One can not turn on the radio, television, or web browser without having one’s senses assaulted by what is perhaps the worst instrument of torture since the abolition of crucifixion, the political advertisement. No matter the party, no matter the issue, no matter the state of the Union, the advertisements are vile, misleading, and belligerent. Each side attacks the other as if the election of one’s opponent would mean the end of the world; yet, such ads do little to either inform or sway the voter. In the words of Ravi Zacharias, “When you sling mud, not only do you get your hands dirty, but you lose a lot of ground.”
Earlier this week, I lamented the fact that few politicians have ads that describe their own social, political, and economic ideologies. Most that do give such information rarely describe how such ideologies translate into policy or what they will do in office. I lamented this until I realized that the common voter is too socially, politically, and economically illiterate to understand various ideologies, how they effect policies, and how those policies effect us. The late Ronald Nash, in his book Poverty and Wealth wrote…
Theologically conservative Protestants, long known for their relative indifference to cultural and social issues, were becoming increasingly involved in social action… However… there was a second side to Christian social concern. Christians need to care about the poor… but they also need to become informed about the relevant philosophical, political, and economic issues that ground wise and efficient policies to help the poor… When good intentions are not wedded to sound theory, especially sound economic theory, good intentions can often result in actions that produce consequences directly opposite to those we planned. (p.9)
The fact of the matter is few Americans have read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Federalist Papers. Even fewer have read the works of Karl Marx or Frederick Bastaite. A select number have read Herbert Marcuse or Frank Meyer. The only people to have read Ronald Nash are myself, my brother, and those who attended his classes at Western Kentucky University, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. What is really sad is that the only recognizable name I have mentioned is that of Marx. The number of people who know the consequences of his ideas and how they have evolved over time is shrinking.
Is There Any Hope?
I suggest a few remedies. First, Christians who want to cast an informed vote should know their Bible, know their candidates, and read. Read from both Marx and Bastaite, both Marcuse and Meyer, and if time permits Nash (I also hear Wayne Grudem has a new book on politics). In other words, judge for yourselves which economic and political philosophies fit best within a Christian worldview. Second, if you don’t have the time to read, pray for your candidates. No matter who gets in office, they are fallible human beings in need of redemption.