"A Bad Joke."
These are just some of the terms I've heard (or read) to describe #Election2016. For almost two years, we have been inundated with campaign news, speeches, debates, commentary, and scandals. And it's not just in the TV news, it's in the social sphere as well. I have limited myself on Facebook and Twitter because after a while it's not longer educational or informational, it's just tiring and depressing.
These candidates have slung the mud, have serious credibility issues, and aren't the most popular potential candidate in their own party. Yet, after today, one or the other will be elected Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful nation in the world.
I've had friends tell me that this time around they are just going to "hold their nose and vote." I've heard that before--four years ago... and eight years ago...
Actually, that got me thinking: What's really different about this election cycle? And the answer is, not much that I can tell. As I write this, I'm sitting in a waiting room that has a TV on in the corner. It's airing the "Today Show" that just took a look back at the last 40 years of elections. Do you know what they ALL had in common? The commentators called every election the "most hotly contested election in recent history." Whether it was Carter/Ford in 1976, Reagan/Carter in 1980, or Gore/Bush in 2000, they were all hotly contested.
So I did some research and discovered that almost every Presidential Election has been hotly contested going back to John Adams versus Thomas Jefferson in 1796, which ironically, was the first contested election in U.S. history. In fact, the election of 1800 (again between Adams and Jefferson) was the first election in which negative campaigning emerged.
For those interested in history, here are just a couple of contested elections in our history that literally had thoughtful citizens wondering what the world was coming to. (If you're not interested in history, skip down below to the point.)
What is the point?
New candidates. Same news. We're discussing policy and trustworthiness. Republican or Democrat. It's really and truly nothing new. Yet, somehow, the nation has continued--sometimes up, sometimes down. I guess the point is, does it really matter?
As a Christian pastor, I have come to conclusion that Satan is playing both sides of the political arena. I have watched as the ideology between Democrats and Republicans continues to move further and further apart. Partisanship drives votes. And the resulting effects of polarization in society is unmistakable. Just look at social media and count the number of posts of individuals claiming to have been "unfriended" because of political difference. Satan is having his way in the political arena. The division is growing.
Maybe it's over-simplification, but I'm just not losing sleep over who the next POTUS will be. Sure I've got my opinions just like everyone else. But as a student of Scripture, I know that the stuff happening now is small compared to what's coming. Revelation 13 speaks of a time of coerced religion and worship. It tells us of laws pertaining to religion. And it speaks of economic collapse.
Even though I believe Satan has been playing both sides, I also believe that at some point God is going to stand up and say, "Enough is enough." Daniel 2:21 reminds us that God sets up kings and dethrones them--or in this case, I believe, sets up Presidents and removes them.
So what do we do in the mean time? I say prayerfully vote your conscience today, if you are so inclined. Keep your eyes open and be a people of prayer. But don't lose friendships over it. That is of Satan--not God. Is one candidate better for the immediate future than the other? Perhaps, but we won't really know that answer for some time.
Therefore, I'm keeping my eyes heavenward. I believe God will have His way today. And ultimately, I believe, Jesus will win.