I am still traveling and have limited internet access, so today we have a guest post from Kononia House. I posted it in August, but it is even more relevant as we are days from the U.S. presidential election.
By Kononia House
The heat is on. The economy is still struggling, and the jobless rate is painfully high. Tehran may or may not have a nuclear weapons program, and Israel may or may not strike Iran’s nuclear sites to deal with the problem. America is sharply divided along political and ideological lines, and the man who takes on the U.S. presidency for the next four years will need to skillfully manage the mess. It’s important for every eligible American to take part in the responsibility of choosing the next man to take that executive seat.
The 2004 presidential election boasted the highest voter turnout in almost 40 years; nearly 124 million people voted. Even so, only 60 percent of all eligible voters cast their ballots. Considering the stakes, this year’s elections could once again bring a record number of voters to the polls. Americans seem to be sloughing off the apathy of recent decades as the ideological lines in the sand grow deeper. Hopefully, more Americans will care about the election than ever before.
For the most part, Christians have proved even
There are several reasons. Some Christians don’t consider the business of politics to be their concern. After all, as Daniel said, God "removeth kings, and setteth up kings," (Dan 2:21). Jesus said in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world." Some Christians feel as though they shouldn’t vote, while others simply believe their one little vote won’t make an impact; God is in charge anyway.
At the same time, the Bible never says we should not be involved in what goes on in this world. Jesus told us we are the world’s salt and light (Matt 5:13-16), and it is useless to hide under our bushels, insulated from the world.
In Romans 13, Paul urges us to obey the legal authorities. And again in Hebrews 13:17, we are told to submit to the rulers, who will have to give an account to God. In America, however, the Constitution is the law, and according to the Constitution, the people are ultimately the leaders. We hire our elected officials at the local and state and national levels! We should not think we won’t answer for our diligence in managing the responsibilities that God has given us.
The 2000 presidential election told us once again that each vote does matter. George W. Bush won by 4 electoral votes, but Al Gore won the popular vote by 337,576 votes – hardly a scratch across a country of 200 million eligible voters. The deciding factor in Bush’s winning the election was the victory in Florida by just 537 votes. Not only was Florida extremely close, but so were New Mexico, Iowa, and Wisconsin. At one point in New Mexico, the two candidates were separated by only four votes statewide. Likewise, there have been many tight presidential contests during the past 200 years in which an average of just one vote per precinct in four or less states would have changed the outcome of the election.
- In 1968 Richard Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey by just over 500,000 popular votes. But, that was nothing to Kennedy’s beating Nixon in 1960, by just over 100,000 popular votes.
- In 1888, Benjamin Harrison won the presidency with 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland’s 168, even though Cleveland received 90,596 more popular votes than Harrison. Cleveland did not give up, however. He came back in 1892 to beat Harrison by a mere 3.1% of the popular vote and with 277 electoral votes, 132 more than Harrison.
- Just a few years prior in 1880, James Garfield handily won the Electoral College vote in his race against Winfield Scott Hancock, but by a mere 1898 popular votes.
- The election of 1876 was one of the most controversial, when Samuel J. Tilden lost to Rutherford B. Hayes by 1 electoral vote, (and having won 254,235 more popular votes than Hayes.) To settle the dispute, Congress appointed an Electoral Commission with five representatives each from the Senate, the House, and the Supreme Court to decide between the two candidates. One single Republican who favored Tilden was pressured by his party to vote for Hayes instead, and Hayes became the president. To calm the irate Democrats, the Republicans offered a number of concessions which became known as the Compromise of 1877.
- Perhaps even more contention-filled was the election of 1824, in which Andrew Jackson lost to John Quincy Adams in the vote at the House of Representatives, where Adams, who had received the second largest number of both electoral and popular votes, was considered a more worthy candidate than Jackson who had won first in both categories. Jackson was convinced that he had been cheated out of the presidency and campaigned hard the next four years to beat Adams in 1828.
- The tightest race of all concluded 211 years ago on February 17, 1801, when Thomas Jefferson beat Aaron Burr after 36 stalemated ballots in the House of Representatives. In the election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson had won in the Electoral College against incumbent John Adams but had tied with Aaron Burr. Over five days the House wrestled to decide between Jefferson and Burr as ballot after ballot ended in a tie. Finally, through the persuasive efforts of Alexander Hamilton, who hated Burr, Vermont and Maryland switched their votes to Jefferson and he became the 3rd U.S. President.
Noah Webster once said, "When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers ‘just men who will rule in the fear of God.’ The preservation of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty…If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws."
We enjoy a unique mandate: a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. During this primary season and in preparation for November, take the time to examine the various candidates and initiatives. Take your responsibilities as a citizen seriously, do your homework, and remember to go vote.
- The Decline of the US – Strategic Trends
- Hosea, Can You See? – MP3 Download
- The Late Great USA – DVD
- 2000 General Election Turnout Rates – George Mason University
- 2004 General Election Turnout Rates – George Mason University
- Close and Disputed Elections – History Central
- How Close Were US Presidential Elections? – MIT
- Why Christians Don’t Vote – WND