By Amy Peterson | Faculty Contributor
Photo credit Sterling32157
With the presidential election 10 days away, many Christian conservatives feel caught between a rock and a hard place. The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, is a less-than-ideal choice, lacking character, integrity and experience. As Andy Crouch wrote for Christianity Today recently, Trump exemplifies those things that Paul urged Colossians to avoid: "sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). And Trump is proudly unrepentant.
Trump has called Mexicans "rapists," aligned himself with white supremacists, implied that his supporters ought to shoot Hillary Clinton and promised to lock her up when he's elected-a common enough practice in dictatorships, but not democracies. He has mocked the disabled and war veterans, called for a total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, encouraged his fans to practice voter intimidation on Election Day, repeatedly used misogynist language and bragged about assaulting women.
Despite all this, some Christians feel compelled to vote for Mr. Trump based on his promise to nominate conservative Supreme Court Justices who might overturn Roe v. Wade. I sympathize with their desire to protect the unborn. But nothing about Trump's character or behavior indicates that he is a man of integrity who will keep those promises. To vote for Trump is to marry the pro-life fate to a man who embodies a pornographic and sexually permissive culture.
So are pro-life conservatives just out of luck in this election? If you're unhappy with Trump and Clinton, what other choices do you have?
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson may be an attractive option. Polling third in many states, Johnson supports small government, the Constitution and free trade. Though he is pro-choice, he likely would not interfere with state's rights to restrict abortion. Johnson certainly lacks foreign policy experience. Still, in a year with limited options for conservatives, he may be one of the best.
And voting for a third-party candidate doesn't equal throwing away your vote. Voting for a third party candidate can have long-term benefits even if he or she doesn't win the presidency: winning 5 percent of the popular vote would give a third party access to equal federal funding in the next election.
There's one other independent candidate who has seen a surge of support over the last three months. Many conservatives unwilling to support Trump have shifted their support to Evan McMullin. Born in Utah, McMullin has a degree in International Law and Diplomacy from Brigham Young University and an MBA from The Wharton School. He has worked for the UN, spent a decade as a CIA operative and worked in investment banking.
In 2013, McMullin joined the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as a senior advisor and later became the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference. When he announced his candidacy in August, he argued that "It's never too late to do the right thing." His platform is pro-life and recalls Bush-era conservatism.
It's even possible-though unlikely-McMullin could win the election. He's currently polling close to Clinton and Trump in Utah. If he won Utah's six electoral votes, that could be enough to block any candidate from winning the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency (find more details at FiveThirtyEight.com). In that case, the decision would be thrown to Congress.
We often talk about voting for the lesser of two evils. But the truth is that we have more than two choices in this election, and every one of them, like every human, is flawed. As Election Day approaches, and the choices and the rhetoric threaten to leave us throwing up our hands in despair, here's what we can do:
We can be civically active and locally engaged. We can educate ourselves. We can pray. We can remember that cultural change is a long game and rest in the truth that our first allegiance is to a different Kingdom. Then we can vote as our consciences and the Holy Spirit lead.
Whatever the results of this election, we have a lot of work to do fighting corruption in our political systems and in our own hearts. Let's get to it.