Some Lessons Learned at the Polls
In November I became the Majority Inspector of Elections in my county. My first foray into the jungle of election administration was during the primaries. I served with three others at our election site and I learned a lesson or two that I would like to pass along. But let me clear up the why question before I start. Why did I do it? Why did I seek the position? Was I convicted that I should get involved at a local level, in other words, apply the doctrine of the lesser magistrate? I Did I not have enough to do? Am I skeptical about the way our government operates these days? Well, it may be two out of the three and I’ll let you decide which two!
Anyway, let’s get to the lessons. First, and this should go without saying, corruption doesn’t happen at every polling site. However, I was treated, by well meaning conservative people, like I was on Antifa’s payroll. Now, I understand the skepticism, but voters need to remember that not every poll worker is a progressive trying to undermine the country.
But this leads to the second lesson. Some Local governments are inept or corrupt or both. At about three o’clock in the afternoon on the day of the primaries our polling station ran out of Republican ballots. One of my co-workers asked the obvious rhetorical question on all of our minds, “Our county officials didn’t see this as a big year for Republican primaries?” And we weren’t the only district to run completely out of Republican ballots. At the time, I understood that there were eighteen other districts that ran out of only Republican ballots. What is more, we called to have more delivered and those ballots never arrived. So, in the end Republican voters were forced to use a single machine for site impaired people, which meant that they had to vote one person at a time. Though less than a fourth of all registered voters turned out we still had lines of Republicans waiting to vote because of our county.
The third lesson I learned is the most important. The Left has substituted religion for politics. It’s not that they aren’t religious, they are! Their religion is politics. As I spoke to my fellow poll workers, who made it known to me that they were liberal Democrats, it became apparent that many poll workers knew one another very well. What is more, they said, poll working is generational. I heard stories about how grandfathers worked the polls and how they involved their children and when those children grew up they got their children involved. It was a generational practice. Some poll workers were described as “legendary” in their experience and hours committed to the work of poll working. They also told me that they faithfully listened to NPR. And they were frightened of conservatives like me. At the polls that day, I clearly found myself in a secular church.
It took me a couple of weeks to process the experience but I came to realize one thing very clearly. Christians love the church and they are involved in the life of the church. They should be! The church is the body of Christ. However, that means the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties are just that – political parties. We are not them and they are not us. Let me put it plainly, the church is not the Republican or the Democratic Party, nor should it be. But, it seems, that the Democratic Party has become the church of liberals and especially progressives. It is the place where they invest time, talent and gifts. They have their own saints and listen devotionally to programs like NPR.
So, what are we to do? Should Christians abandon the church and be all in Republicans? Hardly. But we should do something and I want to be so bold as to suggest what that something is. We should trust Christ and be fully involved in the life of the church, especially Lord’s Day activities. Where else would we be as Christian people? Second, we need to live faithfully, which means, raise godly families, be faithful at work, and take the word of God into the city gate. In other words, why wouldn’t we encourage people to run for offices and become lesser magistrates like Daniel? Why not?
Christians today are making some profound mistakes. When speaking of things that progressives approve (e.g. homosexuality, transgenderism, etc.) they hush their voices. They live in fear. What is more, they either trust leaders who have demonstrated that they are untrustworthy or they are burying their heads in the sand, whether that takes shape as whistling in the dark or establishing their own Christian communes. Either is a recipe for disaster. Either is not living a faithful Christian life in the church, family and within the city gates. Maybe I should add for clarity, this means not being ashamed of Him who is your Lord when serving in the city gates but instead speaking of Him even in the gates of the city. It's time for our nation to kiss the Son (Psalm 2:11-12) and that begins with our own reverent obedience to the One we call Lord.
Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. He is also Professor of New Testament Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. Jeff is the Senior Editor of Place for Truth (placefortruth.org) an online magazine for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.