Faith and Politics - What's the right mix?

It is always interesting to talk to people of all political persuasions about what is important to them in a candidate, especially at the federal level. The responses of course vary from “someone who looks out for the little guys” to “someone who will let me keep my gun” to “a strong christian who will stop abortion” to “someone who will get all those right-wing-nut radicals off our backs and let us live”.

As we approach the 2010 mid-terms, the question of our “must haves” becomes hugely important as we choose who to back. In some ways I think making this list is harder for people of faith BECAUSE of our belief in absolutes. (Just as a disclaimer, I am a strong person of faith and have worshipped in many denominations in the course of my life, from Greek Orthodox to Pentecostal)

Looking for the right candidate is just about as difficult as looking for the right date, which will hopefully lead to some sort of long-term commitment. Since my spouse/soul-mate is deceased, I occasionally am in that looking-for-a-date mode.  Anyway, in that instance, they must be a Christian because if they are not, there will be too much conflict about some day to day things. Like why do I have to be gone on Sunday and Wednesday. Why do I need that time alone in the morning? Why do I continue to spend time with my mother even though she drives me crazy and always upsets me?

However, when I look at a candidate – I know this will upset some folks – their faith is not the most important issue, because I am not choosing them for my day to day companion. For many people faith is very private and they may not want to share what they believe. For many Christians however, the candidate being a Christian is their be-all and end-all qualification.

I know many military people who I would love to see run for office because they know how to get things done, and their basic philosophy about our country, our rights, work ethic, our constitution, etc. agrees with what I think is best of for the overall good. I don’t know a thing about their faith. Most of them probably have some degree of faith experience – but generally are quite private about it.

Back to the dating thing – I am usually attracted to certain types, and those certain types have that strong internal compass of fairness, strength and love of country.   As it turns out, when I find those things, it often turns out that the person has an inner moral code that comes from some faith background, whether from their parents or from their own experience.  The same is often true of candidates.

Informal survey time – What are the 3-5 most important qualifications in YOUR must have list for President/Senator/Congressional Representative?

Here are mine:

1. Promise to abide by the constitution and evidence that they have done so in the past.
2. Proven executive experience in trimming the excess/waste from the operations of a corporation, state, or city – and proven ability to demand and move toward a balanced budget
3. The determination, expertise and courage to protect our country against all enemies foreign and domestic.
4. The belief that THIS country is the best country on earth and that we are able to govern ourselves with no interference from “the international community” or its laws.
5. A person who has not been in politics from cradle to present – who has had some real world experience outside of academia and government.

(notice I did not list abortion – because for me – while I am totally pro-life – it came in at number 6 on my list for federal level candidates)