Why I’m not Voting in 2008


Here I am too early in the morning thinking about politics. I am troubled by something and I cannot seem to shake it out. I’m thinking about the upcoming presidential election and the constant bombardment of advertising that panders to Christians in an attempt to wrangle a vote from them. McCain thinks he owns that vote because of Palin on the ticket; Obama is doing his best to convince Christians that he is just as worthy of that vote. I belong to a Kingdom that is not of this world, thus I do not need to fight for the kingdoms of this world–or their kings.

I’m not voting for either one. I have never missed an election since I first became eligible to vote at 18. It has been instilled in me by politicians, teachers, parents, peers, preachers–everyone seems to think that the Christian has some necessary obligation to vote just because the Christian happens to be an American. I love how they harden us for battle by informing us of all the terrible things that will happen if we vote for this one while failing to remind us of all the terrible things that will happen if we vote for that one. We are wowed and moved by stories of those who ‘gave their lives so that you can live in a free country and vote.’ I think there is not a little midrash involved in those stories (the fella sitting in a fighting hole during the Bulge was not thinking of my voting rights). We are told hero stories, with romantic nostaligia, of the wars fought against tyranny and how voting should be considered a privilege, an honor, and the highest of all civic responsibilities. I am beginning to rethink all that and I have not missed so much as a local election in 20 years–even when I was in college.

This year I am perplexed by the candidates. I have never liked McCain or his ‘maverick’ politics–which were nothing more than his own push for power. I don’t like Obama because his liberal politics will certainly not benefit anyone in this country–except the rich, the very people he claims to despise and detest. And, to be sure, who cares about the VP. Thomas Jefferson, if I recall correctly from a book I read, considered it one of the most worthless positions in Washington. I’m not voting for McCain just because he chose Palin to be his VP running mate; I’m not voting for Obama just because he didn’t choose Hilary.

You see, politicians–as much as they claim the opposite–are interested only in the power. They are not interested in serving or leading. They are interested in followers, disciples, and power. When I vote, I become a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. When I vote, I put them in power and inflate their sense of importance or I help slake their thirst for power. When I vote I feed their hunger and thirst, not for righteousness, but for power. The Jesus way is not one of power, but crucifixion. I don’t think the power of Jesus, his rule or his reign, needs to be amplified by my participation in ‘getting the right man into the White House.’ It seems to me that only Christians who think there ‘is a right man,’ or that they will somehow benefit from ‘the right man,’ or lack the confidence that is afforded by hope in Christ are terribly concerned about who the next president will be.

The White House does not exist to advance the cause of Christ or to pray for his reign to last forever. The White House exists to serve the powers, and rulers, and principalities that govern this present darkness–the very enemy that the Christian is exhorted to take up arms against (Ephesians 6). It doesn’t mean that I hate America. It means that America is not my destiny or my salvation. I’m not free because I live here, because I freely elect leaders, or because I paying taxes on time keeps me out of jail. I am free because I belong to Jesus–regardless of who the elected power happens to be. I don’t think it is enough for a Christian to vote in an election just so that the Christian ensures her own personal liberties are protected by those in power. Power is not the protector or guardian of Christian faith and practice.

Nor do I think the cause of Christ is advanced simply because the right man, supported by the right people in congress, nominates the right person to sit on the bench of some court. Humans do not dispense justice; they hand down judgments. Judgments are not always justice, nor are they always right. And how can humans make those sort of choices anyhow? The ‘right people’ have, in the eyes of all those who elect them and nominate them, always been on the benches of our courts. ‘The right person’ is a terribly subjective idea. My idea of the ‘right person’ is not anything like social liberal’s idea of the ‘right person.’ So who’s to say? My particular choice is not necessarily God’s particular choice and Scripture is rather clear that it is only his choice that matters. (His choice of leadership is always Jesus, btw.)

I’m not saying there is not truth. On the contrary: there is. What I am saying is that The Truth is not man’s truth or man’s idea of truth. Furthermore, Jesus does not need ‘the right people’ in order to accomplish his purposes on this earth. Rome thought Herod was ‘the right man’ for the job back in his day. Jesus’ response to Herod was something like, ‘You go and tell that fox that I will do what I want to do, on my time-table, and he will neither hinder or enhance my work.’ In other words, Jesus has his own agenda that has nothing to do with who is or is not in power. Jesus has only one agenda: His own. We can neither stop it nor start it. I sometimes wonder if we even participate in it.

I think I have more to say on this, but I’ll end with one more thought. You see, I’ve been reading Psalm 61 this morning which is a decidedly political Psalm. He talks about the Lord ‘increasing the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations.’ He talks about the king being ‘enthroned in God’s presence forever.’ But this is not ordinary king, I think, because even this king says, “I long to dwell in your tent forever, and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” He also wrote, “Then I will ever sing in praise of yoru name…” This king, David, knew didn’t he: Flesh cannot reign forever. David knew the true King and prayed that God would increase his reign.

You see, I think I can afford to skip this election because I am not putting my hope in politicians. I am not putting my hope in the supreme court or those who sit on the benches. (Would it be the worst thing in the world if Christians in America all of a sudden started losing rights they now enjoy here in America? Have we proven more faithful to God because we possess those rights? I think not.) My hope is not in the White House. (I think too many theologians with bad theology have the ears of politicians now and it has cost the world a great deal of time, money, and life.) I am not putting my hope in the sort of king who will not be ‘enthroned forever.’ (The same arguments for why I should elect someone every four years are spoken every four years and NOTHING ever changes. NOTHING. Has anyone ever noticed this?) Frankly, I’m not putting my hope in people who have nothing in mind but their own power, their own ambition, their own prestige. I’m not putting my hope or trust in anyone who thinks they can alter human history and desires to do it. Nor am I trusting anyone who thinks he can undo 200 years of human corruption in a matter of four years. Both of those ego-maniacs think they can; I’d have more respect if they admitted that the odds were not in their favor at all.

Our help is not in politicians.
Our refuge is not in politicians.
Our power is not in politicians.
Our worship is not of politicians.
Our dwelling is not with politicians.
Our prayers are not answer by politicians.
Our protection is not from politicians.

Our hope is not because of politicians.

Besides, according to the Scripture, I am an alien and a stranger in this land. Perhaps I don’t even possess voting rights after all. I pray that God’s will be done, I just think this year I am going to let it be done with regard to politicians instead of being so anxious to accomplish it for him. This year, I am going to trust that “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation…” (Daniel 4:34, 6:26, 7:27). And that will be enough.

Semper Deo Gloria!

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16 thoughts on “Why I’m not Voting in 2008

  1. I disagree. If you don’t vote, you concentrate power in the hands of those who do.

    Furthermore, those elected have the power to eliminate freedoms in day-to-day life as President Bush has with his Patriot Act, with the effect of limiting free speech, and that includes those who would speak out for Christ and do good things according to their conscience.

    As you point out, it’s best to remember our kingdom is not earthly, but as physical citizens of this country, we should vote.

    Not all for one party, as our candidates are imperfect people with imperfect platforms, but all of us with our best judgements.

    That’s my 2 cents.

    I only just found your blog looking for something else, but thank you for sharing your good thoughts.

  2. Kerren,

    I understand your point and why you disagree. However, I disagree that I am concentrating the power into the hands of those who do vote. What I am doing is giving the power back to God whose will will be done. I’m actually depriving them of power by informing them that they have no power over me regardless of who they vote for. You justify my point by pointing to Pres. Bush’s Patriot Act: I see the Patriot Act as a good thing, not evil. Thus, who is right? I refuse to allow my life, for one more day, to be defined by the things that political theologians tell me matters. The only thing that matters is Jesus Christ.


  3. A very thoughtful post. The last time I voted was in 2000 and since then I have come to see politics as being much ado about nothing. The issues are always the same with each side claiming promises to repair everything and claiming total blame on the other side.

    The political system is one of inflated accomplishments, evil speaking of others, outrageous promises, manipulative ads, slick and nebulous speeches, Madison Ave. deception, blind party loyalty, self promotion, caustic hyperbole, and the spending of obscene amounts of money which will top 1 billion dollars this year. And in 2012 the issues that were to be fixed will still be around to provide empty promises again.

    It is not that there are no good men and wome running, it is the system that prostitutes everyone very early in their political careers. I now leave it to God, I do not complain about elected officials, and I am no longer emotionally involved or deluded into hoping that things will change. I now believe change can only come through the gospel, and change without Christ is a unproductive mirage.

    Thanks for the post.

  4. Rick,

    Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your thoughts. I cannot say that I disagree with anything you wrote. I am seriously only interested in the rule of God. Aside from that, who cares.


  5. Dan, thank you so much for your thoughtful and interesting post about the election! I am always interested in why people vote the way they do (or don’t vote, in your case!). Earlier this year Dr Dobson also made a statement that if McCain won the nomination he would not vote. I don’t know if he changed his mind on that as the year progressed though.

    You lay forth many very good arguments about trusting in God versus trusting in the institutions of men. And I absolutely agree that ultimately it is up to the Lord – he always ordains the leaders of this nation – and others. I often think that politician bashers (thinking of all those believers who vehemently hate Bill Clinton) don’t know their Bible. “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:17) You don’t have to like the man’s personal life or his political values, but to despise him is to dishonor what God has done in placing him there.

    The role of government is to “punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” (1 Peter 2:14) The role of government as established by God was to discern between good and evil – to honor what is good and to punish that which isn’t. God actually designed government as a much more limited thing than the massive behemoth we have today. But because people in general have turned from God they look to the government of man to take care of them instead. Hence why we rail against our government when it fails to protect us from a natural disaster (ala a hurricane) – because people seek their safely in man not God.

    Having said that, the structure of our nation is such that I am allowed to give input into the way that government is structured and run. When I vote, I vote according to my convictions of how I read the Bible and understand what government should be. However, I also recognize that I am only one person and my vote only counts as a small thing. Political parties are always trying to energize us with statements of ‘every vote counts!’ and while they do count the votes I’d be a fool to think that any race of large value ever comes as close as one vote (maybe if I lived in a small town of 7 people it would matter…). So I do vote what I judge to be best, but I also recognize that God IS in control and that despite what I think is right, his plans and ways are higher than ours and His Will will always be accomplished. I also know that should something happen where I don’t get to vote or forget or whatever that His Will will still be accomplished despite losing my vote. (LOL, that assumes that my vote went along with his will!)

    My mother must take this view (your view) herself. She’s Canadian born but has lived in the US since she was 9. She’s never became a citizen so she’s never voted in any election. I’d never really thought of that in terms of her trust in God over her civil liberties and the laws etc but that is exactly what it is. Thanks for the perspective.

    Ultimately the most important thing is that people come to know Christ and I’d be hard pressed to find any instance where government – not personal relationships – was the key.


  6. Wow. That was one blistering post. I hear what you are saying, and I share your dilemma. What kind of choice are we really getting?

    Yet I still feel some obligation to vote. It may be social conditioning, but it is still important to me.

    Regardless, I admire you for staking your position and having the spine to make it public.

  7. Friends,

    Thanks for the encouraging replies. I received this email from a friend of mine. He wrote:

    “Don’t know if I still have your correct e-mail, but I just wanted to comment that your post “Why I’m not Voting in 2008″ was one of your best ever. I think that I agree 100% with your thoughts.”–JB

    I realize my position is not an easy one, nor is it for everyone. Another commenter left some unfinished thoughts and I am waiting for him to finish them before I post them. I’m not going to comment on each person’s thoughts except to say thank you for writing back. I don’t think I’m giving power to anyone. I think by withholding my vote and am protesting against a corrupt system that I no longer wish to be a part of. It is violent and power hungry I can no longer give my approval nor entrust such power to mere men.

    Thanks again for your kind replies.

    PS–Dee, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)

  8. Dan,
    The short version of what I was going to post is simply this:
    I agree with you completely on not voting for either of the two major party candidates this year, but I disagree with you on your reasons for doing so.

    I think it is completely within a Christian’s rights as a voter to say there are no righteous candidates and to not cast a vote for anyone. On the other hand, I think it is dangerous for a Christian to say that they have no obligation to vote for a righteous man. Proverbs 29:2 says When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. What’s more, Romans tells us that the powers that be are ordained of God. This means that your power to vote is ordained of God, and you, like Esther were born for such a time as this. We cannot opt out of the process, but we can rightfully judge to cast our vote for no one in this particular part of this particular election (though, I think there are some write-in and third-party candidates that are scripturally qualified)

    Anyway, I really wanted to write more and to be more through in my response, but I don’t have the time today. Thanks so much for your post and for your clear desire to do what honors God,

  9. yadda yadda, you have too much time on your hands. of course individual votes don’t matter, any way you spin it your personal vote and opinion does not matter. but guess what, its not all about you, this one day every 4 years, your fellow americans ask you to think about the country as a whole, not just yourself.

  10. bf,

    Thanks for that otherwise useless reply. ‘my fellow americans…’? is that really what it is about? voting is one of the most selfish ambitions known to humanity. of course voting is about ‘me.’ i don’t vote to make things better for others; i vote to make things better for me. that’s the whole point. seriously. that’s yet one more reason why i won’t be doing it this year.

    Thanks for stopping by,

  11. I vote to make things better for others. Like unborn babies who cannot vote yet. And I vote so society isn’t so evil for my nephew as he grows up. (haha…yeah, right)

    I understand your reasons for not voting, but not all of us vote for just ourselves. Maybe you did, but not everyone is as selfish as you made yourself out to be.

  12. I understand your views on why you’re not voting in this upcoming election next month. I’m not voting either. Yeah, I also get the “people fought and died for you to have rights, such as voting.” It’s the guilt trip tactic. If we have the freedom to vote, we also have the freedom to not vote. What’s more interesting to know is that a vote not cast is just as powerful and outspoken as a vote that is cast. You are taking a stand for what you believe, and that is to not support candidates you don’t feel comfortable leading the nation. I don’t read in the Bible where God condemns people on not voting for an official. Hah.

    I won’t vote for McCain for many reasons (war in Iraq, economic policies, etc.). The only thing that I agree with him on is his views on abortion. He is pro-life, just as I am. However, though I admire and respect his duties in war (even being held as a P.O.W.), I don’t think he is President material. Plus, did you watch the final debate this past Wednesday? He constantly interrupted Obama, made rude remarks, made constant disrespectful facial expressions, and gave responses that were indirect to the questions asked. I couldn’t stand that! lol.

    I would vote for Obama if he was pro-life. I am utterly against abortion to its full extent; however, he supports it in some cases. I think abortion is murder. Every human has rights, including the right to live. Just because a baby is unborn, does not make it less human or alive. Aborted babies never got a chance in life and were extinguished in the most horrific way. It’s really sad. Obama supports abortion if it costs the life of the mother. In my view, it’s in God’s hands the life and death of every person, not mankind. We don’t need to choose the fate of each person’s time on Earth, including our own. If it’s God’s plan to let us live, then fine. On the other side, if it’s our time to go, then so be it.

    That’s why I can’t vote for these two candidates. I feel that my silence on November 4th will make a point – that I will not support people I don’t feel righteous or fitting for the position.

  13. I just came to the conclusion that I won’t vote in this election.

    I’ve always voted Republican, mostly b/c of the pro-life issue. My thinking being that all our decisions and policies hinge on our basic value of human life. Plus, I was in health care and my job was essentially recession-proof.

    However, I can no longer support the economic (and foreign) policies of the Republican party. I’m now a stay-at-home-mother, married to a man who’s career is *entirely* economy-driven, and also the deregulation of the industry by Republicans have made his career very unstable and unpredictable. (He is losing his job for the second time since 9/11 soon, and he had only been back working for a year.) Therefore, my thinking has changed there.

    I had decided I was going to support Obama in this election. My husband had convinced me that, even though the pro-life agenda is important, I should vote based on what is most important to me at this point in my life–which according to him, is our economic standing.

    But the last few days, I’ve come under heavy conviction that I cannot support Obama, b/c of his stand on abortion and other polices regarding children’s rights. I cannot abandon my basic belief in the sanctity of life or the authority of the parent in the family just b/c he’s having trouble keeping a job these last 8 years. How he decides to vote is up to him and his conscience, and that’s OK. I don’t think less of him b/c he can set aside those values for this election (and the last one, too). He doesn’t have to answer to me, nor do I have to answer to him about this.

    So that left me with the thought that perhaps I shouldn’t vote in this election. It seems right to me, after praying and thinking hard about it the last few days. I’ve decided I will trust God for the outcome.

    And boy do I feel a huge sense of relief!

    I realized that I was placing my “faith” in Obama for our economic future. And that is wrong. God holds the key to our future. God alone. I was teetering on idolatry and now I will place my trust squarely at the feet of God.

  14. Elle,

    Thank you for that powerful testimony. I think you have made the correct decision. A vote for Obama is a vote against life (and, if I might add, a vote against a better economy.) Wait until after the election. Things are bound to pick up again after this charade of an election is over. We are all losers in this election because both candidates are worthless.

    I’m with you: My faith is in Christ alone.


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