Don’t Blame Your Vote on the Bible

votethebible

A curious thing has happened this election cycle, the likes of which I have never witnessed in my 35 years of life: Christians are voting for a man that is completely morally bankrupt.

It’s an unusual place for people of faith to find themselves in. Usually, at least where I grew up, the sinner is the democrat, the evil fiend that supports partial birth abortion (which sickens me as much as many of you), cradle to grave financial assistance and condones anything, anyone, wants to do with their body.  The choice, at least in the minds of many, has always been clear.

I literally did not meet my first Democrat Christian until I went to college but that’s because I didn’t know any Democrats in my Republican evangelical bubble.  Until the ripe age of 18 I had no idea a Christian Democrat was even possible…and many still hold this opinion.

Republicans are Christian (family values) and Democrat’s support things that ain’t; It’s as simple as that.

This is what people usually mean when they say “I vote with a biblical worldview” and it usually results in social policy that reflects the Republican Party (since fiscally both parties are the same).

I know, I know, but don’t tune me out yet. I’m not trying to make you mad…I’m trying to make you think.

I am not saying that anyone has the moral high ground this election. I’m not saying that you should vote for Clinton (I’m not) but saying that morality is now relative or that one’s morality is at least better than the others (even though both Trump and Clinton have proven absent) is not an argument for anything.

It’s an argument to justify a decision.

I am stating that for many years now, at least since President Reagan, a large segment of voters have voted based on “Christian” values, and now, faced with voting for someone that doesn’t share those Christian values, but does sit atop the GOP ticket, Christians are scrambling to either jettison the importance of values or make Trump align with values he’s never embraced.

One of the many attempts to do so, and the object of this essay, is to suggest that since God used sinful people in the Old Testament that clearly means God can use sinful people to accomplish his goals and not merely use, but that God chose to implement this strategy.

Just find a random religious thread on Facebook or Twitter, a thread that uses the Bible to justify voting Trump, and you will find this argument.

I literally read in a thread (and since I have heard it countless times in various forms) that “since God used the midwives of Pharaoh, Samson, and the Assyrians to accomplish his will it is possible that God can use Trump as well…and he’s better than Clinton.”

So let me get this straight.

The reason we should vote for Trump is because he shares commonality with Assyria, Babylon, Egypt and Old Testament Heroes that were narcissistic? That’s the argument we are working with here?

We are not in Kansas anymore.

God “used” these “evil” or “sinful” realities to administer world history, therefore, we should vote for someone of the same character for God to continue to do so? A character the likes of which God’s prophets continually warned against using?
If this was the case, and Christians for so long have not voted democrat for EXACTLY that reason (evil, sinful, depraved policies) then why haven’t Christians been voting Democrat all along?

Maybe we could have expedited this whole American Exile thing that many people believe we have entered.

If there is any thread that runs throughout the scriptures it is not one of obedience, but one of a called, chosen people, disobeying God, repetitively being disciplined, corrected, and then redeemed.

Israel never “gets it” so to speak. God has to use that which is not sanctified because sanctified Israel is hardly of use. But it’s not like the Bible tells us that was pleasing to God.

But since the Bible says God used those things that weren’t holy to do his will we are now ready to embrace those unholy things because the unholy is the only choice we have…

The only issue I have here is that we don’t want to admit that. We want to justify it with our faith in order to sleep at night, but the result of doing so is damage to that very faith construct.  The damage of which will be felt long after any election.

Personally, I do not care about the morality of my president (no I am not voting Trump). There was a time when people of government and official administration were mannered, polite and self-deferential for the common good. That time has long passed.

Recent American presidential history (at least from JFK to the present) gives us a cast of characters that set the bar very low when it comes to morality.

I wrote here during the primary season that it’s absurd to vote on values any longer. I argued we should vote on political principles and philosophy instead. This is how a Christian, like myself, can embrace the political philosophy of one Thomas Jefferson (an agnostic I would argue but some say atheist). We share different faith lenses but that doesn’t keep me from being persuaded of his political philosophy.

The very last thing we should do, however, is justify a flawed character because we believe the bible justified flawed characters.

This is both the problem, solution and brilliance of scripture.

Scripture has no recourse but to use flawed characters because that is literally all that it has. And that should make us all feel a little better about ourselves.
There is no biblical character, no hero of the bible, that is perfect. None of them are holy and contrite in every intention. The great heroes: Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon…they are all messed up people.

So the point is, yes, God uses flawed people because we are all flawed people.

But there is also an irony when you compare those flawed people with the cast of characters known as Assyria, Persia, and the rest: Those characters are NEVER used in the bible as exemplars of the kinds of people or nations God WANTS to use. 

This is the large message of all of these Books in the Old Testament: Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings. In these books, the people of God FAIL to live as Deuteronomy instructs them. The bible heroes in these stories are tragic displays of unfaithfulness that God continues to work around, so in an ironic twist, we see them behave like Donald Trump, disobey commands, get themselves in precarious situations. 

They are not exemplars of how to be faithful to God. God wants to use THESE people but because they are so dense he outsources to the nations and to characters who are not part of God’s people (in the narrative).

The message is: Don’t be like these people…it will not go well if you do. Samson committed suicide, Moses never entered the Promised Land, David never ruled a united Kingdom and Israel eventually went into Exile. All Bad stuff.

The fact that God has to use these other characters (Assyria, Persia, Pharaohs midwives, just pick your villain or non-Israelite cast member) is not a justification of them; it is an indictment against Israel. It is tongue in cheek.  

It is not a “go and do likewise” commandment of Jesus.

Through them scripture teaches us this lesson: so you won’t fulfill the calling I have for you? Fine. Moving right along and this way may take a bit longer.

It’s never God’s preference to use Assyria, or the Philistines, or whomever. This is what ends up happening because God’s people are of no use.

This is why we find many stories in the Old Testament in which the least suspected characters are servants of God: God didn’t set out for Israel to be misguided but misguided it has been so God has to use other actors in history, not as a first resort, not as a vote FROM his people, but because there is a mission to accomplish.

At least this is what we find in the biblical narrative, the narrative that gives us theological justification for why history happened as it did.

The Bible records events years after the events themselves. Its authors have spent copious hours trying to understand, justify and make sense of the movement of history.  What we find in scripture is the result of that process.

God using evil as a first choice, however, is never condoned. God’s people selecting kings that were blatantly antithetical to their principles as a people never happened intentionally (though one could argue that their initial intentions were flawed and such happened regularly such as King Saul or some of Solomon’s sons).

It makes little sense to use the Bible in this way, to suggest that because an event happened in the Bible and God used it, that that is God’s preferred way of doing things.

It makes even less sense to suggest that we should be implicated in wrong doing because God can use it anyhow.

Something about Jesus saying “it is written you shall not test the Lord your God” comes to mind here…

Sometimes the Bible is not a prescription for how we are to act. Sometimes it is a warning against how not to act. It teaches us what to prevent through its witness and what to avoid embracing…which is why all the Christian justification of Trump is so puzzling.

You want to vote for Trump, that’s cool, but don’t blame it on God or the Bible.  Own it yourself.

Same goes if you want to vote Hillary.  She’s not the benevolent government administrator one finds in Jacob.

I feel like we have fully become biblical Israel in this election because we have forgotten who we are and justified a vote for depravity with our faith. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Sounds a lot like another story I know, a story that finds God’s people doing what they thought was right even as a golden calf was being fashioned right before their eyes.
And we know what they did for the next 40 years after that vote was cast.

Jokers to the Left of Me, Clowns to the Right: Bernie and Business Rhetoric

BigBusiness

There is one thing in particular that concerns me about the Bern Revolution: the carelessness of thought exhibited by many of its followers.  More exactly, the disregard for understanding the many facets of business that are currently being demonized, particularly with the rhetoric used by Bernie’s campaign.

All of a sudden, folks that have claimed to think with nuance (college students and self proclaimed enlightened folk) have lost all nuances and are drowning in Bernie’s talking points.  They are rehearsing the talking points of intelligent people, but the intelligent people that articulated these ideas never did so at the expense of nuance.  The masses have embraced catch phrases.

Just look at the news or language of protesters…even Facebook posts.  It is mimesis ad nauseum.

Some of the more popular phrases are:

“we are the 1%”

“profits over people”

“wall street and big business”

“Fighting for the middle class”

“common good”

“working wage”

I could go on.

Do the people using these phrases know what they mean or are these just talking points?  Easily rehearsed bible verses if you will?

In case you want to immediately object, or quit reading at this point, I must be like the Apostle Paul and remind you that I have a few liberal credentials, progressive credentials even.  This post is not written by some conservative lackey looking to uphold the status quo though I want to be honest about my own career which is in business and in vocational Christian ministry.  I hope such does not disqualify me from speaking.

By all accounts I am a moderate…in other words a “sell out” to many of you who might read this post.  I will not die on Adam Smith’s sword nor will I hoist Marx into the pantheon of economic Gods.  They are referent points, which at first blush, may seem to be in stark contrast, but in reality are only different teleologically.

In 2012 I attended LEFT Forum, the single largest gathering of Leftists on the planet for their annual conference in NYC.  I was surrounded by real life Leninists, Trotskyists and those who think Rosa Luxemburg is a saint.  These are folks who think Obama is a conservative.  What’s more?  I sat on a panel, presented a paper on a critique of capitalism, and that said paper was published in the Review and Expositor journal, Spring 2013 issue.  My paper’s title, “A Wesleyan Critique of the Leviathan of Capitalism.”  Yes, I used a historically evangelical figure to write a critique of capitalism, private property, liberal republicanism and I was even able to work in the doctrine of sanctification to boot.  What’s more?  For that same issue I wrote a book review on David Harvey’s excellent analysis of capital called The Enigma of Capital, which is a Marxist critique of the function of capital.  I am familiar with, have read, and sympathize with much of these critiques.  I find David Harvey refreshing and honest…though I am not sure he is any closer to the answers of our systemic problem than the next brilliant analyst.

On this very blog I have written on economics.  They aren’t exactly Ayn Rand’s type, though they don’t half-wittedly embrace Marx as the economic savior many claim him to be.  Just check me out HERE if you’d like to see some of my past analysis or search this blog under economics.  Or if you doubt my leftist theoretical credentials, THIS should clear that up (Lacan surfaces elsewhere on my blog as well)

My personal book shelves have more leftist economics and theory than I have books on Saint Paul and his letters, and I’m a minister!   On those shelves one will find Alain Badiou’s The Communist Hypothesis, William Cavanaugh’s Being Consumed, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, David Graeber’s monumental book Debt, and for some twisted levity Slavoj Zizek’s Living in the End Times to name a few.

To be even more stereo-typical, I have 2 degrees from liberal arts universities (a BA and an MDiv and I’m working on a DMin) so of course I am a Lib.  I have even voted democratic in elections past.

(My own continued research interests intersect around economics, faith and constructive political theology…flavored with Continental Philosophy, particularly phenomenology.  Currently, I am exploring ethongraphy as a tool that can help engage disbelief structures/secularity with the faith.  Not exactly fundie brain food.)

While these credentials do not mean I am a card-carrying Leftist, they do mean I have given thought to a range of ideas outside of the normative ones with which I was raised (conservative, republican, evangelical, religiously fundamentalist, pro-capitalism…the typical WASP).  Being exposed to lots of thought and passionate people on different perspectives has taught me that nuance is important and that a simple reduction of one movement or idea to a villianized phrase is not very helpful.  Likewise, Sean Hannity can get on the radio and use the word “intellectual dishonesty” or “socialist” or “besmirched” and he thinks he’s defining something.  All he’s doing is galvanizing a base.  He is not educating or informing anyone.  He’s just drawing a line in the sand.

For the record, I think Hannity is an idiot.

Back to Bern.

Bern’s supporters are passionate, mobilized, and they want to see change in America.  I have intelligent friends who are supporters of Bernie.  Some of his support is from rigorously thoughtful people that know history and contemporary politics quiet well.   The problem is that the rigor of thought and careful attention does not “trickle down” from the intelligent people to the masses.  The masses key in on these catch phrases the way Sean Hannity does and they end up saying things they do not even understand…just like Sean Hannity (sorry if that stings).

For example, I have seen interview after interview where random reporters ask supporters of Bernie to define democratic socialism.  They have been asked to define the difference between fascism, socialism and communism.  They have been asked to define capitalism.  They have been asked to denote the differences between theoretical taxation under a socialist or capitalist system.

Do you know how many folks have been able to answer with a modicum of intelligence?   Shockingly few.  With stuttering…many have no idea.

(To be fair, I think many conservative people would be equally ignorant of their most “valued” principles if they had to write a few paragraphs as well)

Many of my friends have answers to these questions.  Further, many people I know can articulate actual policy and contrast it with the current policy of Obama or past Republican governments.  Many Bern supporters are thoughtful BUT many many more are clueless as to what they are supporting.  They are supporting sound bites just like dense Republicans who have fallen for Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” sound bite.

The problem with sound bite politics is that it generalizes too much.  It tends to lump entire groups of people into the same category, when in fact, it has reduced all plurality of nuance to a oneness of the same.  Not only does it generalize too broadly but it categorizes just as broadly.

For example, when Bernie uses the phrase “Big Business” or “profits over people” he is thinking about BIG Business, like huge hedge funds and banks that literally run the globe via interest rates and pushing policy agendas (and we all know how important these big banks must be if even Washington DC had to go all in and bail them out during the Great Recession).  Bernie is talking about establishments that pay their CEO 200 times what the average hourly worker makes.  He is talking about multimillion dollar corporations who’s havoc spans the spectrum of ecological and financial excess.

Bernie is not talking about a family that might own 4 hardware stores.  But the masses do not know the difference.  Do the masses not hear the words “big business” and lump all business into this category, castigating business owners as if they are the vampires of the economy?  I am sure some don’t but far too many do.

This current climate has given way to a demonization of business and capital endeavors.  (for my Leftist friends, lets not forget even Lenin harnassed capitalism to pull Russia out of depression via the New Economic Policy in the 20’s…and he took flak from his own party for doing so).

While we should all be angry at the large banks that placed the entire economy at risk a few years ago, and the politicians that continue to empower them, and the FED who’s fiscal policies are in the business of creating bubble after bubble and fair trade deals that have made the West drunk on cheap Chinese imports…the American public has directed their hatred and political angst on the one thing they all deal with daily: a business.

Ironically, business is both the problem, and the solution, since all the funding for any utopia would start with business or the “rich” people who own the businesses.

Bernie is not an idiot.  He knows the economy needs business.  If anything, it needs business to pay for his programs and utopia.  He would not be so stupid as to confuse big business with ALL business, but many of his followers don’t know the difference.

The average person sees a Wal-Mart, a CitiBank, an ACE Hardware, a McDonalds, a Starbucks, a local tire company, or a mom and pop outdoor outfitter that sells experiences on the Ocoee River as one and the same.  These are businesses floating in cash, with lots of top heavy administration who are pillaging the labor of others to get rich.  These businesses can, should and need to do more for the average citizen (if you need a list of what businesses already pay for and their tax rates hit me up and I’ll gladly bore you) and if they don’t do it out of their own volition then the government will pass laws to confiscate it (see, that’s my anarcho-libertarianism coming through).

At least these are the assumptions that negate the particularities of the climates and markets in which a business operates.

Allow  me to offer this illustration as a means of delineating small and large businesses and why placing every business under a generic business category is misleading.

Wal-mart has huge buying power because of their size.  They can singlehandedly negotiate a price with Coca-Cola for its products.  If Coke wants exposure to Wal-Mart customers, then Wal-Mart can pretty much set that table.  So go into Walmart and you can buy a 2 liter Pepsi for $1.25.  Not bad.  However, go into a pizza joint and try to purchase a 2 Liter.  You’ll find the cost could be as high as a dollar or $1.50 more.  Why?

Well, of course, the pizza joint guy wants to rip you off!

Wrong.

Coke doesn’t sell its products at the same price to the smaller buyer as the larger buyer because the smaller buyer doesn’t have as much leverage to drive down the cost of the good.  Leverage meaning customer exposure and sales.  So the small retailer pays MORE than Wal-Mart even though Wal-Mart can actually afford to pay more for the product!  Thus the small guy has to sell it for more to make money and STAY in business.  Even more, its highly likely Wal-Mart can sell for less and make more profit than the guy that sells it for more at a smaller business.

Some people think that you pay more at a pizza place for a soda because of the “convenience” factor, but that’s wrong too.  Why would a pizza place not want to sell you three 2 liters products for $1.25 if it could make a profit?  It  would be dumb to jack a price up just to jack a price up and it wouldn’t be an optimal way to make use of customer traffic if a business could make more money selling 3 cokes rather than 1.

Does the average voter even understand or pause to think about these pricing idiosyncrasies or is everything reduced to “business is bad and wants to rip me off?”

Does the average voter understand that when Bernie says “profits over people” he isn’t discussing the owner of this singular pizza shop…or the family that operates 1 restaurant…but instead he refers to the large corporations that stand behind these franchises or even the large banks that make this small business family dream possible?  Perhaps we should get a list of the good and bad businesses so we can at least arbitrate those morally suspicious too large businesses from the small ones and the small ones from the medium size ones…that way the citizens of America know who to hate and who to encourage.

We need a list of the corporate and independent businesses, the small, medium and large that exist within these facets and we need to pass a law that requires all businesses to post, like a health department score, their type of business so that consumers can know who they are giving their money too and who to hate on Facebook.

We all like David, but Goliath be damned.

Or how about the types and sizes of business?  Are these considered when lighting the passions of the masses with the catch phrases “profits over people” and “big business?”

When Bernie says “business” which one is he talking about and is he being clear to his audience?

Perhaps you didn’t know but there are differences between BIG business, franchised businesses and small independent businesses (not to mention monopolies, trusts or corporations in general).

Franchised businesses can be BIG business but they need not be.

An owner of 1 McDonalds can be an owner of only 1 or an owner of 20.  And there is a difference.  Similarly, a McDonalds may not have an independent owner, it may be owned by the corporation.  Likewise, an owner of a Smoothie King can be an owner of 1 or 20, but you better believe the operating income of a single Smooth King is not in the same ballpark as the operating income of a single McDonalds.  Yet when the government or folks who “feel the Bern” want to enact legislation that businesses pay for…or the National Board of Labor Relations makes rules on salary pay…they do not consider the differences of these vastly different business models , revenue differentiations, their particular markets, or capital flow.

Laws are passed with sweeping generalities.

Votes are won with sweeping generalites.

In addition, franchised businesses, so long as they operate within their franchise agreements, are typically free to set their own operating particulars.  They can set benefit and pay structure, holiday and sick leave ( I know my progressive friends would like this mandated but to do so would require government support either via staffing or subsidization since not all businesses have excess labor from which to draw while folks take months off of work), as well as the way they organize their administrative tasks.

Thus, one franchise can offer lots of cool perks and another, even the same franchise just a different owner, can offer much less.  A franchise is part of a large business, but it isn’t; it’s typically run by a group of people or person who pays a fee to the Brand in order to operate under the Brands business model.   It has a connection to a large business but may not see any financial contributions, by way of profits, from the Brand itself.

Large Businesses, however, often dictate their markets.  They call the shots.  They ARE awash in cash and because of all the cash they can drive the business agenda and MAKE markets move.  (note to readers, all BIG or large business was once a small independent business).  These businesses usually employ hundreds to thousands of employees.  They have lots of capital to spread around if they have made good business decisions (good is a relative definition here since some might call this good a “bad” if it has been exploitative).  These are the big banks and international corporations that you hear about in the media.  The Occupy Movement was about protesting this category of business.  The “average Joe” cannot join this business as an owner.  There is no way to buy into them except via the stock market or if you’re a famous person for whom Starbucks will make an exception.  These businesses offer lots of perks to employees and have such a large work force they can afford the PTO and benefits lots of people earn from them.

Then, there are small independent businesses.  These are “start up” businesses without attachment to a corporate structure.  These businesses begin with an idea and attempt to bring it to the market.  It can be something small like Apple that began in a garage and becomes something much larger or it can be a beauty boutique opened by someone who wants to be their own boss, market the uniqueness of their salon and is willing to take the investment risk that operating a business would incur.

Some small business cost more than others.

In my hometown, I have witnessed multiple restaurants open up with original menus and marketing plans.  These businesses had to find inventory suppliers, determine wages, determine proper inventory usage, configure their books to meet state and federal regulations, develop a marketing plan, etc., all on their own.  There was no corporate entity to help them.  And they had to invest in equipment in order to bring their product to a customer’s table.  Obviously, this costs more than a beauty boutique, but they are both small independent business.

These three types of business are all different.  Each one requires unique particularities to sustain their business model.  Each one has different cash flow, capital costs, employee costs.

The take away is this: NOT ALL business is big business.  NOT ALL business has the same cash.  NOT ALL business owners are millionaires.  Many business owners make enough to pay their bills and provide a better life for their family than they would otherwise…yet they are still well below Obama’s tax increase on couples making $250,000 or more.  Yes, its a real life version of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Business as a category of understanding is much more diverse than this political season has insinuated.  So when Bernie invokes “business” and crowds chant mantras of hate against “business” are all of these even being considered?

Businesses know their market and operating strategies better than government and better than any politician or keyboard warrior.  When foreign elements attempt to lump all business together or create a large paradigm by which every TYPE of business must operate it  creates fissures in the system that may have unintended consequences.

Unfortunately, these consequences cannot be seen until they start to take effect.

When all business is reduced to the same by politicians without any qualification it galvanizes a misplaced hatred toward business in general and creates unrealistic expectations on just how much and in what way businesses can pay for utopian dreams and visions.

Unless, of course, the dream is to have a full confiscation of business at the government level…this may not be too far from the truth.  Not being a conspiracy theorist here…just saying.

This would also be another fantastic way to have a large ruling elitist political class while shrinking the middle class.

These are just a few examples of the things that typify the wide-spread misunderstanding among the masses. These nuances and contextualities extend much further than the price of a Coke or whether a business is independent or corporate, small, medium or large.

They extend to inventory, labor and government regulation.  It extends to intricacies within small, medium and large businesses.  All businesses are different because they inhabit different markets, operate with different philosophies and are at different levels of success or failure.

When politicians fail to teach their adherents the nuances across business climate (or at least tacitly acknowledge these nuances in speeches) they are creating false generalities in order to prop up a false perception that can include every business everywhere.   Further, when politicians tap into the willful ignorance of the masses their crime of misrepresenting business in general, and their exploitation of ignorant voters, is no less egregious than the business that exploits its workers for profit. 

Both are committing sin and both will profit from it…but only one can get voted into office.

This is the production of class warfare at the expense of the truth and its only solution is to change our culture from one of distraction to one of interaction.

So please, do the world a favor.  Turn off FOX NEWS, quit reading Politico as your only news source, don’t drink Chomsky’s kool-aid unless you know why its flavored and don’t believe capitalist fairy tales of infinite production.   And please, when you talk about business or anything else…know what you are talking about.

An uneducated opinion is like an ass…and we all know what comes from those.

 

 

 

Value Voting is Nonsense

value voters

Recently, the Atlantic published a column describing the transition of part of the American voting segment from value voters to voters of nostalgia.  Christians who used to vote based on a candidates position on abortion, gay rights, euthanasia, pro-family, etc., have forgotten those values and are now voting for their identity as Americans.

We have transitioned from being voters of values to voters of identity, voters who want someone to restore order to the chaos we see surrounding us.

America has lost it way!  Prayer is no longer in schools, apple pie is no longer piping fresh from the oven when dad gets home from work, and gasp, football has surpassed baseball as the nations favorite sport!

We need the good ole days when FDR created the New Deal, Ike gave us the interstate system and grew government spending to do so,  JFK nearly began a nuclear holocaust and Lyndon Johnson was creating the Great Society…not to mention air conditioning was a boon in the middle of the 20th century.

We long for the days when women had much lower social standing, fewer people were educated, gay rights was an oxymoron and your kid could get beat up on the play ground without consequence.

Yes!  Let’s make America Great again!

As large groups of people have coalesced around a bombastic candidate in Donald Trump, they have not found unity in his morality or social views.  In fact, they ignore them.  Instead, people have found unity in the awesomeness of days gone by.  The slogan, “Make America Great” indicates both the opinion that right now isn’t great and that in the distant past such greatness can provide a model for future greatness.

This is just as well.  It’s about time we vote what we really believe: voting for values is nonsense.

The Reagan Coalition had historically long legs.  But its step has finally reached its pinnacle and is now on the descent.

For nearly 30 years the Republican Party convinced voters that if they would vote Republican they would be casting their lot with a party that stands up for American Values, for Christian values.

Republicans vowed to protect unborn babies, pursue amendments to Constitutions preserving “traditional marriage,” and keep the war on drugs at a fever pitch.  Republicans would conserve the America of our grandparents and parents, and in turn, would preserve an America that we would recognize as we hand it off to our children.

All of this was nonsense.

It was religious populism garnering votes as the Republican and Democratic party made indistinguishable decisions.

Both parties spent a lot of money.  Both parties started wars and continued conflicts.  Both parties traded in public interest for their electoral interests.  Both parties spoke like Patriots while acting like bastards.

As the value voting mantra swept through our country and continued to foment political action in our churches, it continued to mean nothing while those who voted based on values felt as if they were really doing something.  In fact, they did nothing but cast their lot with people who would no more change a single “value” law then undo the results of the Civil War.

Libertarian voices tried to speak out and be heard.  Large constituencies of younger people, or disillusioned boomers, who tried to draw attention to economic policy or public policy were silenced because libertarian positions were too liberal.

How can you legalize marijuana?

What…you believe people should be able to do with their body parts what they want so long as it doesn’t infringe on your rights?

You don’t want prayer in schools…are you a pagan!?  Of course wanting prayer in schools is the Christian thing to want!

You don’t want to outlaw abortion?!  How can you even sleep at night?

These questions and more were, and are, frequently asked by values voters.

While many of us look around and have seen for decades that agreeing with George W. Bush on abortion had absolutely nothing to do with the way he governed the country, still a stubborn voting segment has thought voting by values would change something.

In similar fashion, even liberals who thought that agreeing with Bill Clinton on social policy would usher in an American utopia were sorely disappointed…and if you ask far left liberals about President Obama, they would say he, like Clinton, has pandered to the political class and not gone far enough to the Left to institute the sweeping change our country needs.

Obama ran on change and a new set of values, yet other than a token gay marriage decision by the Supreme Court, he has continued the policy of war, taxation, free trade, expansive oil discovery and government growth of his predecessor.

As with Republicans, so with Democrats: votes cast for similar values are just that, votes.  Sharing a value with a candidate does not mean they will administer the country as they should.

Republicans did not outlaw euthanasia.  They did not make abortion illegal.  They could not stop gay marriage from becoming law.  They cannot get prayer back in schools.

Sharing a professed value can make them your friend but it shouldn’t make them your candidate.

Democrats have not made good on their single payer intentions.  It took President Obama two terms to finally come around and support gay marriage.  The black community continues to have high crime and incarceration rates, while black youths are the single highest unemployed segment of our society, all under the first black president.

Democrats haven’t come good on their values either…why?

Because values DO NOT MATTER in politics.

This was recently illustrated when I watched John Kasich during a CNN town hall.  Someone asked about his approach to appointing a Supreme Court Justice.  His reply?  He did not want an activist judge but neither would he let his personal opinion about gay marriage influence his decision to appoint a judge who was pro gay marriage.  He said, “it’s the law of the land so we move on.”

In other words, he has his personal conviction, but in a secular politic it’s not a deal breaker because it is not the job of the state to uphold religious norms.  Political life and religious life don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

As for commerce, Kasich said, “I don’t understand why we can’t trade with someone who thinks differently than us.  Like the instance of the bakery and gay couple…In my opinion, its trade, sell them a cup cake and move on.  If you disagree then say a prayer for them, but in my opinion it shouldn’t prevent us from the political activity of commerce.” (my rough paraphrase)

Politics and values at the operative level do not go hand in hand, which is why, the value you need to share with a candidate is not their stance on gay marriage or gay cupcakes.

The value you need to share is their principle of governance.

What animates a person’s political philosophy?  How would they legislate and why?

Values come and go with time, but political principles remain.

This is why our Founding Fathers could have diverse opinions on religion, yet they were bound by a pursuit of liberty and freedom.  This is why Benjamin Franklin could be an agnostic and still unite in brotherhood with George Whitfield, even giving money to his ministry.  This is why Thomas Jefferson could be a Deist who did not believe any New Testament mythology, yet he shared a passion for liberty with Baptists and united with them in pursuing an American nation that would embody liberty (albeit one with its contextual limitations).

Christian values did not unite the Founders of our country.  Social values did not unite our Founders either.  Just ask South Carolina if they shared the same values as New York 200 years ago.

What united the country was a love for liberty, a principle.  This principle does not change even as social moors and interpretations of scripture do.  Either you believe in liberal republicanism or you don’t.  Either you agree with John Locke or you don’t, but such is not predicated on a “value” grounded in any “moral” concern.

Thus, I am glad The Donald has entered the world of politics because he has finally disclosed what so many of us have believed for so long: value voting is nonsense.

When you cast your vote today, consider not voting for someone who shares your morality, but perhaps, someone who shares your political vision for the country.