Doing the Research

Election season is upon us!

I’ve been getting the usual pre-recorded phone calls and mailers pretty consistently over the past couple of months. They start out telling me why I should vote for a certain candidate. I’m OK with these. There is usually a website or contact information that allows me to do some research of my own. But then, it gets close to Election Day. Their strategy changes… for the worse.

Suddenly, I’m getting direct mailers from various parties telling me why I shouldn’t vote for the other “bad” guy. Instead of telling me how awful the other candidates are, tell me why I should vote for your candidate! If these personal attacks are any indication of your candidate’s methods, then I’m not interested. Both of the major parties are guilty of this in the current election, so I’m not taking sides here, or accusing any one party. Some argue that the other side started it. Fine. That doesn’t mean that you have to be childish enough to continue it! Just once, I’d like to see someone take the high road. Better yet, I’d like to see a candidate publicly renounce the use of such tactics by their own party. Sure, they complain about the use of those “smear campaigns” by the other side, but they don’t say boo when their own party does it.

Statesmen used to have honest debates. They did not stoop to personal attacks or petty name-calling as modern day politicians and parties do. They chose to make their case and win based solely on the merits of their argument, and not because they made the opposition look bad. Of course, that means that you have to know your subject. You have to have real, concrete beliefs that you can specifically define when asked. It is much easier just to make the other side look bad, I’ll admit. But all that does is weaken your own position. It gives the impression that your position is indefensible.

Truthfully, it takes very little time and effort for us to do some cursory research of our own, rather than relying on the ads and mailers. Most candidates now have websites, and the local candidates who do not, are usually more than willing to talk to you by phone or in person. In about fifteen minutes I can look over a candidate’s website and usually figure out whether or not they are qualified. It’s even easier in person.

Two questions will give you a world of information. What is the purpose of government? Where do rights come from? It sound simplistic, I know, but think about it for a moment. The purpose of government is to protect our rights. Our rights come from our Creator, God. If a candidate can answer these two questions correctly, then they will likely stay within the boundaries of both God’s law and the Constitution during their term of service in civil government.

I’ve only rarely seen these two questions addressed on a candidate’s website. But just a bit of reading on their goals and plans if elected will show whether they intend to stay within the boundaries of authority laid out for civil government first in the Scriptures, and secondarily in the federal and state Constitutions. If their plans include things outside of their limited scope of authority, then I know that they are not worth electing. If their plans fall within those boundaries, then I know that it’s worth looking deeper.

Does this make it hard to find a worthy candidate? Most assuredly! There are times when there is no one qualified running for a particular office, and it that case, I abstain from voting for any of the candidates. Some would say that in that case we have to just choose the lesser of two evils, but I’d remind them that Charles Spurgeon said, “Of two evils, choose neither.”

There are two points that I hope I’ve made with this post.

First, to the politicians and political organizations, stop throwing the mud at your opponents. You cannot make yourself look better by making them look worse. It only casts a shadow on your own moral character. I’ll be very blunt here, if you can only get elected by making your opponent look bad, then you are a pretty poor option yourself.

Second, to the people, take a little time and do some research. Visit websites and make some phone calls. Don’t be afraid to vote for a third party or write-in candidate if you have to. Don’t be afraid to refrain from voting for any of them if necessary. We cannot expect Godly government if we do not elect Godly men.

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