After a two year campaign I stood for election in 1988.
I made it through the primary, earned 60,000 votes in the general, but lost to the son of a well-known billionaire that President Obama just can’t stop talking about. Like the evil in Pandora’s Box, once you open the lid of politics you can never go back to being blissfully ignorant.
Over the past couple of years I’ve written articles about political and social topics to present the truth when the media would not, or to offer opinion and commentary when the conversation lost touch with reality. In the past week politics has assumed a seat at our table. How did that happen? I don’t DO politics anymore.
Politics is Personal
There is nothing more personal than politics. In 2010 a district court judge left mid-term. After reviewing the applicants, the Governor of Texas appointed a man I knew from Rotary. Before his investiture I asked him why he wanted to be a judge. His list of credentials was so long and impressive it overwhelmed me. I simply wanted to know what his motivation was to wield that gavel. Since that time we have become friends in addition to fellow Rotarians.
There are three reasons why someone seeks elective office. Only one deserves your vote. Some folks want to feed their ego or pocketbook and seek office as a way to fill a deficit in ability or self-esteem. They don’t see it that way, of course, but if you sift down all the way to the heart of the matter it’s true. The second reason for seeking office is because you need the job. That kind of ties back to the first but the reasons may differ greatly when the pressure of the campaign reveals the true character of the candidate.
The third, and only reason I would vote for someone is their commitment to serve. I ran for office because I had exhausted every other option to correct the wrongs of local government. I never wanted to be in elective office and had NO DESIRE to be in politics. As a small business owner I didn’t need the drain on my time and resources of politics. After the results came in on election night I breathed a sigh of relief and went out and bought a horse.
Politics is the Ultimate Temptation
As election season came around this year I was surprised to learn that another member of my Rotary club intended to challenge the appointed judge. I have a photo on my phone of this man and his son the day he visited Rotary. This fine son had just returned from active duty overseas and Dad beamed with well-deserved pride. It was a moment I will treasure.
Both candidates profess relationship with Jesus Christ and say they walk in His precepts.
Within a couple of months the battle lines were drawn. Well, others were drawing them, but I wasn’t about to get into that fight. That’s not my deal. I remained cheerfully detached – until last week. I was reminded of just how nasty politics is and how the temptations presented draw good folks into bad behavior.
There are four qualified guys running for the open commissioner seat in my area. I knew nothing about three of them so my husband and I went to the local candidate forum. That’s when it happened.
He said, He said… but who’s telling the truth?
A few days earlier we received a campaign letter from the challenger. I knew enough of the history of both guys to know that the “facts” presented in the letter were slanted and not worthy of the man I knew. At the forum that evening the current judge swayed to the negative and gave a list of “facts” about his opponent that were troubling if true. My friend’s delivery was completely out of character.
I spoke with both candidates that evening after the forum; the challenger in the parking lot and the present judge by telephone. My concerns were (1) what really motivated the challenger to run, (2) what caused the present judge to go negative, and (3) in addition to the glass half full – glass half empty rhetoric I wanted to know the truth of the facts material to my choice of a judge. Not only did I want the truth but I wanted to know who mis-represented it. After all, this is an election for a judge who will preside over the most serious and complicated cases in our district.
The Rumor Mill and Christian Faith
There’s no need to go into the details here. I’m writing this piece for others who may begin to feel the sticky stinky dirt of the political process adhering to their sandals. As is my habit, when I have a question I go to the source and ask. Preachers, politicians, seminar presenters, etc. – no one is safe. I ask. When I say I’m a simple person you can take that to the bank.
The basic qualifications of the challenger were addressed at the forum. The answers given by the candidates were mutually exclusive. Only one spoke truthfully. But, which one? After researching the issue myself I found nothing to support the challenger’s claim. So, I called his campaign/law office. This is politics and I am well aware of how facts are stretched and massaged past recognition. The challenger made a specific reference and I asked for the details (which were a public record I couldn’t find.) When I spoke to his representative I specifically said I did not want to jump to any conclusions without asking the question directly. So, I was asking.
How did I get into politics again? All I wanted was the truth. Truth is good, especially when the office in question is district judge!
After repeated attempts to get the information from the challenger the promised email has not arrived and my calls have not been returned. The story actually gets far more involved and includes one of our state representatives. But, that rabbit hole isn’t relevant to this post except that the rumor mill is still grinding.
When you don’t know what to do, pray.
Last night we attended another candidate forum. I visited with my friend the judge the day before to see where his head was at. My concern wasn’t about the election but about my friend. I prayed before I spoke with him and was comforted by the tone and content of our conversation. My friend’s message at the forum was powerful, positive, and passionate.
Rumors and gossip only have power if we allow it. Before leaving for the forum I became aware of new rumor. So, I sat down in my chair and prayed again. I prayed the same prayer for both candidates and their families. As I tried to nail down exactly what I was praying for this scripture came to mind. My spirit was settled and all matters resolved.
Psalm 15 – The Character of Those Who May Dwell With the Lord
Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
The Fruit of Christian Politics
When politics collides with faith one of two things will happen. In one case faith wins the day and peace reigns regardless of the election results. When the temptation of politics trumps faith there is dissension and relationships are damaged.
Pray for our nation. Pray for those who hold or seek elective office. Pray Psalm 15. When in doubt, just remember that we are known by the fruit of our works.
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