Election Map for a Savior

by | Nov 6, 2012 | Uncategorized

Red State/Blue State Jesus from linked CNN article
Red State/Blue State Jesus from linked CNN article

Is your Jesus red or blue?
(illustration from the linked CNN article)

Red state Jesus or blue state Jesus? CNN wants to help you find out who you really believe in.

Give them 5 minutes for the test, and CNN will tell you whether your “political Jesus” is made in the image and likeness of a Mel Gibson or a Martin Sheen.  Like most stupid things, it’s quick, easy and promises clear results.

As you might be able to tell, I’m not convinced.

With each question, the underlying rationale is pretty obvious. So you like social justice? Then your view of Jesus means you’re a mushy Democrat (who only likes Jesus as a role model, not as the Son of God).  So you believe our imperfect world is passing and our true home is beyond? Then you’re an unfeeling Republican (who pawns off care of the poor to God in the afterlife).  Each question about Jesus asked for an answer, A or B. Is your Jesus like this or like that?

But there was always something missing. Option C: “Both A and B,” or option D: “Frankly, I don’t know.” CNN’s test was — in a word — frustrating.

I’ve realized, however, that the frustration runs deeper than CNN’s silly test — American politics also seems to be missing an option C these days. During election season, lulls in conversation often fill with politics — and rarely do they begin with a soft opening pitch: “Say, friends…let’s consider the positives and negatives of each candidate.” Instead, presuming that reasonable people already agree with them, politics junkies begin with a bat-to-the-face: “Can you believe what a liar ____ is?” or “How can someone call themselves a Christian and vote for ____?”

CNN’s questions aren’t really questions; they’re a recipe for finding a “political Jesus” you already agree with.  It’s a terrible way to pick a savior, and it doesn’t work much better for picking a political candidate. Yet even if we can see through the Jesus questions, when we get to politics, we’re all too quick to skip the nuances and unknowns, and jump right to the absolutes: Are you red or blue? Is this candidate our last, best hope, or a loser and a liar?

Here’s what I think: both candidates are decent, intelligent men of character who will work as hard as possible to serve our great country. But if history is any indicator, neither of them will live up to the fever pitched promises that they make to sway us in their favor.

When we vote, are we going to get the best of the candidate we’ve been supporting, or the worst of what the other candidate says about him? Option C: we’re probably going to get a bit of both. Also option D: the truth is, we don’t — and can’t — know in advance.

Spoiler alert: Whoever is elected will not be perfect. And that’s fine. The job of savior is already taken, anyway.