Dan Phillips at the Biblical Christianity blog regurgitates the same old tired anti-third party voting arguments in his post, Biblical Christianity: Go third-party? Or don't vote?. I'll try to make this as clear again:
1. I start with the most popular, and yet sadly most foolish and Biblically absurd argument: "lesser of two evils." It never ceases to astonish me that any Christian who has, and has read, and believes a Bible containing Romans 3:23 and 7:14-25 and James 3:2a finds this a compelling argument. Every vote for a mere son of Adam is a vote for the lesser of two evils. There are no exceptions! It doesn't matter who your candidate is! He is limited intellectually, spiritually, morally, and dynamically. He will not always know the right thing to do nor the right way to do it. Even when he does know, he will not always do it. Even when he tries, he will not always succeed. So if you're going to think this through like a Christian, you must make your decision on some other basis.I wonder if Dan excuses his pastor or other church leaders on the same basis? Given a choice between pastors, would he settle for the lesser evil? Is he willing to settle for someone who demonstrates character and leadership qualities in every other way, but happens to be an abortion doctor? I wonder what he does with someone like Ray Boltz? And to use James 3:2 in this context is twisting the meaning of the verse to fit a situation not as it is originally used. Someone else I read on another blog tried to make the point that so long as Jesus isn't running for office there's always a lesser evil. Thankfully, Jesus isn't politicizing anything.
Voting isn't a right, it's a privilege given by government. Merriam-Webster's defines it as "a usually formal expression of opinion or will in response to a proposed decision". It's a sign of giving one's consent to the government, and for that reason alone it should be obvious why dictatorial regimes use it. So, far from being foolish or Biblically absurd, a vote is a serious personal matter which represents trust and shouldn't be cast for anyone based solely upon their electability.
The point is to vote the best candidate, whoever that may be, whatever party they may belong to, without regard to viability. In this instance, it's to vote for someone who has sound values and principles. The two party cartel drives the lesser evil thinking, particularly so with Republicans, although some Democrats have their opportunity as well. They love the lesser evil argument because it plays right into their scheme.
The fact is that people do have a choice, but politicians, the media and even misguided Dan want them to fix their attention on winning elections. To give consent to the lesser evil is to lose the argument, and I'm disappointed to see Christians do it. The point isn't about winning numbers, and there are many scriptures to reference in that regard. It has everything to do with principle, but I've come across so many Christians who think this way it doesn't surprise me anymore. This sort of pragmatic, lesser of evils thinking is part of the reason the institutional church is largely ineffectual in its primary mission.
2. Next, when I grew up a little, I wrapped my mind around the fact that politics is the art of the possible. It is not a decision about whether to murder someone or not. It is a question of moving the ball in the right direction. So I have three quarterbacks vying for my vote. One absolutely will move the ball far in the wrong direction. Another will move it a bit in the wrong direction, a bit in the right direction, and the net will be a small but significant move towards my goal. Or at the very least prevention of a net move in the wrong direction. The third? He claims that he will instantly make a touchdown. But there is one big problem: he does not actually belong to either team on the field. So he must score this promised touchdown in spite of three fatal roadblocks: (A) every player on the field will be trying to take him down; and (B) no player on the field will run defense for him; and (C) most of the people in the stands will boo and throw things at him. So in the end, he will accomplish nothing.The bird gets uglier. The analogy doesn't fly and is a ridiculous one, particularly in light of his previous argument on the lesser evil. He contradictorily makes the statement that "politics is the art of the possible" and then sets up an analogous scenario demonstrating how it isn't. Sometimes I wonder how people arrive at their theology.
At this point, the day before the election, no one can say who will be elected, or who won't. Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party candidate I support) is on the requisite state ballots to be a possible winner, even though the chances reflected in the polling are long. How does it matter what he is able to do if neither he nor Obama or McCain is elected? One thing will be true Wednesday morning that isn't true now (that is assuming there aren't an ocean of lawyers fighting over the results). One man will be elected, and to rework Phillips' analogy, one man gets to be "quarterback" and the rest get to sit on the bench and be a part of the team. Why do people continue to "vote" for a prospective "quarterback" whose record shows that they've been "throwing touchdowns" to the other "team"? It's time to stop the nonsense and "let the rookie have the ball".
3. In fact, all third-party candidates will accomplish NOTHING of what they promise. Why not? Well, for starters, there are two people in the world: those who think a third-party candidate has any realistic chance of winning the election, and sane people. You can't keep any promises if you don't win office, and they can't win! Next, even if that circle could be squared, they would have no constituency in Congress. Nobody to present their legislation. Nobody to craft their bills. Nobody to argue for them. Nobody to vote for them. They'd have to be dictators or tyrants.To repeat, neither McCain nor Obama will accomplish anything either, until someone wins. I'm not going to vote for Baldwin because he could win. I'm voting for him because he stands for the same principles and values that I do. For me to vote any other way is a compromise of principles, pure and simple.
The possibilities, as Phillips apparently likes to think about, are open, across the board. Imagine, though, if a third party candidate ever won the presidency. Maybe what they'd do wouldn't be as significant as what they wouldn't. The stagnancy of the federal government would be a pleasing thing to consider. Having a bottleneck to the seeming unending flow of unconstitutional, libertine legislation from D.C. would be refreshing. Of course, few of those trapped in the two party morass seem to clear their heads long enough to consider that possibility.
Though I do agree with his point about tyrants keeping promises. John Booth agreed too, apparently calling out "Sic Semper Tyrannus" (Thus be it to tyrants) after assassinating Lincoln.