American voters love to complain about politicians. We want a perfect candidate, and when we don't find one we lump everyone in together and assume the worst.
'They all suck.'
'I must vote for the lesser of evils'.
'They're all crooks...'
and on and on...
No matter who wins, we find something to complain about, even though we are judging them by an impossible standard. Presidents, for example, keep more than 2/3 of all campaign promises, and often an external factor prevents them from accomplishing the other 1/3. Most candidates do not lie, they may interpret facts differently than you, but they normally do not lie, because the reality is that most public officials actually want to make our communities better!
We all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and there is no person who can continuously do good and never sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20). This includes candidates for President, Governor, Senate, and even dog catcher. The American political system is designed to move policies slowly and requires support from a variety of positions and views.
Sin Boldly, As Martin Luther said. Candidates and public officials are going to sin in their positions, because they are human. They will do it in front of hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. They are out there discussing the difficult realities of our broken world - knowing that they will invite ridicule and invite negativity toward them. But their desire to improve the world drives them forward. Their desire to improve the world is genuine, even if we disagree with what their desired outcome is.
Can our elected officials and candidates do better? Absolutely! Are all candidates equal? No, because some have different priorities, different levels of experience, and different values when making difficult choices. Look for candidates who align with your values and beliefs.
But before looking for the speck in their eyes, let us remove the log from our own. Are we discussing these difficult issues in our congregations about shared priorities, issues of war and peace, why so many American children are hungry, why does racial inequality still exist, and how we should structure our economy and eco-system?
I have met my share of public officials over the years, and I have disagreed with many of them on priorities and tactics to solve our pressing needs. But there was one thing clear, they wanted to make the world a better place - and only through those uncomfortable moments of dialogue, debate, and discussion can we move forward in achieving it.
It is time that we stop looking for the perfect candidate, and let's start talking with the candidates and those who are elected about how we can be in right relationship with one another - and good government has a role in that.