I’m Stumped
Published in

I’m Stumped

People or Policy?

A friend recently inquired:

Curious to know how you respond to people saying not to vote for the person but instead for the policy they stand behind? In reference to a pro for Trump. (i.e. That the president is simply a mouth piece for pro life issues as a Christian).

I’m going to leave some important stuff out of this response because of time constraints, but it’s a good question that merits a thoughtful response.

I feel compelled to begin by pointing out that after a lifetime of following Jesus, I have never encountered a person who shares less in common with Jesus than Donald Trump. That is not a judgement of his heart or his beliefs. That is simply my observation of his behavior for decades in the public eye.

More specifically answering the question presented, when voting for the President, you are selecting a leader. Policies do not and cannot lead. They are tools, guides and sometimes limitations on leaders, but they cannot themselves provide any leadership.

Good leadership calls for wisdom, judgement, well-honed instincts, patience, listening, compasion, adaptability, communication skills, self-awareness, humility, empathy, integrity and a healthy self-image….among other things. Policies, even really good ones, do not possess any of those qualities.

Policies cannot work with congress to get laws passed that will benefit the Country. Policies cannot set an example for how to act in a public health crisis. Policies cannot forge important relationships with political allies around the globe. Policies cannot comfort a grieving parent when their child is killed in battle. Policies cannot build the executive branch and fill the critical seats with the best, most skilled leaders available. Policies cannot surround themselves with strong, wise people who are not willing to break the law for their own gain. Policies cannot stand up to dictators. Policies cannot look into a camera and address a divided nation and bring a message of unity and hope.

People must do these things, as policies cannot.

And I could go on, but I suspect you get the point. The President plays many crucial roles that require judgment and character and cannot be accomplished by simply adhering to a policy.

So, while it is important to know a person’s beliefs and political philosophies and the principles that will guide their decisions, it is more important to know that whoever leads will place the interests of the Nation ahead of his or her own and will be guided by a true desire to help, serve, inspire, unify and create.

Of course, the counter to this argument is: all the choices are bad, all people are flawed and so the most you can do is vote for the “side” that seems to follow your own agenda. This concept has at least 2 fundamental flaws as it applies to the current election.

First, the President does more than implement whatever specific policy you as a voter find the most compelling. And all that other work matters. As pointed out above, the policies do not cover the most important parts of the job. Additionally, the President is not all-powerful and so you have to consider not only will a President advocate for my position, but does he or she possess the requisite skills and authority to actually make a difference in that area? Can they build coalitions, negotiate to compromise, work across the aisle, focus on what is important, etc.? A party platform is at most a general direction to head, it cannot answer the millions of questions and decision points that will be a part of that implementation.

Second, the position of voting for issues rather than people does not work with Trump because there is only one position that Trump cares about: Do what is good for Trump. That’s it. He is not pro-life and certainly does not demonstrate any trait one might associate with the teachings of Jesus. He is not pro or against anything except for what he believes might benefit him in the moment. So, it does you no good to vote for “issues” because Trump has no character, no integrity and no principles so he will simply do whatever he wants.

I feel like some people make this calculus on this issue: “I hate abortion, so I will vote for the party who wants to make abortion illegal and if that requires me to suffer through a bad person in charge, so be it.”

But there are all kinds of hidden flaws in that reasoning. One, Trump only became anti-abortion when he started to campaign, so not even he cares about this issue. Take a look at politicians Trump supported before suddenly becoming a Republican. Two, because of rulings very unlikely to be overturned, no party can make abortion illegal. Three, making abortion illegal is unlikely to be a path to fewer abortions, just more dangerous abortions. Four, no matter how much you want to protect the unborn, there are other people out there that also matter. Millions of lives are at stake over things like military policies, immigration policies, economic policies, health care policies, racial justice, women’s rights, access to legal representation, regulations on dangerous products, safe roads and bridges, pandemic response and on and on and on. These are not “issues.” These are real people’s lives at stake.

So, to choose to support a candidate because they are pro-life, when they have shown an absolute disdain for everyone else’s life is not only hypocrisy, it is insanity.

Let me sum up this way. People matter. The person you vote for matters, not because you want “good people” in office (though we should) but because that person has to lead and leadership requires more than a vague platform to tell you what someone might be for or against. We need a person we can trust to tell us the truth. We need a person with the integrity to walk his own talk. We need a person who will try to bring us together rather than split us further apart. We need a person who cares at least as much about America as he does his bank account.

Why? Because otherwise, people will die.

There are thousands of other reasons too, but if you need just one, there it is. They will die in an overwhelmed hospital because we had no leadership during a pandemic. They will die in cages at the border (or the ones where we warehouse people). They will die in angry protests on the street. They will die at the hands racist police. They will die in wars and hostilities that did not need fighting. They will die in deregulated factories or taking deregulated medication. They will die on failing bridges whose funding went for an ego project on the Mexican border. They will die of starvation, addiction, sickness and untreated mental health disorders.

I want to protect unborn life. But I also want a leader who will protect all life and values people over policies.

So, that’s basically what I say to those who are willing to ignore Trump’s astonishing lack of character in favor of some pet agenda. There is no agenda that should outweigh the character and integrity of the person you vote for because that agenda cannot lead.

We need leaders and when it comes to leaders it is the person who matters most because they fundamentally need to understand that people matter most.

Hope that helps.

These are my musings on politics, religion, parenting, and the hard work of trying to be a decent human.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Joshua Stump

I am a Dad, a husband, a son, a brother, a follower of Jesus, a lawyer, a songwriter, and just generally someone with a lot of strong opinions about stuff.