Distorted Mirrors: What Our Candidates Tell Us About Ourselves


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Snark Meter Sorta Snarky.002

I’m doing it. I am adding to the word count on the two people Americans are most tired of talking about. Fret not, though. I won’t bore you with my opining on their political positions, policies, or personal lives. I just want to ponder for a moment what our candidates’ very public moral and ethical question marks might say about where we are as a nation.

Consider a few previous presidents…

  • After a historic religious revival[1], a revolution, and inventing government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” we picked a leader of self-restraint. One who stood for virtue and honesty. George Washington reflected our values.
  • In 1860 a single injustice cast a pall over America. We elected a single issue President with the resolve to oppose that injustice. Abraham Lincoln reflected our values.
  • In the 1930’s, with the economy crippled by the Depression. America chose a president who was crippled, yet courageous. Franklin Roosevelt reflected our values.
  • In the 1950’s, wanting to stand up against the spread of communism, we elected the general who won WWII. Ike reflected our values.

Many have fretted about what so and so’s beliefs and leadership will do to our future. But it seems our leaders don’t shape our beliefs as much as reflect them back to us.  If so, do you like what you see when you look into our collective mirror? While this may be cringe provoking, especially considering Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s historically high unfavorable ratings, is it possible that our candidates are simply our values and our behaviors staring back at us?

Perhaps we need to ask some hard questions about our ethics…how morally upright is our thought life and media usage? What about our conspicuous consumption…and fears…or the effects of millions of us cutting corners and winking away little dishonesties. What about the anger? Moses told the people, “Your sins will find you out.”[2]

Perhaps our candidates are just the public face of our private selves being found out?

We are fooling ourselves to think our candidates are “them.” The cartoon character Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!” Surely our candidates moral peccadillos are, at some level, a reflection of our own weak moral knees and the fact that we no longer seem to spend much time on them.

What should one do when looking into a mirror and not liking what is looking back? Surely the answer is not to try to alter the mirror, but to fix what the mirror is reflecting. Perhaps the place to start is in the privacy of the voting booth. When you go into that booth Tuesday, I encourage you to see the candidates for what they are: Flawed humans who are a little too much like you and I for comfort. Say a prayer for each of them. Say a prayer for your nation. Then cast yourself upon the mercy of God. And when you leave that booth, go and love and serve, nurture and nourish each and every person you meet. That way, when we look into the voting booth shaped mirror four years from now, we might feel a little better about what we see looking back.

*“Where are we?” Link to Sermon containing this idea. Text: Hebrews 11:1-11

[1] The Great Awakening

[2] Numbers 32:23



14 thoughts on “Distorted Mirrors: What Our Candidates Tell Us About Ourselves

  1. Best political commentary I have read in the last two years! Passing this on to everyone I know. God bless you, Matt…wisdom from above.

  2. Very good. The top get away with stuff because we get away with stuff frequently. Heck they’ll give it to us by the shovel full and we accept it and want more. How few stand with workers at Walmart, how many bought into the sub-prime crisis? Paul Harvey once said, “You can’t have self government without self-discipline.”

  3. Awesome blog! We need more preachers, teachers, daddies and leaders to bring our attention to this harsh truth. At the risk of sounding self-serving…I wrote this piece to express the same sentiment:

    My thoughts on the state of affairs:

    God left us here to be salt and light in a wicked world;
    God said he would empower us to accomplish this task;
    God said he would be with us while we do the work;
    God said our work would not return void.

    Our elected officials, candidates for office and the voting masses are a reflection of the populace…whether we like to admit it or not.

    We are left with three possible conclusions:
    God left us holding the bag and didn’t empower us;
    His plan for salt and light was a fools errand;
    We didn’t do the work.

    If, then, we didn’t do the work, the quality of candidates, and the acumen of the voting masses, is our own fault and the Biblical examples of Nehemiah and Daniel instruct us to get on our knees and own the fault…and go to work FOR the resulting government and society, doing the best we know how to model for them a loving God who forgives, but holds people accountable for their sinful actions…or non-actions. That work includes civic responsibility.

    If I am correct, then jumping up and standing on moral high ground now is self-righteous in the extreme and quite possibly insulting to God himself. We would never tolerate our children telling us that they were too good to do the hard work of cleaning up after themselves…much less tolerate them looking us in the eye and asking us, however piously, to do it for them.

    And, to draw a line and declare that “this is a moral deficiency too far” is to take upon ourselves the responsibility for deciding just where that line should be…can we all agree, Biblically, at what point a candidate becomes righteous enough to merit our vote? It is the same decision.

    Asking God, however fervently, to heal our Nation, irrespective of our work ethic is presumption.

    I am reminded of the Northern Tribes of Israel at the end…they had withheld their salt and light…so much so that their children embraced idolatry. Until it became obvious that Sennacherib and his Assyrian Armies were going to come. Scripture records that Israel got very serious about their faith, sacrificing fervently and praying and fasting. Scripture ends the account like this, “Even after all of this, Sennacherib came.”

    Is it over for America? I don’t think so…but only if salt and light is applied liberally and strategically. God said he would help…

    As for me and my house…we will be casting votes for the candidate that has the best (comparative) chance (however small) of advancing an agenda that will allow us the opportunity to be salt and light, to preserve this Great Nation for God’s work, to allow us to claim a “project family” and work to introduce them to the God we serve.

    Statistically, if we all do only that much, the next election cycle will be very different and the course of this Nation will change.

    Darrell Kincaid

  4. Thank you, Matt. It’s good that we are being invited to prayerfully approach the privilege we have been given to thoughtfully participate in the election process. The insightful comments here, including yours, are well taken!!

    Other thoughts that I have read concerning this topic include the following:
    1. It’s very important to take time to become informed about candidates and issues, using a variety of reliable sources.
    2. We must be morally informed and conscientious citizens also, who see voting as a civic duty. To do so, we need to distinguish between those issues essential for Christians and those that are matters of prudential judgment. There can be no debate for Christians when it comes to essential issues.
    3. “Vote as your conscience informs you. And allow your faith to inform your conscience”.

    • Indeed! …our real citizenship may be in heaven (Philippians 3:12-22), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show up and know who the candidates are and what they stand for. …especially for the folk that effect our lives on a daily basis like city council, school boards and judges.

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