On Tuesday, November 8, nearly 120 million of our fellow citizens went to the polls in order to cast their vote in the general election, which included the presidential race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton (along with numerous third party candidates). This number represents slightly more than half of the registered voters in this nation. Through a wild election night that witnessed several swings back and forth between the candidates and the conventional wisdom that had been suggested by polling data turned on its head, we eventually (at around 2:30 am) had a winner declared: Donald Trump. Here are few thoughts on the election.
- For the second time in 16 years, it seems as though the winner of the popular vote in the nation will lose in the Electoral College (EC), the constitutional mechanism for selecting the president. Some are calling for the EC’s abolishment, but we would be unwise to do so. The EC actually provides those voters in smaller states and nonurban contexts to have a voice in the process, in addition to forcing presidential candidates to acknowledge the views and needs of those citizens. To abolish the EC is to essentially allow a handful of very large cities (e.g., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, and so on) to choose the president. It doesn’t take a political scientist to know the perspectives of citizens in urban areas differ dramatically from those in nonurban settings. The wisdom of the Founders remains impressive even after 229 years.
- Though it did not receive as much national attention as the presidential race, several states had ballot initiatives regarding marijuana, physician assisted suicide, the death penalty, and the minimum wage.
- Four states approved the legalization of recreational marijuana use (bringing the total of states up to eight, plus Washington, DC). Another three states approved medicinal marijuana, bringing that total up to 29.
- Colorado voters, by a roughly 2 to 1 margin, approved physician assisted suicide in that state, bringing the number of states with some form of this up to six. Interestingly, the single most opposed group to physician assisted suicide is physicians. This should tell us something.
- In terms of the death penalty, voters in Nebraska reinstated that sentence after the legislature had removed it. Voters in Oklahoma approved a measure that would give the state more leeway in terms of what methods it can use in executions. California even approved of the death penalty by defeating a measure that would have abolished it and approving a measure that speeds up the process after the sentence has been decided. As believers, we should recognize that the death penalty was instituted by God in the Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9:5-6), and it exists because of the incalculably serious nature that comes with the murder of an image-bearer of God. Of course, this doesn’t negate our responsibility to carry out the sentence in a just and humane manner (including making sure, to the best of our ability, that those who are sentenced are guilty).
- This election has revealed and put on display the sinfulness of the human heart. Many are reporting out how certain minority groups are being subjected to all kinds of unloving, hate-filled speech (though some of those are being falsely reported). I am hearing from my non-Anglo fellow pastors around the state of how this is happening to people in their congregations. However, these comments are not new to the days following the election – they have been being uttered for a long, long time (my son Isaac has witnessed this kind of behavior at his school on numerous occasions, directed at Hispanic students). The result of the election seems to have emboldened some to just be more open about what already exists in their hearts. We must stand united as believers and condemn any and all such speech as being contradictory to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Most of all, the new administration, as well as all of the members of government at every level and our nation as a whole, desperately needs our prayers. Scripture commands us to pray for our leadership (I Tim. 2:1-4). I was very thankful for all those who came out this past Wednesday evening to engage in corporate prayer for our government officials, and I hope that this spirit of prayer continues to characterize us as a church.
Just something to think about…