I live in New Hampshire, where, once every four years, presidential politics is inescapable. As I speak, on the eve of the 2016 New Hampshire Primary, candidates are criss-crossing the Granite State hoping to find as many votes as they can.
I have a four year old daughter, Addison. She is very curious about just about everything and has noticed the obvious signs of primary season: the myriad mailers that flood our mailbox, the thousands of political signs polluting our roadways, and the bevy of commercials on television. (We don’t even have TV; they’ve invaded Hulu and YouTube, too!)
So wanting to affirm her curiosity and interest in all that is going on around her, I took her this morning to see one of the candidates, Carly Fiorina. I chose her because she was stopping by one of our favorite breakfast spots, Blake’s in Manchester, and I thought this would be a non-threatening event for my four year old. I also wanted her to see a strong woman running for president because she was surprised that “girls can run for president.”
It was a madhouse, and to my surprise, bringing an adorable four year old to a political rally attracts attention. From media, from campaign staffers, from the candidate herself. I found myself being interviewed by a news crew from California, the Concord Monitor, fivethirtyeight.com, the Union Leader, and Jake Tapper of CNN. In fact, I made it on CNN.
I have an uneasy relationship with politics. As a Christian, I believe that my primary allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, and to my King, Jesus Christ. I do not believe that the goals of America are the same as the goals of the Kingdom of God, and, often, they are opposed to one another. I do not believe either political party has a corner on Christian morality and virtue. More than this, I want to resist political tribalism as much as I can so that I can faithfully love and minister to all who God places in my path no matter their political stances.
Within this context, I am willing to participate in elections. I often choose not to vote, as I believe this to be a better alternative than choosing the “lesser of two evils.” When I vote, particularly in presidential elections, I am looking for the most “adult” person running, by which I mean someone who possesses virtue, character, integrity, a concern for the least of these in our society, and good ideas (and not ideologies). In a primary, I am not seeking who I think would be the best president, but the best person that party can put forward in the general election as its nominee. Often, I will vote for the person who is raising issues that I care about and want discussed, even if I don’t necessarily agree with where that candidate ends up on that issue. In short, I look at the person first, second, and third, and then his or her policies.
So when Jake Tapper asked me who I was considering, I told him Carly, John Kasich, and Bernie Sanders. Yes, that is an eclectic bunch of people, but again, I am looking at who I want to be nominees, not necessarily who I want to be president. As a New Hampshire voter, I do have the ability and responsibility to carefully choose a potential nominee and there are some candidates I want to be able to continue to run and share their ideas as they move on to future primaries.
I want to encourage my fellow Christians to vote but to understand what they are doing and what they are not doing. America is not the Kingdom of God. The next president is going to neither save nor destroy Christianity. We should be choosing the person who can best lead our country, and leadership ability transcends platforms. No matter who is president, Jesus is still King, and our allegiance to him far outweighs our political and national allegiances.
By the way, the fourth candidate I was considering? This guy: