Essay by Ron Kirk
I often hear complaints these days from conservative Christians over what Glenn Beck recently called “the binary choice” for president. Why should we limit ourselves to two choices? The more democratic process we typically see in European politics presents many more choices for high office. Isn’t competition healthy? Why doesn’t the United States follow this pattern?
Lamenting this limited choice for the highest national office demonstrates a more lamentable misunderstanding of the early American political heritage. This heritage provided a non-partisan base for electoral politics grounded in true local representation known as republican. In its best and once typical form, for example, the unified family expressed its public opinion and choice, through its representative—its head, the husband and father. A great burden thus rested upon the man of God truly to represent his wife and children, as true members of God’s family, each with inherent value and purpose towards eternity.
In the original American system, primaries did not exist. Primaries were a democratic innovation destined to undermine American Constitutionalism. Rather under the historic system of American local self-government, greater federal spheres provided for larger scales of authority without violating the local. Each expanding sphere governs a greater geographic and population scope, but with less and less power over the individual, more local spheres. The greater spheres hold power not already held by local authorities, in order to cover greater extents of territory. For example, a federal judicial authority over states can decide cases between them, or between individuals in different states. Likewise, criminals who cross local jurisdictions to avoid prosecution fall under a greater jurisdiction.
Provision for handling trans-jurisdictional cases and for appeals in case of possible local injustice, are the very reasons God granted greater spheres of justice through Moses. Thus, we traditionally knew government of neighborhood, towns, cities, counties, states and nation. We directly adopted the idea of government over tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands, and for tribal officers (corresponding to state executives), from Deuteronomy Chapter One.
A little digression: In light of the original American republican government, we note that the current office of national president wields power entirely inconsistent with original intent under the Constitution. Today, the president’s fiat executive orders alone violate every other sphere of government, regulating and meddling into every part of our lives. In this sense, though we may not yet feel the full consequences of overriding dictatorship, we have already lost our original American liberty, designed to protect individual life, liberty and property. Even Christians no longer seem to understand that the greater the power we grant civil government, that the more liege-lordship government wields over us—often for the most self-serving purpose. In the original, government protected the individual, so that the individual could serve God, conscientiously and without interference.
Returning to our theme, we begin to understand how American politics once worked. Families in neighborhoods chose local representatives in more or less democratic local forums or caucuses. For higher offices, each sphere of jurisdiction, from the most local upwards, chose a representative or representatives for the next level. The neighborhood caucus, chose its most godly, honest and wise man to represent the neighborhood in the town. The town likewise chose from among the finest neighborhood representatives to represent the town at the city level. Likewise goes the county, and state. According to Article II in the original Constitution, the states sent their representatives to choose the president at the national level. This process thus assumed true republican representation from the home upward. In this process, we have the sound Biblical basis for the Electoral College, which today suffers from criticism even from those who should be its friends.
Those who criticize the choice between only two candidates underestimate the great sifting that has already gone before, literally from decades of political activity preceding it. Even in our decadent and corrupted form, a great sifting process starting at the local level serves to produce the final two choices.
If Christians wish to see a restored republic, we must first educate ourselves in our unique, Christian history—its Biblical philosophy of relational government—and regain the wisdom this way requires. Moreover, we must regain the skills of republican government, practicing them in our homes, businesses, homeowner associations, cities and beyond. We must be willing to serve in civil office, understanding that America is a do-it yourself nation. When the godly neglect it, we must be aware that the wicked will fill up the void we leave. We must realize our civil stewardship is Great Commission stewardship. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do (Ps 11:3)? We must remember with Solomon, that when the wicked rule, the people groan, but when the righteous thrive (in their civil influence), the people rejoice (Prov 29:2)!
Those who criticize our two party system, but do nothing but throw away their vote in conscientious objection to a candidate already sifted out of contention or sit out altogether, do little-to-nothing to restore America’s heritage of righteous government, which primarily consists, once more in the protection of individual life, liberty and property against the wicked tyrants of the world. How can we allow ourselves to be so derelict?
There is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, but God does correct and chasten. Let us fear God. Now, even before this impending election, may we commit every available resource to restoring not only godly leadership, but also the godly social and political system that once made America prosperous, free and generous. And may we vote, by God’s mercy, to allow time to repent and restore what we have irresponsibly already yielded.
To learn more of the early American Christian view of life, government and education, see the Nordskog Publishing title by Ron Kirk Thy Will Be Done: When All Nations Call God Blessed.
Ron is the manuscript review and theology editor for Nordskog Publishing, and the editor of this newsletter. A family man, ordained minister, and missionary, Ron crafted a thoroughly Biblical approach called Get Wisdom! to child and adult education making use of the best examples of history over three decades—work which continues to this day.