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CURMUDGEONRY
Expecting too Much from a President
We're electing a President, not calling a pastor.

by Barnabas
October 20, 2004

I have my choice for President, and have had for some months now, but I’m coming to realize that I do not make my decision for the reasons so highly touted by the campaigns and the media:

    • Vote for the one who agrees with you on the issues!
    • Vote for the one with whom God agrees!
    • Vote for the right side of a single issue!
    • Vote for the best person!
    • Vote to change the country!
    • Vote to change the world! Or, even scarier,
    • Vote to save the world!
    • Vote for the Kingdom of God!

And, from independents and third parties, don’t vote to elect, but

    • Vote to Make a Point!

It makes sense to vote for the candidate you believe to be the most capable and competent, because what we are doing is filling an office. In firing and appointing, at least when we are thinking straight, we emphasize capability and competence: Are the candidates capable of doing the job? If so, which one is the more competent, able to do it better? Since an election is a mass attempt to fill an office, the same questions apply.

Even when we do it right, it’s risky business. An employment or appointment done right can go bad; so can an election. But at least, by doing it right, we did not set ourselves up to lose by imposing artificial and irrelevant conditions on the process. The loss I’m talking about is not the loss of the election, but the loss of its integrity.

In a vote for President of the United States, all of the reasons to vote as stated in the first paragraph are artificial and irrelevant. I spent significant column space during this campaign on "phony issues." I could have spent an equivalent amount on phony motives. The problem extends beyond issues and motives, however, to every inflated claim by either candidate, and every attack based on an overt or hidden theological agenda, from either side. I know several men and women personally who individually know a lot more Christian theology than both candidates together, but they aren’t running for President. In contrast, it’s unclear that either candidate knows enough theology to teach an adult Sunday-School class.

That is okay with me. A democratic election in a free society is for the purpose of electing leaders who are capable of directing the governmental business of the society. Like it or not, these are political tasks in the primary meaning of the term: politics is "the art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs." (Dictionary.com)

Government is the work of professional politicians, which both major candidates are. They are not to be confused with political hacks, who resemble professionals as little as quack physicians resemble alumni of major medical schools. The electorate is divided as to which is the more capable and competent. At least, I hope that is the reason for the division.

I expect the President of the United States to be among the most capable and competent politicians in the world, able to face and make extreme decisions in an informed manner, and to manage the executive branch of the government with efficiency, frugality, and style. I do not expect him to be my pastor. I expect professional clergy in the office of pastor, and a professional politician in the office of the President.



About the Author:
When Barnabas was young, most conservative Christians believed in the separation of church and state. He is still a conservative Christian, and still believes in the separation of church and state.


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