Thinking About the US Election
Years of campaigning in America have come to an end. Of course, the Constitution of the United States is set up so that there is another federal election in 2 years, so the next campaign will begin… oh, tomorrow or so.
I've observed with detached fascination the vitriolic predictions of doom should one candidate or the other be elected.
Election news coverage has been obsessed with predicting the future, using metrics determining who was “ahead” in “the race.”
The truth is, no one was ahead. There is no race. There’s only an election.
Most everything else is distraction and theater. And an obsession with predicting the future.
Why the obsession with predicting the future?
The obsession with predicting the future is everywhere. Football fans prognosticate how their teams will fare in the post season even before the regular season begins. Weather forecasters tell us what kind of weather to expect months or years from now. Economists use an array of widgets to describe next year's GDP, and newscasters spent untold hours analyzing polls from months ago to describe who will win the election. But why?
I think the obsession is mostly related to fear and uncertainty. Because people have felt so out of control in their lives -their health, their finances, their emotions, their families, their politics - they fret and fret and fret about things past and future. They desire to control the future so they can feel safe and secure.
The solution to fear is the love of God, particularly when employing God's love towards yourself and others. The opposite of fear actually is the kind of love that puts other people first, that is patient and kind, that is not arrogant or rude, that doesn't insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, and does not rejoice in wrongdoing. The kind of love that hopes and endures.
The solution to uncertainty is faith and trust in God's sovereignty and goodness.
The Apostle Paul wrote the church in Rome during a time when really wicked leaders ruled the civilized world. Emperors, Senators, the provincial governors, local kings, government functionaries and everyone else were subject to selfish passions. Yet, the Roman government enforced something of a Great Peace - the longest peace between the world's great powers the world has ever known, until the Post War era. Rome also brutally enforced the enslavement of a third of the Empire's inhabitants, among many other evils.
Amidst this, Paul wrote:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
"Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed and those who resist will endure judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority?
"Then do what is good and you will receive his approval for he is God’s servant for your good.”
To the ancient Roman Christians, that meant emperors like Caligula and Nero were God's servant.
To my American friends, that means President Obama is God’s servant.
To my German friends, that means Chancellor Merkel is God’s servant.
To my Russian friends, that means President Putin is God’s servant.
All of these nation states have federated governments with layers of authorities and designated powers, and each layer is comprised of rulers who are God’s servants.
And whoever wins the election in the United States - or the next election in Germany, or the next election in Russia (rigged though it surely will be), etc.,- will be God’s servant in a system appointed by God.
I have taken comfort in this truth, found in Romans 13, and I hope you do as well.
Be well, love others, and trust in God's sovereignty and goodness.