Category Archives: Opinion

A Bug’s Election: When the elephant and donkey look more like grasshoppers

The biggest objection by allies to voting for a Third Party is the “wasted vote” argument — the idea that if you vote for someone who will not win, then the vote does not count.

Join any third party and merely suggest that another person consider voting for a third party candidate and you will hear, ad nauseum, “I don’t want to waste my vote.”

This election appears unique in recent decades in that even the major parties aren’t unified in their support of their nominees. The “Bernie or Bust” movement remains strong even after Sanders endorsed Clinton, and many wondered right up to the nomination whether the GOP would actually nominate Trump, who stands against so much of their platform.

In 2004, Barack Obama said, “I’m not George Bush,” or something equivalent so often that it seemed like he’d forgotten whom he was running against, basing much of his campaign on low satisfaction with the GOP, and 8 years later, based on social media trends, the primary platform of both parties seems to be, “Vote for the lesser of 2 evils.” But is that our lot?

This trend reminds me of the grasshoppers in Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. They were bullies who knew that they only had power if they could keep the masses of ants to see themselves as individuals instead of a collective whole. Once the ants realized they could easily overpower the bullies if they stood together, the grasshoppers fled, realizing the masses had seen through their ruse.

But what if the masses voted with their principles instead of out of fear? What if each individual chose candidates, both executive and legislative, from the entire slate of available candidates instead of choosing from only 2 out of obligation?

Personally, I haven’t chosen yet. Now that the slate has been finalized, I have some time to look over the records and positions of all of my available candidates, and I’m confident that my votes will represent multiple parties. And unlike the above linked article, I’m not saying anyone should automatically vote for one of the smaller parties. Rather, vote your values and principles.

If you believe that Trump’s show of strength and populist positions outweigh his open mockery of the handicapped and most other minorities, or that you like Pence enough to allow Trump into the White House in morbid hope that somehow the VP becomes president, then vote Trump.

But if you normally vote Republican but see Trump as the catalyst that will destroy the party’s credibility in the future, look elsewhere.

If you agree with 2016 Barack Obama that Clinton is the most qualified presidential candidate ever, even though she needed the DNC to manipulate the primaries to ensure Sanders didn’t get the votes he needed, vote Clinton.

But if you see her as a corporate sellout who looks more stereotypically Republican than Trump and consider her support of a wall on the Mexican border only a year ago hypocritical to her open position on immigration today, look elsewhere.

Johnson has the next largest support base, and if you agree with the Libertarian ideals, not just on the off chance that enough disgust with the Big 2 could get an independent candidate elected, vote Johnson. 

But if Libertarianism just looks like thinly veiled anarchy to you, look elsewhere.

From there, work down the list, from Stein and the Greens to the many smaller parties.

When candidates get a landslide vote, they see it as a mandate, not, “Wow! The other major candidate was terrible! That’s the only explanation!” Is that the message you want to send or not? You have the opportunity to express your values, not only in the voting booth, but via email and social media. Say what you really believe, and don’t let anyone bully you into voting for them.

As a Christian, I believe that Christ is ultimately in charge, and that He can and always does use broken people to accomplish His will for us as individuals, nations, and the world, even when that requires calamity to wake us up, so I don’t have to be afraid of the election results. I can vote confidently, using my conscience and research to choose the best candidate in each race, and if my candidate loses (I’ve never had 100% success, even when pulling a party lever), I know that Jesus is neither surprised nor worried, so if the One in charge isn’t worried, why should I?

Or are we just addicted to the same old ideas?

What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

This is a chart showing trends in arrests for ...
This is a chart showing trends in arrests for drug abuse violations divided by age groups from 1970-2003. Deutsch: gestapeltes Säulendiagramm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TED Talks inspire and frustrate me. Here’s a classic example. While I’m passionately against drug abuse and have seen it destroy too many lives close to me, I also believe in addressing it effectively instead of playing Security Theater. Portugal has already tested the science and succeeded, so why would we not follow suit? Because it’s counterintuitive change, and enough Americans distrust scientists and Europe to fight it.

At the same time, we can’t oversimplify (See the article below.) It’s not an easy solution, but it seems worth exploring. Let’s start by looking at Portugal and taking it from there.

What do you think? Is this completely crazy, or just crazy enough to work?


Incidentally, I developed and am implementing part of the solution with Journey Groups.

Fallible Opinion

Whiz Comics #22 (Oct. 1941), featuring Captain...
Whiz Comics #22 (Oct. 1941), featuring Captain Marvel and his young alter-ego, Billy Batson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a Superman cape hanging in my office, because I put on a costume and save people, and I always want to remember to focus on people in need, but I’m probably more like Shazam than Superman, because when I’m speaking theologically, I’m confident what I’m saying, because although I’m not speaking Ex Cathedra, as long as I can back up what I’m saying with a coherent interpretation of Scripture, I’m strong, but when I’m speaking personal opinion, I’m Billy Batson.

But I believe that, as a citizen of the United States, I have a duty to express an informed opinion. Of course, the Internet is a mixed blessing, since “informed” takes on new meaning with a virtually unlimited amount of information on any topic. So when I express an opinion, not only do I consider that opinion fallible and subject to change, but I’m also usually looking for counterpoints to better understand the issue, which is rarely as black-and-white as proponents of both sides of the issue would like to make it. I’m also terrified that someone might see my opinion on something and, because I’m a pastor, turn against Jesus or the church because they disagree with my opinion, which I’m just as likely to disagree with in the future.

So with that in mind, I submit my opinions here as just that, opinions, subject to change, likely wrong, based on my limited experience, and encouraging alternate viewpoints.