I have had an unusual relationship with politics for as long as I can remember. My initial voting opportunity occurred in 1972. The voting age was lowered to age eighteen in 1971 but by then I was already twenty-one years old so it did not affect me at all. Entering the polling booth my choices consisted of Richard Nixon and George McGovern. I confess, I was one of the twenty-eight people in the whole country who voted for McGovern, but I can also proudly say that I never voted for Nixon.
The first election I can remember occurred in 1960 when Kennedy defeated Nixon. What I recall was the discussion about Kennedy being a Catholic and concerns that if he were elected, the Pope would be running the country. I guess “crazy” is the one constant in every major campaign.
In 1976 I was on the winning side when we elected Jimmy Carter. It seemed if electing a Catholic was a problem, choosing a Baptist should be a good thing. Since my first vote in 1960 we have had ten presidential elections. During that time I have voted for six Democrats and four Republicans. I will admit that in eight of those elections, I was essentially voting against a candidate rather than supporting another. It seems that I find myself looking for someone who will do things differently. Alas, it never happens.
As you can note, I do not vote according to party lines. I have made decisions based on several criteria. Sometimes it has been a specific policy, like the Vietnam War during my first election. At other time it has been personal issues with a candidate or perhaps moral values. There have also been times when it was the economy (I’m not stupid), which seems to be a big player with most people in every election. Like much of life, it is usually about the money.
The most confusing part of every election is making decisions based on economic matters. It seems that every election year, people are constantly talking about the economy and issues like raising or lowering taxes, debt, and other things that are just too difficult to understand. I have numerous friends who faithfully send me information about these concerns but it almost always sounds like knee-jerk reactions to financial figures they don’t even understand.
For example, take our nation’s debt. When most of us think of debt we think in terms of our family finances. We would rather be out of debt or at least it seems better to reduce our debt as much as possible. But, to be honest, the time in my life when my debt was the highest was also the time I was doing the best financially. We had just purchased a new house and then shortly after that a new car along with the furnishings for the new house. At other times when my debt has been lowest were the times I had very little financial stability. What I am trying to say is that the size of my debt has not been a good indicator of my financial health.
Debt must be understood within context. The same is true with our nation’s debt. What is the context? I had no idea how to understand that until I met my friend Gary Moore. I first met Gary at a conference he was leading. He is an entertaining speaker, always has interesting visuals, and provides an informed, unique perspective about things. Plus, he is not afraid to ruffle some feathers, which I always enjoy. The thing I like about him the most is the biblical foundation he provides.
Gary has helped me put things in perspective. Listen to what he recently said about our country’s financial situation. “Everyone knows that we have a 15 trillion dollar federal debt, but no one knows the OMB in the Bush White House estimated our assets at 120 trillion dollars. America’s net debt was only seven trillion dollars, so America’s net assets were well over 100 trillion dollars. We are undoubtedly the ‘rich young ruler’ of the world who’s going away sad as we refuse to let God touch our money. Many believe America is bankrupt, even though the economy is back to pre-recession levels.”
Obviously we go through bad times as well as good times, but in my lifetime the graph line has been rising much more than falling. My father used to say he remembered when you could buy more for a dollar but the problem was you could not get a dollar.
Gary really gets to the point when he says, “Americans can elect as many extreme supporters of the welfare state or as many government-hating libertarians as we want. We can enact as much or as little government as we think will create even greater material prosperity. Absent a spiritual and moral reawakening however, most Americans will continue to believe our nation is headed in the wrong direction. We will remain dispirited about our economy, which will paradoxically slow our economy. Insider trading will continue to characterize Wall Street and Washington. We will continue to worry about the nation we are leaving our children.”
Did you catch that? As long as we believe our nation is headed in the wrong direction, even when it is not, we will struggle. Many just blindly nod their assent when they hear that debt is a problem or that times are getting worse without any justification for that belief. It is especially disheartening when Christians fail to make God a part of the equation.
Gary’s point is that rather than looking to the right or to the left to help us with our political problems, we should be looking up. In fact, the title of his new book is “Look Up America! Financial Insights for Tea Partiers Looking Right; Occupiers Looking Left; and All Americans Looking at a Lower Standard of Living for their Children.” It’s a long title but if you read it carefully it says a great deal.
If you are weary of panic inducing viral emails, caustic Facebook posts, and dreary blogs telling you that we should be worried about our future, I encourage you to read Gary’s book. It will give you tremendous insights into biblical teaching, an accurate understanding of our complex economy, and uplifting hope about what God can do in our world. If you are one of those folks who forward the political emails, make the caustic Facebook posts, and write the dreary blogs you especially need to read this book.
There are a few months before we enter the voting booth and I have no desire to tell you how you should vote, I’m not campaigning for anyone. In fact, I’m not sure how I will vote this year – I am still giving it prayerful thought. However, I do encourage you to make it an intelligent vote. Gary Moore’s book, “Look Up America!” will be one of the best resources you will find for getting the information you need.