Last week I voted. At least I thought I did. I voted by fax, and apparently the bottoms of all the faxes got cut off because either my fax machine or the voting office’s fax machine can’t handle paper as long as the Florida ballot (8.5×17). So yesterday I mailed it in from Canada, which means my ballot will count but won’t get there for over a week after the election. I have few illusions that it will swing the vote or that they will still be counting votes ten days after, but crazier things have been known to happen in Florida elections.
I’ll admit I wasted my vote. After all, a vote for any but the two main candidates is a wasted vote, right? Perhaps living in Canada has given me the strange idea that other parties are legitimate votes, and that if you don’t like the two main candidates, you simply vote for someone else. A true wasted vote would have been for my favorite candidate, Evan McMullin. Apparently Florida got tired of counting votes for Mickie Mouse (who will likely have another strong year), and now doesn’t count any write-ins that are not officially registered. McMullin missed the cut, so I decided I couldn’t in good faith cast my vote straight into the circular file.
But I did vote, and I didn’t have to close my eyes and hold my nose as I did it. If enough of my countrymen did the same thing, today could get very interesting.
So why did I vote for someone who has no chance of winning? It comes down to leadership, so I thought I’d explain myself on the Back Row Leader. A few quick factors I considered, and then my primary concern:
- You cannot be a leader without curiosity. Leaders are readers, and safety is found in an abundance of counsellors (Prov 11:14). Trump has an appalling lack of curiosity.
- Both candidates are strategic and calculating, and they have a long record of getting ahead in either the political arena or the business arena by negotiating, compromising and telling parties what they need to hear. We don’t often see the real Clinton behind her carefully-scripted responses, and Trump has strung along a lot of dissimilar supporters by the use of innuendo and vague platitudes that they can freely conclude that he is one of them. This includes evangelicals.
- Thanks to wikileaks and the many investigations, we know more of Clinton than we want to. But the lack of knowledge about Trump scares me. Why won’t he release his taxes? Why won’t he say anything negative about Putin? He hasn’t established any reason for me to give him the benefit of the doubt.
To be honest, all of these are minor factors. My primary concern is character.
In every leadership development program I’ve run, I’ve started with the premise that if you develop someone with bad character, you enable their abuse of power. How much bigger a concern when you’re talking about the most powerful office on the planet!
We know both have failing marks in morality, but there’s one distinction for me. Character is particularly important if there is no track record or experience to tell us how someone is going to lead or make decisions.
And character is critical when one candidate so clearly relies on instincts. That kind of leader can be erratic, wear out followers who jump at his whims and build dependence on him as the sole problem solver. With no clear ties to either party, Trump will chart his own course, whether it was what he said in his campaign promises or not.
That’s why character is my number one factor. A president with bad character who goes with gut instinct is a scary proposition.
Let me close with a word to my fellow evangelicals. It’s one thing to recognize the flaws of both candidates but pragmatically decide you need to cast your vote for one or the other in spite of the character issues. It’s another to change your beliefs because of the candidates. If you spoke out against Bill Clinton’s morality, then you need to do the same with Trump. To decide that character is no longer important because this time the candidate is in your party is disingenuous hypocrisy. I was sickened to see an article in Christianity Today online that says evangelical Christians have been doing just that. Evangelicals are now the single group least likely to vote based on morality! As Ed Stetzer points out, that’s the textbook definition to selling your soul.
I’m praying for our country today, but I’m also praying for fellow believers who are facing an agonizing decision.