Why I Voted For John McCain, and Other Political Confessions

Disclaimer: Although I have spent quite a bit of time on this post, it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, so please be patient with the meandering nature of it. Also, since I’ve finally broached the hot-topic subject, please know that comments will be heavily moderated, and if they are unattached to a working email address and a name, they will be deleted. I try to be a benevolent dictator of my little bloggy world but I can get ornery, so please keep the discourse amiable.

I have been rolling a post around in my head for a long time about my feelings about this election, but thankfully Randy Alcorn did a lot of it for me, and much more graciously than I ever could have. I, like him, know that supporting Obama is the “cool” choice. Yet I chose to vote in an uncool manner. My deepest apologies.

I think way too many young evangelicals have been caught up in the “cool” whirlwind started by Brian McLaren and Don Miller and others. I do think that those men fully researched and stated their positions; however I think many are going along with them because, hey, they’re cool. They’re way cooler than Al Mohler. Apologies again to Dr. Mohler, but I don’t think he’d disagree. I once heard him poke fun at himself in a very endearing way about how he didn’t understand cargo shorts. So yeah, he’s not cool, and he’s OK with that.

What I didn’t mention in my post about voting last week is that I was interviewed by that man who was filming for Belgian TV. So perhaps somewhere in Belgium, my face is being shown saying that I would be voting for the McCain/Palin ticket because of its outlined stance on abortion, and, as an issue of secondary importance, that of school choice (another topic for another day).

After I gave the interview, I backed up into my place in line, and noticed that no one talked to me anymore. All the people around me who had previously been so kind and welcoming to the children turned their backs on us and I was left alone. I don’t think it was a coincidence. We’re in North Carolina, where the cities are going for Obama, and the rural areas for McCain. I am an urban weirdo.

Up until four years ago, I was an unenrolled voter. I didn’t like being in a political party…maybe it was an inward rebellion in me that didn’t want to be fenced in. Admittedly, it was probably that same rebellious streak that caused me to register as a Republican. I registered with the party mostly because I wanted to SHOW the Republicans that not all of us vote party line.

I tend to be conservative, but I can’t say that the Republican party reflects my values in a lot of ways. I hate the proud environmental entitlement attitude that the party is famous for. Regardless of what you think of global warming, shouldn’t you be a wise steward? I don’t think that a free-market economy is the answer to all the world’s problems — though I do think that in a true free market, those banks would have been allowed to FAIL; failure is a key part in a free market society, HELLLOOO??!! Ahem. I think Rush Limbaugh is rude and condescending, and does not respect his governing authorities or his fellow man.

(Honestly, I listen to NPR more than Rush, but I don’t donate a penny because during election years they become as one friend so eloquently dubbed it, “Radio Hanoi.” It’s almost comical.)

Barack Obama has gotten a lot of mileage with Christians by saying that he will reduce the number of abortions. However, the Freedom of Choice Act will be one of his first acts as president, according to a 2007 speech at Planned Parenthood. See the links at the end of this post for more information about how those two facts cannot coexist.

I think I was willing to give Mr. Obama the benefit of the doubt until the last debate. When asked about the Born Alive Act, he responded in a silky-smooth denial that he would ever ask a doctor to let a baby die. However, his statement could not be further from the truth. He did just that, and more than once…actually, three times over. Unfortunately, he is unwilling to own up to the implications of those actions. It was all I could do to keep from leaping off the couch. I did yell quite a bit, just ask my husband.

As David and I have rolled these issues around at our kitchen table, we have boiled it down to this credo: vote one way, act another. I know, that seems to make no sense. Here’s what we mean: the if Republican party’s basic reputation is “Cut taxes, provide jobs, and people will pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” and the Democratic party’s basic reputation is “Raise taxes, give handouts to those in need…we feel your pain,” (criminal oversimplification of the issues, I know. But stay with me!) then we agree with both.

I do think, from a Biblical perspective, that work is important, and that the government should do everything in its power to encourage it. I think that actions have natural consequences, and frequently it’s those consequences that are the best teachers. We’re told to work diligently again and again in the book of Proverbs. We’re taught that a man who does not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever. The nation of Israel as well as the early church conducted business, bought and sold, and made their livings in the marketplace.

I also think, however, that “true religion” is found in helping the fatherless and the widow. Feeling people’s pain, as it were. As much as we would like to put a disclaimer on that command, it does not say, “as long as they help themselves,” or “if they show signs of real repentance.” It just says help them.

Over the last few years, our family has experienced “stuff.” Crap, if I may be so unladylike. Things that took David out of work because we needed him. These things were beyond his control. If he’d had a less understanding employer, or if those things had persisted beyond the time that they did, he might be out of a job. What was our saving grace during that time was the church: friends who took seriously the command to “have all things in common” and sacrificed their time and energy to help us out.

However, not everyone has a church community like we do. It is shamefully uncommon.

So in my view, the government attempts to fill in where the church falls short. Because it’s not a personal role, but an institutional one, the efforts fail frequently. A government handout does not accomplish the same results in a poor person’s life as someone taking them in, persistently showing them how to manage in the world, and discipling them (so to speak).

Let me tell you a story that has heavily influenced my opinion on this. In the spring we began attending the church where we are now members. During the summer, I attended a women’s meeting where a young unmarried woman of 20 confessed to the group that she was pregnant. What did the church do? They rallied around her. They tracked down clothes, a job, and provided a mentor for her. She is living with her mother, but I am certain that someone would have taken her in had she needed a place to live.

I strongly feel that the mother and the baby in that situation have a striking advantage over a mom and baby who simply go on welfare, because they are receiving personal care rather than institutionalized care. But sadly the church is not there for many others, which leads to them making what they perceive as the easier “choice” — abortion.

So back to our little credo. I voted for John McCain on Friday, but I also packed up a bunch of stuff to donate to our local crisis pregnancy center the same day (due to the extended nature of our outing, that errand was put off, but I still have the stuff in the van, and the map in my possession, and it will happen). I hate myself for always agreeing that we need to reduce the number of abortions but doing so little about it. I wasn’t going to vote in one way without acting in another.

And to be clear, I think that the way that Republicans are cast as uncaring towards women considering abortion is dreadful. The pro-life movement has always been on the cusp of extending a helping hand to women in a painful place. Yes, there have been notable, disgusting exceptions that are brought to light constantly by the opponents of the movement. But on the whole, the trend is towards careful, considerate care for mother and baby.

At the same time, I think many church-going Republicans think they’ve done enough if they’ve voted for a pro-life candidate. It isn’t enough. Young women need our help.

And then there’s Sarah Palin. Do you think it would have been easier on her to abort little Trig? She didn’t need the hassle of a special needs child. She’s a living, breathing, refreshing example of what the pro-life movement should look like. It means inconveniencing yourself for a little baby who needs you. It means confessing that your older child messed up, got pregnant, and she’s going to have to experience the consequences of her actions, but that you’ll be there to support her every step of the way. It’s not neat and tidy all the time.

And, as if I needed to say it, neither are politics.

9 Responses to “Why I Voted For John McCain, and Other Political Confessions”

  1. Josh and Dana

    You’re my bloggy twin today (though a much more eloquent, funny and apparently faster-typer twin :))Thanks for the thoughts and the time you put into writing it all out. It’s helpful to hear your perspective and gives more foundation to mine.And did you enjoy your coffee this morning? I had to reheat mine like 4 times until it was practically singed.

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  2. Joy

    This is even braver than discussing organic food and alternative medicine (;Maybe next you could tackle spanking.

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  3. Rachael Starke

    Preach it girlfriend. Well, okay, all but the part about the government (which is us until 11/4, after that who knows???) literally compensating for the church’s shortcomings, but that’s a friendly discussion to have at another time, over various beverages, maybe even in person. :)I’ve started my own thinking-out-loud-process over at my own little corner of the blogosphere. It’ll take me longer than one post though. My mind is a lot less orderly than yours! 🙂 And I’m really sorry that no one talked to you in line. But hey, at least you don’t live here, where people’s garages and cars are getting vandalized if they put a Yes on 8 sign up on their lawn.

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  4. Rachael Starke

    Oh, and FWIW, you turned me on to NPR and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and they turned me off it, at least until December. 🙂

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  5. Kelly

    Hey Rachael, 🙂 I only meant that if the church was doing its job properly, the government wouldn’t have to do much in this arena. Is that what you’re getting at? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure we agree on that.

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  6. kate o.

    i enjoyed reading this. i agree with your description of the “cool whirlwind.” the topic swirling around our house at the moment is “to vote or not to vote,” though i’d say we are leaning on the “vote” side. even if we do appear a bit uncool.

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  7. michelle

    Kelly, thanks! I think that you wrote down your thoughts well and it is respectful. I hear you on the church’s shortcomings….we wouldn’t have survived our last few years without our church and that in and of itself is a blessing and made our load a bit lighter. I hear you on Palin. As a parent with a child with special needs. It is wonderful to see little Trig with her on the campaign trail. It breaks my heart that nearly 90% of Tullie’s “friends” (for the lack of a better word) aren’t here because of a mother’s choice. We need more Tullie’s and Trig’s no matter how hard it is. Their smiles are worth a thousand words! 🙂

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  8. Anonymous

    Indeed – government has stepped in to the role that the church has left as a vacuum….and look at the history of financing these things.We now point to the tithe as 10%, and think we do well when we meet that “standard”. But Israel’s definition was 23%. 10% for the priests and Levites (church), and that seems to still be known in some Christian circles. However, it is no coincidence that the remaining two tithes have been taken over by goverment and with them the financing of the care for those Kelly describes (sacred holidays and widows and orphans).The church has let the government move into proper roles for the church, and with it now claims the financing of those things via taxes.So it is both church and government that have lost their way.$.02Pop

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