January 25, 2016
Who are you, really?
We live in a country with lots of posers (“a person who acts in an affected manner to impress others”). Worse: a bunch of them are campaigning for significant political positions, in search of our support. The science of politics has become complex: voting blocks have been identified, and each is approached with messaging and images intent to capture their commitment and votes.
Vetting – the word – has fascinating origins. Its earliest usage involved a veterinarian’s evaluation of a horse for health and soundness before entering a race: the horse was vetted. The term leaked into culture to describe a background check before employment selection. Today, eHarmony vets dating prospects; debates vet presidential contenders; friends and acquaintances vet outspoken converts to assess the credibility of newfound faith. Vetting happens 24/7, in every realm of life… to separate the genuine from the posers.
The political world and the faith community have collided: Evangelicals are targeted as a key constituency, constituting 23% of the country. Though often non-participative (two out of three did not vote in 2012), their ability to secure a win – if on-board and voting – is compelling to candidates. The challenge, between now and November 8th: how should an Evangelical vet their political choices?
That question is huge, and won’t be answered in a short-and-pungent Point of View. The issues subject to evaluation are many, and the field of players is still extensive. The candidates are refining their appeal-for-my-vote process; isn’t it time for me to begin refining my win-my-vote criterion?
Some of the contenders are openly hostile to biblical faith. They make it easy for me to eliminate them. Others will pander the faithful, claiming affection or affiliation with the Evangelical block; a few will present their version of a baptismal certificate to prove their credibility. Where are the real-deals, among the posers?
The countdown clocks – in Iowa and New Hampshire – are moving this to the front burner in the national consciousness. The Season will kick off in those two states, but will accelerate into the national scene quickly. How – and, what – we decide is not a quiet curiosity but, rather, the most important task we have at hand – as citizens – in the next four years. My friend Franklin Graham is standing on the steps of state capitols calling Christians – Evangelicals, in political speak – together to pray for the process, and to commit to vote their conscience when they get their turn. What would happen in America if 100% of us – instead of the 33% who did their part last time – spoke up for their faith?
Vetting candidates is an important exercise, requiring multiple layers. Allow me to suggest one of those layers: before they ask me for the power to take – and, distribute – my money through taxation, what have they done with someone else’s money in their past? The issue: stewardship.
Candidates release tax returns; they don’t give the whole picture, but it depicts cash flow: what came in, and where did some of it go? Important factoid: charitable contributions in their private life.
Example: one of the top-tier current candidates – with a strong claim of personal faith – has been in elected life for years, and disclosures from 2009/10 disclose income of $3.5 million, and charitable gifts of $24,000 (.007% – that’s seven tenths of one percent). Is he/she a believer? No dispute there. Does the walk match the talk? That’s for us to vet…
If I knew I would one-day run for president, how would I live life, today? Unlikely… but, one day, I want to be great in God’s Kingdom. What should I be doing – today – to be ready for the vetting that Jesus says he will do to fill those positions?