea that "all men are created equal".
Sometimes, in our political activism, we get so purist that we see ourselves as the only true defender of justice and civilization. We criticize candidates and organizations because we feel that they compromise on key issues, but in reality, we agree more than we disagree.
During the 2016 primary, we had a lot of great options to choose from. There were no candidates that I lined up with perfectly on all of my beliefs, but one candidate did line up on some of my major beliefs. Unfortunately, said candidate wasn't doing well in the polls, and didn't have a chance at changing that.
So instead, I backed another candidate. I didn't agree with him on a lot of issues, but I agreed with him on the essential: our country needs to get back to the Constitution. Also, his poll numbers indicated that he had a chance at winning the primary.
Long story short, said candidate did not win his party's primary. Neither did my number two, or number three, or my number 14. The candidate who won is the same candidate that I called "the devil" all through the primary. Did I exaggerate? Yes. Am I embarrassed? A little.
Truth is, although I have strong disagreements with my party's nominee, said nominee lines up with my beliefs far better than the nominee of the other party. I had to do some major soul searching for the past few months. In the end, I remember that my principle has always been to vote where my principles meet with the most strategic candidate.
Voting third party would only work if a candidate lined up with most of my beliefs, and had a real chance of winning. Right now, I simply don't see a third-party or independent candidate with that kind of support. Until we see such a candidate rise up during the general election, my advice to you: don't abandon your principles, and don't vote for a candidate who has no chance of winning. Take that advice how you will. I trust God's conscience to guide you in your vote.