As I write this article on the Monday night before the 2008 Presidential election, I sense the momentous occasion the country faces in the morning as we anticipate dragging our bodies out of bed to head to our respective polling places to cast votes. Things in the world seem off center. Not only has the global economy gone south, but our country finds itself in the midst of two wars—with no end in sight on either account. Politicians sidle up to hyperbole quicker than a white cat to a black suit; but in the present instance, when we hear a politician saying things like, “This is the biggest election of our lifetime,” we’re much less inclined to chalk it up to the traditional rhetorical over-exuberance of politicians in full partisan voice. The 2008 election feels historic for a number of reasons: we have an African-American candidate for President, a female candidate for vice-President, a seventy-two year-old former P.O.W. for the other Presidential candidate. With the economic meltdown, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recent energy crunch, the problems with the healthcare system, the specter of terrorism always looming on the margins, there is a sense that we have to get this one right (actually, correct might be better). We find it difficult to avoid the sense that the world needs us to do well on November 4, 2008.
It is the “needs” about which I think Christians must be cautious. Obviously, I don’t want to argue that this election isn’t of real importance—it is. On the other hand, Christians have too often acted as though getting the right (correct) politician in office is the fulfillment of our Christian responsibilities to the world in which we live. In fact, however, our hope (as audacious as it might be) is never centered on whether we can help get the politics to agree with us, but rather, whether we can live faithfully as a community of disciples—regardless of who holds the levers of power.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have opinions about who stands in the best position to make the world more equitable and just from a political perspective. On the other hand, I realize that Christians live on this side of the eschaton. In other words, I realize that no matter who wins, the world, as it is presently situated, falls short of God’s expansive vision for the future. In fact, we’re preparing to celebrate Advent—the season in which we formalize our commitment to waiting for God in Christ to redeem the world. So, while we may characterize our political commitments as Republican or Democrat, at heart, Christians are ultimately monarchists—we’re awaiting the return of the King.
All of which is to say, no matter who wins at the polls, our ultimate trust is in God—who alone is capable of getting it right (I mean correct).