I am a typical millennial. November 8th, 2016 marked only the second presidential election in which I was eligible to vote, and the first presidential election in which I was adequately informed in my vote.
Four years ago, I watched about thirty minutes of one of the presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, I googled the platform issues for each candidate the night before election day, and I eventually voted based on the party preference of my family. Adulting fail.
In 2016, I decided to put on my big girl pants and become an informed voter. I began each morning with a cup of coffee (not relevant to politics) and an email that skims the daily news for me, I drove to work while listening to David Greene, Steve Inskeep, and Renee Montagne on NPR’s Morning Edition, and I used my newfound knowledge to engage in lively conversations with peers regarding political and social issues. I was ready.
Or so I thought.
But the more I learned about the refugee crisis, the disparity between police and community, and the terrorist attacks worldwide, the more I struggled to decide. Much to my dismay, knowing about the issues (and even understanding a good number of them) didn’t equate to me discerning what I think about them.
I not only had to know the issues, I had to know myself.
In an effort to find a decision, and in typical millennial fashion, I took the “I Side With” quiz online. A few questions into the quiz, my head rose from over the computer screen and I stared into space, puzzled by my lack of confidence. Despite my cerebral understanding, I had very little ethical discernment on many major political platforms.
Fiscal issues really threw me a curveball. How should I know what sort of health care works best? I only started paying for my own health care 3 years ago, and I can barely remember the difference between a PPO and HMO. How should I know if it is better to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to fund social programs or to lower taxes on the wealthy in order to encourage job growth through big businesses?
Since apparently ISideWith.com couldn’t answer these questions for me, I went back to square one: know myself.
- I’m a Christian—I try to follow Jesus’ teachings about what is right and wrong.
- I was born and raised in California—I appreciate diversity and I fear the disparity between the rich and poor.
- I went to high school and college in Wisconsin—I understand the conservative working class.
- I have travelled to third world countries—I have a heart for caring for the poor.
These values posed many contradictions, though.
Jesus taught us to care for the widow, the orphan, the poor. Multiple times when new communities formed around Jesus’ teachings, they relied on one another for the wellbeing of all. Democrats support these values through funding social programs. On the other hand, most modern day Christians (at least in my circles) seem to be Republican, and generously donate to social organizations of their choice.
Jesus taught that we should turn away from sin—a Biblical word that translates to “miss the mark”. Jesus, and teachers trained by him, even list actions and practices that qualify as sin (you’ve probably heard that homosexuality makes this list). These teachers also wrote that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That means I miss the mark. Daily.
And just because I hold to Jesus’ list of “what misses the mark,” does that mean I should vote for laws (like against same sex marriage) that force others to hold to that same list also? I struggle with this… and admit that I don’t have all the answers.
When I started to “feel the Bern”, I was able to get on board with most fiscal and social democratic platforms, all except one: abortion. Was I actually going to vote for a candidate that supports the legalization of abortion? You see, this is the one issue in which I have always had complete confidence in my stance. I firmly believe life starts at conception, life that is knit together by God.
You know the end of the story, I voted for a democrat.
I read enough heart-wrenching articles about mothers in high-risk pregnancies with babies guaranteed to die at or before birth and I decided I have no place determining what is right or wrong in such a tragic situation. I talked to enough democrats that overall don’t condone abortions either and that believe they have logical ways to reduce the rate. This issue still challenges me. I still believe life begins at conception. But ultimately I realized that no matter what party, no one really advocates for murdering the unborn. No one finds it ideal or trivial to interrupt the miraculous process that brings a human into the world.*
I read enough articles about how Hillary wasn’t the only government official with an email problem, and I decided to trust her. Maybe I got a tad bit feminist. Maybe I just couldn’t stand Trump’s disrespectful rhetoric. But whatever the reason, whatever the vote, what was important was the venture.
On November 8th, 2016, I better understood the issues, but more importantly, I better understood myself.
*Did my sentiments in this paragraph challenge you? Shock you? Here’s another gal with her thoughts on what being pro-life means to her.
This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on government and politics from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.