Your Vote, Your Conscience
Other Options in the 2016 Presidential Election
Your conscience is a precious thing.
Did you know the New Testament talks about the conscience thirty times? And in all those instances, the emphasis is on treating the conscience as immensely valuable (whether your own, or the conscience of another). God’s word speaks of the value of “a good conscience” (Acts 23:1; I Timothy 1:5; I Peter 3:16, 21), of “a clear conscience” (Acts 24:16; I Timothy 3:9; II Timothy 1:3; Hebrews 13:8), and of obeying or abstaining “for the sake of conscience” (Romans 13:5; I Corinthians 10:28). In fact, the blood of Christ is said to “purify our conscience” (Hebrews 9:14).
So what if you’re one of the millions, maybe tens of millions, who cannot in good conscience, vote for either of the major party candidates next month? Sure, you will hear lots of talk about “wasting your vote” and having to settle for “the lesser of two evils”. Yep, you will be inundated with interesting rationales and popular ‘spin’ in an attempt to entice you to one side or the other. But at the end of Election Day, it’s your vote…and your conscience.
So what can you do if your conscience is bristling even now?
Here are three options you may want to consider before you head to the polls in November:
A “Third Party” Choice. While it is rare to have a national officeholder who is not affiliated with one of the two major parties, third party candidates have had some success in U.S. political history. The Libertarian, Green, and Constitution parties have presidential candidates on all or most state ballots nationwide. But remember, as with any election and any candidate, you have to do your homework. Odds are you won’t agree with everything a candidate espouses. And every candidate has his or her weaknesses. But prayerful, thoughtful consideration will help you find the tipping point of your conscience and whether a “third party” candidate is for you.
A “Write-In” Choice. Did you know Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy all enjoyed success as write-in candidates in presidential primary elections? 43 states currently allow “write-in” candidates to be submitted on their ballots. A simple internet search of “write-in campaigns 2016” will help you find an individual you might want to back.
A “None of the Above” Choice. If after careful consideration you cannot support any candidate for President, then don’t. Go to the polls on Election Day and cast your vote for everyone and everything you can support (even if it’s very qualified support). Not casting a vote is not a sin. You are not being insubordinate to “governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). Your conscience is more precious than a fully filled-in ballot. But remember, not voting should always be a “worst case scenario” practice, never an ‘easy out’.
Naysayers will surely argue such options will make little to no difference. They are incorrect. In some way, let a friend or family member, a neighbor or a co-worker, someone in line or online, know what you’re going to do this November. You could even do that by sharing this article. If enough people speak up, change really can ‘go viral’.
Remember this: whichever option you choose, your decision will send a message, one way or another. If the outcome of this election really is inevitable (that is, going to one of the major party candidates), then maybe sending the message, “neither, please”, is precisely what our nation needs to hear.
And in the end, whomever God allows in the White House (cf. Daniel 2:21; 4:17; Romans 13:1), your life as a citizen of the U.S. and as a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20) will go on…and with a clear conscience to boot.