Voting can be one of the easiest or most difficult things we can do in America, depending on who you talk to. For those who simply do a straight party vote, it’s easy – just place your vote for every Democrat or Republican candidate. The same could be said of one-issue voters on hot topics like gun control, abortion, marijuana, and immigration.
However, politicians such as U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D – WV) are starting to complicate those party and single-issue lines a bit. Manchin used to be known for his support of gun rights even as a Democrat, yet he earns a poor rating from the National Rifle Association and has spoken recently about gun control in light of recent shootings.
And then for those of us who don’t vote a party line, it gets even more complicated. We ask ourselves questions like:
- Which candidate is pro-life? Which is pro-abortion?
- Who is the most capable leader?
- Which one is the most likely to navigate a complicated global trade climate?
- What do their voting records on human rights issues look like?
- Would Jesus vote for any of these people?
So in a post-Trump nation, how can we rightly decide who to vote for? A good phrase I heard around the 2016 election was to “vote your conscience and trust God with the results.” But if we want a well-informed conscience, deciding how to vote can be difficult.
Below are some resources to help you learn about the 2020 election candidates and how to decide whether you should support for them.
Resources to Help You Decide How to Vote in 2020
1. The Bible.
The bible is our authority as Christians. It isn’t necessary to ask for a “sign” when God gives the answer in his word, right? It’s very important to know what God has to say on issues before we vote on them. But we must also ensure that we do not let our own personal biases impact our interpretation of his word on political issues.
We also know that the Bible indicates the value of life inside the womb from the story of Mary and Elizabeth found in Luke 1.
And while only 33% of evangelical Protestants believe that abortion should be legal in most/all cases, abortion is truly only part of the pro-life story that God has woven into the biblical story.
To say God loves unborn babies more than he loves a human at any other stage – a child in the foster care system, a refugee seeking shelter from a corrupt and dangerous government, a widow, the elderly, the homeless – is to widely distort God’s story.
God loves all his people, not just unborn babies, for we are all made in his image and we’re all here for his glory. This concept makes the seemingly simple issue of life into a complicated one. Some candidates may be pro-life and anti-gun restriction, or pro-life but votes down funding for the foster care system.
We can and should view the election through the lens of the entire biblical story: God creates everything, creates man, gives man free will. Man sins, separating humans from God. As a result, families and nations commit deep sin, fighting and killing. Kings commit infanticide. Meanwhile, they had been given a set of laws they couldn’t keep. But then Jesus came and fulfilled the law. He preached and demonstrated love for God and love for others before performing the ultimate act of love by death on a cross.
Now, when we think of Jesus dying on a cross for every kind of person – the kinds of people we pretend don’t exist, like starving children or sexually trafficked women or families being ripped apart at the border while escaping tyrannical governments or deadly drug wars – we must see the value in their lives.
Because Jesus loved and died for them.
He also died for the ones we think we’re better than – the incarcerated murderer, the strung-out mother, and the back-room producer of methamphetamine.
We also know that God commands us to have no other Gods before him – whether it’s an actual god in the form of an idol, our money, or our political beliefs.
This means we must be objective and free of bias before seeking God’s counsel in the Bible so that we interpret it without seeking justifications for our self-centered politics.
So, here are some questions to ask ourselves based on our understanding the Bible:
- Which candidates and bills most reflect God’s story, his glory, his mercy, his love, his grace, and his justice?
- Can we legislate morality? Or is it up to us to be living examples of Jesus rather than the government mandating us to do it? Which proposed laws are more likely to facilitate this?
- Is God’s version of “pro-life” really just focused on unborn children, despite the numerous places where God commands us to speak up for the downtrodden and the refugee, and meet their needs?
- Do we really want inclusion of specific biblical teachings in government institutions (e.g., the bible in schools, the ten commandments in courthouses)? Might this open the door for false religions to have their gods and texts displayed prominently as well, in order to satisfy laws regarding separation of church and state?
- Am I looking at a verse in context of the full Biblical narrative, or am I interpreting in a way that lines up with my own preferences?
Once we understand what God says directly about the set of issues that are key to the election, we have a solid foundation for forming our voting decisions.
If 2020 is anything like the previous major election cycle, we will not have a clear-cut decision on which candidates to support. This makes it even more important to study God’s word. And it also makes it important for us to start praying for the election, candidates, governing bodies, and proposed laws now. And then once we know who the nominees are, we can begin to pray in terms of who God would have us vote for.
Things we can pray about before the election year arrives:
- Pray for God to bring about candidates that love Jesus and love others more than they love themselves.
- Pray that God would bring well-qualified, sensible, flexible, honest, intelligent, teachable candidates to the forefront of the campaign.
- Pray for God to be moving in the hearts of those considering a campaign.
- Pray that God’s will be done in laws currently being written.
- Pray that churches and church leaders will stand for what God and the Bible stand for, instead of falling into political machines.
- Pray for discernment and lack of personal bias when interpreting the Bible as we make our voting decisions.
- Pray that we will form opinions on issues that conform to God’s story, and not our own.
3. The Candidates’ Official Websites/Accounts.
If you can count on one thing to happen during a major election, it’s political mud-slinging.
But instead of letting biased advertising educate you on candidates’ positions and records, see what each candidate has to say for him/herself about the issues by going directly to their official websites.
Most candidates’ official websites will have a section about the issues. Here, they typically describe how they feel about each one, and the work they have done or plan to do regarding each matter.
You can also look up the candidates’ official social media accounts for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (the official account will have a blue check beside the name – otherwise the account could be a fake).
4. Voting Records.
Obviously, taking a politician at their word would be naive in this day and age. So once you’ve read straight from the candidate’s mouth via their official website and social media feeds, it’s time to research their voting record. Do they actually stand for the issues like they say?
Go to a reliable source (go straight to the governing body’s website, such as Senate.gov, or to an unbiased, non-profit third party like Center for Arizona Policy or GovTrack). You can then compare what they say they’re about on their website, or what they’re Tweeting about, with what they’re actually about.
A note about voting records, though: it’s important to get a clear understanding of each bill. Often, politicians will vote against a bill because the bill contains something unrelated (called a “rider” or “pork”) that doesn’t line up with that politician’s platform.
For example, if a politician voted for this Congress spending bill in support of bettering infrastructure, they’d also be supporting immigration reform and the border wall, which might or might not have lined up with what the Congressperson’s constituents wanted.
5. Your Brain.
The key here is to discern objectively. Don’t let your personal preferences bias your interpretation of God’s word on an issue. Don’t let it interfere with the candidate’s own words. Don’t let it creep into your understanding of a vote.
A comprehensive, unbiased look at the candidates and the issues is so critical. To make an informed decision, we have to know what the candidate says they’re supporting. We need to know the bill being voted on, and then how they voted on it and why.
We need to use unbiased sources when we research – does an outlet have a reputation for being conservative or liberal, even if we disagree with that reputation? If so, consider another source.
And then once we have the facts, we need to see how it all lines up with What God tells us in His story.