Guest blogpost by Cyber Millenial
I grew up a very sheltered, very conservative life. Most of the people around me shared my faith and my views.. Whether that was accidental or by design, I’m not sure. However, my parents were thinkers and teachers. We were always talking about issues, reading books and articles, and thinking about grand ideas.
One of these grand ideas was the place of religion in society. As a person of faith, I do not think my belief should be relegated to the back seat of my life like an errant child who can’t stop arguing over how far to scoot over. However, I also do not believe that my faith is an unquestionable standard of how I should vote. Let me explain.
As I have previously mentioned, I am a gamer. One of the games I have played is Civilization. In this game, there are units called “Fanatics.” They are only available when a culture is “Fundamentalist” or “Totalitarian.” They are cheap and powerful for the early stages of the game. They can be unpredictable, though. They use their fervor and intense dislike — or hate — of people and ideologies to spur their actions on. One of the things they’ll do is sacrifice themselves for things that may or may not need that sacrifice. This isn’t to say that strong belief or strong feelings are wrong or dangerous in and of themselves. But when we start acting because of our emotions alone, we get into trouble.
I’ve had a little more free time than usual this summer and I have been delving deep into my YouTube algorithms. I watched a video where Dave Rubin interviews Ben Shapiro. It’s a long video but well worth the watch. He discusses the tension in Western Civilization between faith and reason. He said something that inspired this article and encapsulated what I’ve been trying to put into words for a while now.
One issue I have with the current GOP is the factionalization. Every person has their ‘pet cause’ and their reason for voting red. One person won’t vote for a candidate if he has iffy views on abortion. Nothing else decides that. One person won’t vote for a candidate if she doesn’t talk about getting rid of Common Core. Another will refuse to consider a candidate unless they share the same interpretation of the Constitution. These are just a few examples from my local party. This factionalization is part of the fallacy that feeds “My faith votes.” and other similar groups. The thing of it is, my faith doesn’t vote. My faith informs my reason. My reason votes. When I go to a GOP meeting, I’m not going to church.
Let me repeat that. When I go to a GOP meeting, I’m not going to church. I am a person of faith. I go to church for my faith. I don’t go to my political meetings for it. I go to a political meeting to change my world based on tenets and principles my faith has taught me. There is an extra step between my altar and my ballot box.
Why? Because I am a thinking human being. I am not ruled by my emotions. I can step back and say, “Will this be a good choice in the long run?” If it won’t, I can calm down and consider the correct choices.
Emotional decision making leads to sloppy mistakes. Anybody can come in, say the right words, whip up a frenzy and set the fanatics off on a crusade. It takes a thinking voter to stop, consider the principles and plans, and go, “that seems reasonable but it might have completely unintended consequences.” Let’s take the time to sit down, talk about it, and come to a well-reasoned course of action.
One current example of this for me is the feud between conservative comedian Steven Crowder and liberal Vox journalist Carlos Maza. If you watch any political or news commentators on YouTube, you’ll see these two and their faces. As a comedian, Crowder uses language meant to needle. It did the job. Maza was so upset that he reported Crowder to YouTube. YouTube came out with a new set of guidelines for “hate speech” (which could be another whole article in and of itself) and started banning and demonetizing channels based on single words or images. Some of these were used in reference to actual historical usage, some were discussions of current news events in which the word was mentioned, and in a couple cases, the words themselves weren’t used but their nearest neighbors.
Mr. Maza was upset that one of the news channels he followed was hit in YouTube’s purge. Correctly so. However, instead of being apologetic that his actions may have caused this or reflective about wise next steps, he has said that because the man who was picking on him is still broadcasting on YouTube, his crusade didn’t go far enough.
When anyone acts with their emotions or even their faith alone, there is a disconnect between their actions and the consequences. Like that in-game fanatic, they say, “I will act and let the chips fall where they may. If this is where I fall, let me be remembered.” This leads to unnecessary effort in non-tactical areas in a bull rush, leaving no capital or energy for the actual, current tactical strategies. The other thing it leads to is dissent and more factionalization.
The “my faith votes” movement bothers me not only because it is emotionally based and tends to create fanatics, but because it is an exclusionary movement. Only the “faithful” are welcome to vote. What happens when a voter has a different faith? How close to “my faith” does a voter need to come to be a part of the local or general community of voters? Where is the “Apostles’ Creed” of the party?
Isn’t that the platform? And even then, nobody requires you to agree with every point of it. And intentionally, nothing on that platform references specificity in faith. There are at least three groups of people that agree mostly with us on issues and whose members might be willing to join the community of active party members except for one glaring thing. They have been told either explicitly or implicitly, that they can’t be part of our community. They have been explicitly told they are ‘other’.
We don’t have to agree with everything a candidate says to vote for them. Likewise, we really don’t need to agree with anything beyond the basics to work with the party.
If we want to be an effective, relevant party, we need to welcome the widest number of people who mostly agree with the platform. Doesn’t scripture say, and didn’t Reagan echo that we need to have a “big tent” and then stretch out the tent pegs more still? I say ‘mostly’ when it comes to the platform, because the platform is an actual living document and not all current party members agree with all of it. (Spoiler alert: I don’t.)
By inviting people into the party rather than excluding them, we solve two of our biggest problems: voter numbers and active members. In many counties in our state, it’s the same group of “us four and no more” that has been running the party for years. These people are tired, burned out and frustrated at the lack of progress. To solve this, we merely need to open the door a little wider and loosen the grip on the wagon’s reins just a little.
But maybe that’s the point….
Thoughts and views expressed in this guest post are not necessarily the views of the editor.