How should we approach the upcoming mid-term elections? With a focus on today’s 24/7 headlines, or with a longer term perspective?  Are the elections, as President Trump claims, all about him, or larger issues?

As a Christian conservative with strong libertarian leanings, what are my guiding principles for voting? And, by the way, I know that there is only one true Savior, and he is not any politician, party or government.

The founding document for our nation, the Declaration of Independence, declares that every human being is created equal and has certain inalienable rights that are given to her or him by God, not by the government. Our Constitution, the “By-Laws” if you will for how our nation is to operate, as David Barton describes it, makes clear that the government serves at the will of the people, whose rights and duties do not flow from that government, but rather the other way around.

Also, because our Founders understood our fallen nature, they did not believe in perfecting some group to rule our nation (as was the case in every other revolution), but rather in our individual freedom to pursue our self-interests in the public square, so long as we do not unfairly subvert others. We thereby rely on the resulting checks and balances between economic and political groups to advance only those issues over which there is true consensus (often reached through compromise), arbitrated by a free and independent press, focused on upholding the truth.

And my personal observation is to confirm that Power Corrupts. Even in the best of us. In families, companies, groups and governments. It takes an exceptional, virtuous servant leader, grounded in humility and faith, to focus on what is best for others, or for the nation, rather than on his or her personal gain, or for the advantage of his group. [As an aside to this discussion, that virtuous servant leadership is what fathers in particular are supposed to model in families, so that the next generation recognizes and embraces it]. This truth gives even more credence to the necessity for checks and balances.

With checks and balances, virtuous leaders can still emerge. Without them, we are doomed to being ruled by one corrupt group or the other.

My long term desire is therefore for our nation to be grounded on limited government, individual freedoms and responsibilities, the rule of law, equal access to educational, economic and political opportunities, minimal corrupting entitlements, free trade, care for those truly in need with no other support, and a fiercely free press without any agenda but the truth.

In this election, I will therefore look for those candidates who are most likely to move us toward, rather than away from, those guiding principles. And that will mean understanding what each individual candidate stands for on these issues.

While individuals are all different, as a general rule I suspect that I will not find many of those principles upheld by those currently flying the Democrat banner. Right now they appear to be obsessed with weaponized Identity Politics (see this earlier post), bankrupting entitlements, more taxes and regulations, and impeaching the President.

Nor am I impressed with those flying the Trump banner, but happily he is not on the ballot this fall. Like many in 2016 I made a bet on the uncertainty of his personality over the certainty of Democratic policies (see this post), and now he is President. While I concur with many of his policies, except on international trade, which have created an economic Renaissance in our nation, and am delighted by his judicial choices, he does not appear to be a servant leader. I have never met him and could of course be wrong, but he appears to think of himself first in every case and on every issue. He is often petty. He demeans others. Loyalty flows only one way for him. He has apparently been serially unfaithful to his wives. Honor, humility, intellect and virtue describe the hallmarks of a servant leader. Clearly, based on what I have seen, these qualities do not describe Donald Trump.

But he is not on the ballot this fall. The nation will decide between him and whomever the Democrats and Independents put forward for President in two years. For now we have local elections, along with choosing all the members of the House, and one-third of the Senate.

Since I dislike Trump as a corrupted-by-power individual, but I believe that the current Democratic leaders (and their enablers in the D.C. establishment and the press) are equally as corrupted-by-power, though in more devious and hidden ways–see the FBI inner circle, the FISA warrants, and the Kavanaugh Ambush–I will be looking closely at conservative and independent candidates who in the worst case will not move us further away from what the Founders intended, and in the best case may actually help reestablish the ideals enumerated above, along with the concept of servant leadership.

So this election is a very important holding action to keep reasonable and conservative policies in place, with even more possible. Policies are important to our everyday lives, as well as to the future of our country. I will not stay home. The stakes are too high to sit out. And I will encourage others.

If the Democrats sweep in, we will have a strategic mess with bad policies, and a tactical mess with daily investigations to get-Trump.

If Republicans are able to increase their numbers in Congress so that they can actually govern, and they focus on what is truly best for our nation, we might wind up with real Immigration Reform (protecting our borders while allowing those already here a path to citizenship), a better tax code, more constructionist judges, freer trade, and less government in general.

Bottom line: Despite our President proclaiming that these elections are about him, thankfully they are not.  These elections will primarily impact policies, so our focus needs to be there, not on him. But I also long for more servant leadership on all sides and in all offices.

Based on these important policy issues, I will be voting for conservative candidates in November. The alternative appears to be Identity Politics at its worst, condemning good people for her or his race or gender, never mind their beliefs.

If you agree with at least some of these conclusions, I hope that you will share this post.