Untangling a mess to reveal a decision

And I said, “What is it?” He said, “This is the basket that is going out.” And he said, “This is their iniquity in all the land.” – Zechariah 5:6


It’s three weeks until the election and I’m still struggling. Don’t mind me while I do a little thinking out loud here as I try and sort through the messy business of choosing a president in 2016.

First, it occurs to me that much of the moralizing being engaged in by virtually all parties involved is frankly incoherent. Not that it’s “expressed in an incomprehensible or confusing way.” Few are being merely suggestive, much less subtle. It’s incoherent because it’s “internally inconsistent” and hypocritical. When charges of immoral activity are lobbed as ammunition from positions gravely weakened by the same, they lose much of their force. And further, when they are hurled by individuals who either in their worldview or their lifestyle deny the existence of a holy and just, law-giving God, their volleys disintegrate on impact because they cannot be sustained without an objective standard.

Secondly, what does it say about us when in our criticism of a candidate’s demeaning comments about an individual or “basket” of individuals, we are just as rude, crude, disparaging and belittling? I’ll tell you what it says…it says there’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around.

And it says that we’re all human, and that’s my third thought. Not a monumental revelation, I know. But more specifically it shouts that in our shared humanity we are a sorry sack of sinners in need of saving. Not only half of Donald Trump’s supporters are in the basket but all of them. And don’t look now, but Hillary Clinton’s and supporters of neither as well. Compared to the standard which is the goodness and holiness of God himself, we ARE deplorable. But “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”  that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” enabling our escape from the basket of shame.

Still, recognizing our own failings doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider those of the candidates. Only that we shouldn’t be self-righteous about it. How many of us would emerge untarnished from a thorough inspection of our past words, deeds, and thoughts? The saga of undecided voter and internet sensation Ken Bone is a case in point. It’s beginning to seem like the victorious candidate in any election will be the one who was more successful in hiding or whitewashing his or her past and presumed-private moments.

So here’s where I’m at so far: both presidential candidates have multiple moral failings, and so do we, to one degree or another. Though we’ve never had a perfect, sinless president, these two appear to be the “least perfect” ever to seek the office. Yet we need to choose one of these flawed individuals as our nation’s leader. Some say, No…we have other choices. But no third party candidate appears to have enough traction to do more than hand the election to Clinton, and with none getting the media scrutiny that the major party candidates have received, how do we know what may be festering in their closets? As marked by schadenfreude as the news media seem to be, they do help balance the hype from the candidates’ campaigns and devotees.

I do have a third option, however, and that is not to cast a vote at all. Though I haven’t yet decided, I’ll struggle with why I’m not inclined to exercise that option in another post. Then, hopefully, as I force myself to work out what the news media, social media, and the immediate times have worked in to my cache of considerations, my decision will be clear by November 8.

Are you still here? Thanks for keeping me company as I wrestle with this tangled mess that is presidential politics. Feel free to help me unravel it in the comment section below.