Cross-posted (and slightly edited) from my blog Formidable Courage.
I feel like I’ve been on a long journey for the past few weeks. In a hypothetical sense I’ve been on the walls of the Alamo. I’ve looked out beyond the San Antonio River at the Mexican army, and then looked over my shoulder to the east where the safe, easy choice lies. And then I’ve looked down from my perch at my fellow soldiers, and wondered whether it was worth it to stand by them…or flee.
In the same hypothetical sense, however, I’ve now crossed William Travis’ line, and I’m not looking back.
If you’ve been reading my blog or following my Twitter account for the past few weeks, you know that I had been flirting with the idea of supporting Rick Santorum. In some ways that was a good thing. It’s forced me to strengthen my own stance on abortion, which has become an enormous priority for me. That fact alone earned me not only withering scorn, but also one unbelievably cruel comment on my blog.
“You have enemies? Good. That means you stood up for something, sometime in your life.” –Winston Churchill
That’s okay–I don’t care what people think about me, because I fear God, not man. I’ve been so convicted in the past weeks, realizing that I haven’t cared about murdered babies as much as I should. Nothing will stop me from speaking the truth about this Holocaust. If you don’t like that–if you think it’s “sick” or “uncivilized” or “provocative”–well, I’m sorry. Truth hurts sometimes but it must be spoken, and God has given me a conviction on this issue than no man or woman will shake.
“I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.”–Martin Luther [emphasis mine]
But back to Santorum. My brief time in the Santorum camp also allowed me to look more closely at another candidate’s record–which can only be a profitable thing. I feel like I was educated, strengthened, and challenged in my beliefs on various political issues.
But I could never come out and support Santorum. In the back of my mind there was always this nagging disquiet, because although abortion is my #1 priority, and although I think Santorum is the most pro-life candidate left on the stage . . . fiscal issues are still very important to me.
And Santorum is a disaster fiscally.
While I was vacationing in Texas, the GOP primary was ever-present in the back of my mind. There were several reasons for that. I was able to keep up with the news while we were in our hotel room. I met a young man who expressed support for Rick Santorum. I flipped open a Texas state map and saw a picture of Rick Perry. More disturbing, I saw an Obama/Biden bumper sticker at the Johnson Space Center.
But there were messages spoken at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (which we attended that week) that stuck in my mind, too. A clarion call to speak truth boldly to the culture, to seek the Lord in all our decisions. To be bold, to be brave, to stand on Biblical principle no matter what comes against you. A line from a movie we watched–Seven Days in Utopia–held me captive. A young golfer is struggling and his mentor, an old man, offers him some advice:
The toughest challenge you’ll face isn’t the golf course or even your competitor’s score. It’s that casual comment offered by someone, anyone, about how you should be doing it. If you don’t have conviction about where your foundation is, that off-handed comment will take you out of your game and erode your confidence.
Conviction. Foundation. Off-handed comments. Eroded confidence. Aren’t those the things I’ve been struggling with these past few weeks? Was my lukewarm support for Rick Santorum birthed out of conviction and foundation? As far as pro-life issues go, yes. But wasn’t I the one who railed against Christians who ignored the other issues completely? Although a candidate’s stance on abortion should be tantamount–because, like it or not, abortion is morally equivalent to the Jewish Holocaust–it isn’t the only important issue.
Was my lukewarm support for Rick Santorum, then, birthed out of eroded confidence–fear that my vote might be wasted–terror that if I didn’t vote for SOMEBODY, Romney would prevail? The primary rules in Louisiana favor Romney and Paul; I know for a fact that I was thinking, “Maybe I should vote Santorum only because it would give him a chance at grabbing those delegates.”
Fear is the cruelest and most dangerous emotion, because if you’re not careful it’ll drive you to do the wrong thing for the right reason.
I was really struggling. I was trying to express myself to my parents and to my friends, but there was always something I couldn’t explain or put my finger on. I sent a mournful message to William Kronert (AKA “Bzip”) at the Tea and Fed Up blog:
. . . I don’t like Santorum, and yet I prefer Santorum over the other three–but they’re all SO inferior to Perry it’s not funny. Surely our best chance to get Perry is a brokered convention, but how will we get that if Romney gets the majority of delegates???? I want to show my support for Perry in any way possible, but would a strategic vote for someone else serve him better for a victory in Tampa?
William wrote me back:
. . . The reason why we are in the mess we are in is because people were so obsessed with a Not-Romney candidate that they walk[ed] away from principles and went from candidate to candidate up and down instead of staying true.
To me I don’t look at this race as a lets pick a Not-Romney candidate, I look at who is the best most principled candidate and stick with that person through thick and thin and if everyone did that I don’t think we would be having this discussion. [emphasis mine]
This courageous response was like a bucket of icy water dumped on my head. Not only that, but then another friend shared this quote with me:
“Always vote for principle, though we may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”–John Quincy Adams [emphasis mine]
“Aren’t you answering your own question?” my mom asked me when I came to her with all these thoughts. “Don’t you know what you should do by this point?”
Well, I know now. And the other night, in a hypothetical sense, I jumped off the Alamo wall and into the fortress itself, and crossed the line in the sand.
What I’m going to do may anger some people. I’ve already been mocked a couple of times and told I’ll “waste my vote.” Well, I don’t care. My concern is that I serve and honor the Lord in all I do, say, and think. I’m not worried about what others say about me. Those men in the Alamo weren’t concerning themselves with the taunts of the Mexican army, either. They were more concerned about standing their ground and laying down their lives for what was true and right, even if it cost them their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
Some may also say that I’m pining for a perfect candidate. No, I’m not. My candidate isn’t perfect because no one is–but some candidates deserve my vote more than others. Some match my values–both socially and fiscally–more than others. Some have more integrity than others. Some are more honest, hard-working, responsible, and courageous than others.
So on March 24, I’m going to vote for the man who honors Jesus Christ with his life, who has shut down 13 Planned Parenthood offices and balanced his state’s budget, who has declared that every life is precious and that we must return to biblical economics, who has defended traditional marriage and presided over one of the most successful economies in the world.
I will vote for the man who’s talked the talk and walked the walk. I will vote for the man who’s sacrificed personal comfort and political convenience to do the right thing, even when it hurts–and I mean “when it hurts” in both a physical, mental, and political sense. I will vote for the man who has been unafraid to speak truth even when it costs him one way or the other.
I will vote on principle for a man who’s not even running anymore, but thank God, his name is still on the Louisiana ballot. Is that a vote for Romney? Well, some may think it is, but I beg to differ.
On the contrary, it’s a solid vote of conviction for Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, and no off-handed comment will erode the confidence I have that I’m doing exactly what God wants me to do.