Why would a man like myself, who has voted the straight Republican ticket since 1972, choose to vote Democratic now? Good question. Let’s go back a few years. . .
Once there was a man named Franklin Roosevelt who was elected President during a very tough time. He was from a very wealthy family. Some called him “patrician.” But, once in office, he began doing things aimed at helping the unemployed and other poor. He focused on getting people back to work, and if work was not available, he used government to create jobs so that people could earn a living. He also worked to make things better for the “common man” in general. He led Congress to create the Social Security system and enact the first minimum wage.
His fellow patricians hated him, saying that he had “betrayed his class” by putting the interests of workers ahead of the interests of the wealthy. But the great majority of Americans loved him, and they elected him—and re-elected him—in some of the greatest landslides in presidential history, despite the ceaseless efforts of the wealthy to thwart his plans and unseat him from office.
As a young person I did not have personal familiarity with Roosevelt’s legacy. I took his accomplishments for granted. I accepted the arguments of conservatives that free market capitalism is better than socialism, and low taxes are better than high. I applauded Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” outlook. As a Christian, I sided with the Republicans on social issues. And I kept on voting for Republicans up through Mitt Romney.
What finally turned me was the Republicans’ visceral opposition to “Obamacare.” Every Republican candidate is promising to have Obamacare repealed, and I don’t want it repealed. Beyond that, I have come to see something I missed earlier: free market capitalism may be a good system in broad, but I was not sufficiently attentive to its weaknesses. Pope Francis nailed it when he said that “unfettered” capitalism is evil. He did not say all capitalism is evil, but he was absolutely right regarding capitalism with no restraints. And today’s Republicans clearly want to re-establish the sort of unfettered capitalism that reigned before Roosevelt took office. I know—from being an insider—that they would like not just to “reign in” but to literally abolish all forms of government “charity,” which would include Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits, and even the minimum wage. They speak with the voice of Franklin Roosevelt’s wealthy opponents. If they could, they would undo the entire New Deal. (They can’t undo it all, but they will take away as much as they can.)
I still am a social conservative, but I concede that a genuine commitment to “freedom of conscience” (for which Baptists and other Independent Christians have led the fight through the years) means I have no business working against the free will of others if my own personal interests are not directly involved.
It is my sincere hope that Bernie Sanders becomes the next President. But if he does not win the nomination, I still intend to vote Democratic because ultra-conservative Republicans have gone too far in tilting the field in favor of the wealthy and against the “common man.” My reasons for hoping this come entirely from my plain-sense understanding of the Bible. And when general election campaign time comes, I intend to do what I can to persuade other Christians that today’s “liberal” agenda is closer to Biblical truth than is the Republican agenda. Neither agenda is perfect, of course, but the liberal one is more Christian.