Sometimes when we discuss the merits of particular political candidates, we discover that we have completely different criteria for voting. By what standard is the wisest way to vote?

[This post discludes from the outset philosophies of selfish voting held by many, such as “who will benefit me more?” or “Candidate A is one of us and Candidate B is less than human.” I am writing to an audience who wants to live and vote in a way that is beneficial for their families, communities, and nation long-term.]

1. Policy

When I first dived into in-depth learning on politics, economics, history, and human nature, my hope was to vote truthfully and not out of deception. I decided who to vote for based on the content of candidates’ policies. I studied what policies were good for America in the long run and voted for candidates who best represented them. But – as anyone who has seen their favorite candidate win and not only fail to accomplish what they promised but actually work against the promised vision – I quickly learned there are additional realities in politics to take into account when deciding who to support.

2. Character

Then I matured to vote based on the demonstrated character of a candidate. A president’s job, in reality, is to make tens of thousands of decisions and to appoint others who will hire thousands of others, who all eventually make millions of decisions that affect our daily lives. Many of these decisions regard issues that weren’t even on our attention spans during the election (Americans in the 2000 election didn’t elect George Bush to guard against Islamic terrorism, but that issue turned out to be unexpectedly important). It matters to hire a person of integrity, who understands the vision of America and will sacrifice their own interests to defend the public weal, and who will discern the motivations of others, appointing quality leaders who will remain in power long after the president’s tenure is over. Character considerations should trump policy considerations because a person’s character determines what will actually happen once in office. This philosophy is wiser than policy-driven criteria. I’ve almost stopped caring at all what positions a candidate holds and look more at what the person is most likely to do (those two are not the same!).

Included in this voting philosophy is being aware of who has purchased this candidate’s loyalty if he/she should win. Following the money is great wisdom here.

Why Character-Based Criteria is Insufficient

But then along came Obama. Mubarak Hussein Obama’s unnatural rise to power (which he himself called “spooky”) demonstrated that the “normal” rules of politics are not permanent and that forces against America from inside and outside our nation are capable of “placing” a candidate of choice to “fundamentally transform” America. A careful observer of Obama’s actions would find it difficult to make any logical sense of why he stands for or against certain possibilities, and with varying levels of passion unless one dives deeply into radical Communist and Islamist thinking (where a clear thread finally emerges). While Obama exercises a persona of a nice man who is harming the country accidentally, incompetently, or because he had one hand tied by “obstructionist Republicans,” the truth is that Obama is very capably and strategically advancing a detailed playbook with a long-term plan for America. Hillary Clinton is next in line to carry out that plan, for example, herself also receiving guidance at a young age from satan-worshipping Saul Alinsky.

During these last ten years as American culture and politics have drastically changed, crossing one red line after another, calling good evil and evil good, and seeing events happen that would have been impossible within my lifetime, it is apparent more than ever that we’re not working in fair elections free from deception, intimidation, shame, and spiritual forces. Something else is happening.

Open war is upon us.  This isn’t sports, folks. I’m not rooting for “my team” to win. The stakes are not bragging rights, or even our jobs and homes, but life itself.

If the church were engaged in her responsibility of discipling one another and our nation, then the 2012 election should have prepared us to have perfect clarity in 2016.

Let me explain. Many Christians, myself included, had to pray and think through our response to an Obama vs. Romney election. Am I comfortable voting for a Mormon for president, whose lifestyle I agree with, but whose religion at its core is founded on evil and deception? What kind of decisions will he make, and what sort of people will be empowered if I vote for him? These were important questions to wrestle with to “vote my conscience.”

At first, my answers took the form of “the end justifies the means.” If I want certain policies to advance, my better chances are with Romney and the people he’ll bring with him than with what I know Obama does and intends to do. I know a lot of people voted that way. But I still knew key policy differences I had with Romney (what he did with healthcare in MA) and that in terms of character, he represented the interests of the ruling class rather than the public good. His presidency would just be a slower decline for America.

Apparently many Christians thought the same way. Obama won the 2012 election with fewer votes than he had in 2008. If Romney had only the same number of votes that McCain received, then the damage caused by Obama’s last four years would have been prevented. Someone stayed home.

Thinking through my vote, it became clear that while Romney was just a man brought to the Republican ticket by typical power structures, Obama’s presidency was thoroughly supported by evil spiritual forces. Though I didn’t have a clear avenue from God in the election to advance good, I did have a clear mandate to do what I can to stop evil. God gave me the opportunity to vote, and there is clear evil at work, and so in love for God and in using the gifts from His hand, I could enthusiastically and without hesitation vote for a Mormon. In addition, it was apparent that I’m voting for a president, not a spiritual leader. And so from this perspective of seeing the spiritual war for life in America, I can quite comfortably vote for a Mormon president, Hindu president, gay president, or several other stereotypes American Christians don’t typically support.

Some may call this voting approach situational ethics (which I don’t agree with – ethics are objective), and a fair observer could say this thinking still sounds like “the end justifies the means.” However, there is a world of difference between “I’ll vote for Romney so Obama won’t get elected” and “God, by His providential grace has given me the gift of voting to be able to stop demonic rule in our nation, and it is my responsibility to Him and the people I love to do what I can to influence this election.” The insufficient character-based voting philosophy looks at men, whereas this “new” (to me) approach looks at God.

The types of issues Christians have supporting Trump (“He’s not a Christian,” “He’s not a conservative,” “I can’t trust how he’ll govern”) are exactly the same we had in 2012 with Romney. The difference is in degree and politeness, but we should have been ready in the church with a working paradigm of how to deal with these kind of situations.

3. Providence

At all times God and Satan are advancing agendas through the political sphere of culture. My job as a responsible voter is to align my support with what God is doing and resist what Satan is doing.

Most of the time political campaigns are “relatively neutral,” influenced by the day-to-day low-level spiritual warfare we’re accustomed to in America. In these cases I have to look at the more spiritually charged individuals and organizations behind their campaign: follow the money, yes, but also discern the spirits behind them. Discern the agendas through prayer prior to research.

So God opened my eyes to see a third way to measure a candidate. Pray, ask, and watch:

  • Where is the battle between good and evil being waged in this season?
  • What weapon is God using for this battle at this time?
  • Conversely, what weapon is Satan using for this battle at this time?
  • Who is anointed during this campaign, for good or evil, versus who is just merely talented or calculating?
  • Who is being raised up by spiritual forces to steal, kill, and destroy, whose candidacy I need to oppose?
  • Who is being raised up by God at this moment in answer to prayer?
  • If this candidate were to win the election, who would really be in charge of their decisions?

If I am in a relationship with God, advancing His kingdom, meeting resistance from the enemy, then I should clearly see the spiritual forces behind candidacies.

[Example: compare this list of questions with those at the bottom of this article. You’ll see that the article’s list uses a “character-based” way of voting rather than a “divine providence” way of voting. We can make sound arguments back and forth but not address each’s others concerns until we agree on the best criteria for Christians to use in voting.]

Why Do These Philosophies Matter?

From the outset, we must identify that there is a distinct difference of criteria among followers of Christ who “vote by character” (Who best demonstrates and would govern by true values?) and those who “vote by providence” (Who is God lifting up so I can align with what He’s doing, and/or who is the devil supporting that I need to resist?). I know that we must have some agreement on wise criteria for Christians giving political support before we can discuss the merits of particular candidates. Though an oversimplification, this observation notes that those who vote by character have huge reservations about Trump and generally support Cruz, and those who vote by providence generally support Trump and fight against Clinton and the elite ruling class. Some significant voices like Glenn Beck don’t fall neatly into either of these viewpoints, but when you talk with some of the millions of regular Protestants and Catholics on the street, you’ll find these character-based and situation-based voting criteria to be a strong predictor of a Christian’s support of Trump.

Election 2016

In a war, you need to use different weapons at different times to win. Sometimes infantry, cavalry, or archers. Sometimes artillery, air power, or just trumpets and empty jars. The point is that God uses an incredible variety of people and circumstances to advance His will. Every biblical character is flawed and has wide variances of personality. God loves to use variety. Samson was anointed by God to save His nation by killing 1,000 men using the jawbone of a donkey.

As followers of God, can we please not be offended at God for anointing a presidential candidate who shamelessly speaks his mind, while accepting a historical leader who killed 1,000 people with a bone?

I believe Donald Trump is anointed by God to be a “wrecking ball” through Washington and similar institutions, to destroy structures arrayed against Judeo-Christian culture, and to do it in a blunt, unpretty way. He has done more to move the Overton Window back to traditional American values and allowing the viewpoints of the majority of Americans to even allowed to be discussed in the public square. Whether we personally “like” Trump or not doesn’t matter; God is using him to open gates the church can use to advance truth and love into every area of culture. We’ll have a lot of work to do.