Tis the season... for politics.
The Republican primary races are heating up as the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries are next month. Though the entire country and not all Christians are Republican, I still thought it'd be an appropriate time to think through how we should vote.
Years ago, I treated readers to a systematic theology of political issues in their rank of importance. That's similarly related to how I think through political issues, and why I vote on certain politicians over others. You may not agree with this list, but I find having a rubric in place sets my mind at ease, and helps me not get caught up in the ephemeral beauty pageants that tend to be Presidential elections (or high-profile state elections).
1. To me, the most important defining characteristic of whom to vote for over another revolves around a person's view on major life and death issues. Particularly, what is a candidate's stance on just war and abortion? The most fundamental human right (found in the 1st and 9th amendments) is the right to exist and to exist justifiably. Babies in the womb have not done wrong so as to be killed, and neither have innocent civilians in war. Naturally, there are more complexities to the issue than this. But generally, if I agree with a candidate's views here over and against a different candidate, I won't go any farther. I will pull the trigger for the one I agree with.
2. But what if two (or more) candidates generally agree on the above issues? How might I further differentiate on them? Well, in this category, I will call it "quality of life" issues. Does the candidate really believe an unfettered market is an unqualified good? Does the candidate believe in any semblance of local, state, or federal solutions or cooperations with private industry or charity to accomplish ends which alleviate human suffering? Does the candidate believe in a statist proposition that government is the instrument of good? Do they believe the government is an instrument of good at all or can it merely set the right conditions for justice to occur? I'm trying not to give away all of my political opinions on various issues here, other than to say that how you answer these questions will likely determine your vote in a state or primary election.
3. But what if candidates agree, even still, on the issues in the second category? How will I then decide? This is what I call the character category. Does the individual exemplify strong moral character? Are they running unfair attack ads? Does the individual display an effective means of leadership? Are they intelligent or just an ideological puppet? These are important questions. I might agree with a candidate on all important issues, but they might be a horrible leader. Nevertheless, I don't want to stomach compromise on the first two issues just to get a good leader. I will vote for someone if they agree with my opinions on 1 and 2 but have moral character, as opposed to someone who has great moral character but I disagree with their views on 2. That's why these are prioritized in this fashion.
Now, I can never nor have I ever come upon a situation where my vote wasn't determined by these three steps. I can't think of any examples where candidates would have lined up well in all three categories.
You might have a different priority as you think of whom you might vote for? I'm curious as to what those might be. Feel free to comment below.