Jesus Voting Republican Would Be A Miracle

I swear I’m not a democrat. Sure, I still have an “I ♥ Barack” bumper sticker on my car from the 2008 election, but the heart has completely worn off, so now it just says “I   Barack.” I tell people it’s quoting the first two words of President Obama being sworn in…. I don’t put any faith in the democratic party to fix what is wrong with this country. I really don’t. My Hope for Change has nothing to do with Barack Obama. Don’t get me wrong–I like the guy. I like listening to him talk. I think he is smart, he is genuinely trying to do the right thing, and he has integrity. But electing more democrats to office than republicans is not the solution to the problems this country or this world is facing…. For me (and probably for a lot of other people) voting for a democrat is only the right choice when considering the alternative–I am only a democrat insofar as I am SO NOT a republican.

Images of Jesus always portray him with such a nicely manicured beard. This is one of my favorites, though not as much since I realized it resembles The King in the Burger King commercials…. I suppose that’s appropriate.

Our foundational beliefs shape our political decisions, and what I believe about Jesus profoundly shapes my own politics. If we’re taking sides between the rich and the poor, I’m siding with the poor. And it’s not just because I am poor–Relatively speaking, of course. In this country, I’m on the poor end of the spectrum, but compared to most of the world I live like a king–but also because I believe Jesus calls us to be on the side of the poor. It seems to me that the republican party is far more concerned with the rights of the rich to keep as much of their money as possible than they are with the rights of poor who are being exploited in order to build the fortunes of the rich. One party is the party of “I” and the other (more so, at least) is the party of “WE.” I know it’s not as simple as “Rich vs. Poor” or “I vs. We,” but there truly has been a shift in the republican party recently that is so foundationally contradictory to the gospel of Jesus Christ that it leaves me bewildered and discouraged as to why the church can’t see it. One of the symptoms of this contradiction is the worship and discipleship of conservatives and republicans around the teachings of Ayn Rand.

She looks like quite a charmer.

I’d say most people probably don’t know that much about Ayn Rand. If you don’t know anything about her, you should do a little research, as she is an interesting figure in philosophical/economic/political thought. She basically came up with a philosophical system called “Objectivism” that championed “The Virtue of Selfishness,” and believed that man’s pursuit of his own “rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.”  She is one of the heroes of capitalist theory, and therefore one of the heroes of many of today’s conservative politicians–People like Ron Paul and his son Senator Rand Paul, Alan Greenspan, Clarence Thomas, and Mitt Romney’s new vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan. By the way, “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan” anagrams to “My ultimate Ayn Rand porn.” Coincidence? I think not.

This attack ad questions the giant crush republicans have on Ayn Rand:

Here are some things that Paul Ryan, who credits Ayn Rand’s writings with getting him into public service, has said about her:

  • He said that her books are “required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.”
  • “Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most.” Here is Ryan in 2009 explaining his Ayn Rand-sized infatuation.
  • “It doesn’t surprise me that sales of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged have surged lately with the Obama administration coming in, because it’s that kind of thinking, that kind of writing that is sorely needed right now.”
  • “I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much….”

Then, in March of 2012, Catholics United criticized Paul Ryan (a Catholic) about the idealogical erection (my terminology, not theirs) he has for Rand (an Atheist) with this this statement:

“We question why Ryan, a self-professed Catholic, would put the teachings of ultra-capitalist Ayn Rand (of whom he has spoken glowingly) before the teachings of Jesus and the Catholic Church…. Rand, whose doctrine states self-sacrifice for one’s friends—a core tenet of Christianity—is akin to slavery, teaches the value of the self over all others. In her worldview, self-interest and greed take the place of a higher power.”

Say what you want about his policies…. If his budget plan is half as good as his workout plan, count me in!

Since this press release, and even more since the announcement that he is Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan has backtracked on his “Randiness,” if you will. He is now saying that his characterization as a Randian/Objectivist thinker is an “urban legend.” Now he is saying things like “I reject her philosophy. It is an atheist philosophy.” This from a man who said that the three books he reads the most are The Bible (well duh–he’s a politician), Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom , and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. This sudden change of heart seems at its best insincere, and at its worst horse shit.

This just about sums it up…. And there is that beard again! Jesus’ looks nice too. By the way, Ayn Rand ended up taking Social Security under her husband’s name when her personal desire to smoke two packs a day gave her lung cancer.

Really though, it makes sense for him to distance himself from Ayn Rand, and here’s why: You can follow the teachings of Ayn Rand, or you can follow the teachings of Jesus, but you can’t follow both. The selfishness of Ayn Rand’s philosophy was way too in your face–republicans leaders need their worship of the rich to be more nuanced. This is a woman who referred to all the poor as “moochers” and worshiped the dollar above all else–She was rarely seen without her trademark dollar symbol broach, and even arranged for a floral dollar symbol at her funeral. In her diaries, she even went so far as to idolize a mass murderer named William Hickman, whom she called “a superman” for his ability to not care about anything but his own desires. Yet this is the philosophical and moral foundation for the Social Darwinism that much of the republican party is running on. How strange that a party who rejects any theories of evolution would embrace such a hardcore, “survival of the fittest” economic theory…. How incongruent that the party of the “Christian right” could find it possible to have a functioning moral compass with the two poler opposites of Jesus and Ayn Rand….

I’d rather vote for this Mitt.

And that is the reason I can’t let myself vote republican at this time in our nation’s history–Not because I am a “democrat” (whatever that means), or because I want more taxes or bigger government or a welfare state. I don’t. I, like most people, want a government that is effective and doesn’t spend more than it takes in. I think that people like Mitt Romney with stupid amounts of money shouldn’t pay a lower percentage in taxes than the people who work for them. And I think that most people want to work, and having a system that rewards hard work seems to function pretty well. But I believe that part of having a society (and a government) is looking out for each other’s needs–especially the needs of the poor and the powerless. I would rather we cut military spending before we cut social programs. I believe that the “WE” is at least as (if not more) important than the “I.” Do I think Obama winning this election is going to bring us closer to this ideal? Maybe…. Probably not, but at least it’s not moving us in the whole other direction. It’s not the fact that I am a democrat that keeps me from voting republican…. It’s the fact that I’m a Christian. 

“The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.” ~ Adam Smith, Scottish political economist

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” ~ Jesus

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25 Responses to Jesus Voting Republican Would Be A Miracle

  1. Eileen says:

    Amen! Well written, as usual.

  2. eldrector says:

    I tried to leave a comment here earlier. Did it not make it from my account (I had to re-set my password), or is it being moderated?

    • theboeskool says:

      Nope, I don’t believe in moderation–On the Blog or in life. : ) I haven’t seen it…. But the internet has been smoking crack today. I hope you didn’t put all kinds of thought into a comment just to lose it. That is the worst.

      Do you remember the gist?

  3. Nice comments Chris. A few contrary thoughts….
    I am a Christian, and I like Ayn Rand.
    There, I said it.
    I also like the Rolling Stones. Yes, Mick and his buddies are/were not exactly the role models I would hold out for my kids in terms of parties, drugs, and sex. And some of those lyrics…downright suggestive, even awful. But I enjoy listening to their music on occasion.
    Perhaps that’s not a perfect analogy; I know Rand’s personal life was a mess, and in fact, she lived out her selfish ideas and alienated all sorts of people. And her philosophy might cause people to give away less money to charities. And I wouldn’t ever say I “follow” her (I follow Jesus) no more than I say I “follow” Jefferson or Madison or Obama. But she was absolutely no apologist for big business (she would denounce corporate welfare…I’m sure she wouldn’t be upholding those crazy ethanol policies) and gave an interesting case for capitalism, and made one not entirely wrong point: that much evil comes from altruism. Good intentions can kill. So I have my students read Rand and we discuss her idea of the “virtue of selfishness” and I think that is well and good. And though any atheist’s ideas (Marx; Rousseau; Rand) are antithetical to Christians, we can learn from them (of course, my students read Rousseau and Marx as well). I would also add that, as far as I know, Rand’s ideas haven’t indirectly killed millions of people–more than you can say for Rousseau, who said that “the fruits of the earth belongs to everyone, and the earth belongs to no one.” There’s a recipe for starvation, a la Pol Pot.
    This doesn’t mean I defend Ryan. He’s in la la land if he thinks we can avoid bankruptcy without seriously cutting defense spending. But Obama is equally (even more so, since it involves more money) deluded that we can avoid bankruptcy without reforming entitlements.

    As a (somewhat related) aside:

    I show a great little 4 minute Youtube critique of income redistribution called “George Ought to Help.” I also want to give my students an equally compelling, similarly logical defense of having governments take money from Peter and give it to Paul. Know of any?

  4. Luke says:

    Hello my brothers and sisters,
    I agree largely with the general topics you pointed out, but I would like to express a couple of caveats in general.

    1. Contrary to your conclusion, the rich do NOT pay less in taxes than the poor. In 2009, people who earned a gross 0-20,500 dollars payed -1% in taxes (they received more benefits than the money that they put into the system, statistically speaking), and those who earned a gross 180,000 dollars or more payed 29% in so far as household income and effective tax rates went. However, I think that you raise a valid point! We DO need to be in a constant state of benevolence and compassion when it comes to assisting the poor in a manner consistent with the very qualities Jesus displayed while He was alive in the flesh.
    2. You don’t address key issues like Gay Marriage rights, infanticide(abortion), and many more policies that I believe that the Republican party has in the right, in terms of how Jesus would view these things.

    It is clear that you have a heart for those who are in a position of having little, which is wonderful, praise Jesus for your compassionate soul and the conviction He has laid upon you to act by it! I don’t think that either party truly is Christ centered in everything that they do (nor do I think any will ever be) and that is why I am registered as an independent. I don’t wish to be affiliated with either party, in truth. I believe in a benevolent, fiscally sound, God-centered America, so I believe that we are on the same page 🙂

    True Peace,
    Luke Selker

  5. Robyn says:

    Thanks for this article Nicole! I totally agree with it! It seems that people are looking at mainly two positions of what the R&R ticket stands for and not looking at the men themselves. It’s almost bizarre. I remember mentioning something like to this to another Christian and the response was that biblically speaking, the Gov’t isn’t supposed to take care of the poor, the people are. Well, actually (were that true) the gov’t is ensuring that all are provided for thru taxes and programs. One of the hallmarks of most 3rd world countries is that there is no governmental provision for those in need. As far as the abortion and gay marriage issues are concerned, I don’t know why we are blind again to the point that neither the POTUS, nor Congress for that matter, have power in that area. It’s the courts that make those decisions. Case in point, I am sure that G.W. Bush is pro-life and was for the Biblical view of marriage, yet abortions continued and same sex marriages began to be legalized during his administration. (Why do people ignore that?) It’s the courts that are making those decisions. It doesn’t matter what law is passed, once it is challenged it is solely up to the courts to decide.
    How is it a Christian concept that we are not to take care of others? It was built into Judaic Law because otherwise, it would not be done. If it weren’t built into our laws, what would be done? Surely Romney agrees with this to some degree as evidenced by RomneyCare (Mass. Health Reform…which looks a LOT like ObamaCare). But I digress.
    Thanks again.

  6. Jon says:

    You are a very gifted writer, I can’t agree with almost anything you have written, but you are good.
    How have we gotten to the point where we look at Jesus in such a humanistic way? I am not a Bible scholar but I believe it says that God is unchanging. He will be the same today, tomorrow and forever. who are we to assume that just because we believe something in today’s politically correct world, that God would agree. Our ego’s are getting out of hand. I really don’t think about God as a voting member of a party I think he is a bit above that. I am pretty sure he wouldn’t stand for killing babies out of convenience, choice, or gender, just to name a few. I am not sure that “government taking care of the poor” means sending our tax dollars over sea’s to fund abortion in other countries. (That was the first Executive order signed by BHO). or mandating our tax dollars to fund these activities here in the good ole USA. I am all for helping people that NEED help but dependance has gotten out of hand.
    I am not a wealthy man by US standards either but I really don’t see the so called shift. I am not a Republican, but an independent. The jealousy and greediness of the left astounds me. The whole victim mentality is just wrong and should not be cultivated. I don’t have actual numbers to back up the individual charitable giving by individuals in either party but I would dare bet that conservatives are exceedingly more generous with THEIR money as a percentage than liberals. Look at the leadership, BHO 1% charitable giving (of which $24,000 went to his daughters as a gift) and our gifted orator of a vice president .003%, man I hope that didn’t hurt him too bad. On the other side Mit gave 19% to charity. It’s not the governments job to decide charitable giving it is the individuals. As BHO said we are our brothers keepers, unless your his brother, that doesn’t mean continued handouts.
    What about the way we are educating children in government funded schools. I don’t think that Jesus would worry to much about being politically correct and removing all prayer because it may “offend” little Timmy in the next desk. We have gotten so worried about political correctness that we have lost who we are.
    We can not use the name of Jesus when it is convenient for our cause, that goes for either side of the fence. Our pastor recently had a sermon on how we compartmentalize our faith and leave God out of certain uncomfortable ares. Wow did that hit home.
    I got a little longer than I planned, but still didn’t cover everything I could have.
    You may not believe it but I do enjoy your writings, I may not agree but that;s the beauty of our living in a free country, thanks to the military. 🙂

    • theboeskool says:

      Thanks for the compliment on my writing, Jon, but I’d rather you like my ideas than my prose.

      First off, I didn’t say that God was a member of any political party. I said that given the choice between bad and worse, I think we have a responsibility to choose bad. I believe the party that champions Ayn Rand is farther away from Jesus’ idea of community–especially if you believe America is a “Christian country” (which I don’t, but I expect you might). There were some folks in the early church who only gave HALF of their stuff to the community, and the Bible says God killed them for it (I’m not sure what to make of this).

      You say you are an independent, but I think you are the very model of modern Major evangelical republican. You start out with “God never changes” and call me egotistical for questioning the way things have been traditionally interpreted. You bemoan political correctness. You are still mad about that executive order (which Clinton did as well. It goes back and forth on party lines. All it does is cut/give funding to health clinics that are trying to help people. They are doing what they do in those countries either way, with or without the funding, and they lose funding with republican presidents, who make them out to be some sort of abortion factory, when about 3% of what those clinics do involves providing women with a medically safe option). Mad about helping people who don’t “need” it, left is jealous, victim mentality, republicans give more (they make more), handouts, prayer in schools, and wrapped things up with a tidy “Thanks to the military.” I hate to be the one to break this to you, Jon, but you might be a Republican….

      • Stacey says:

        It’s not the fact that I am a democrat that keeps me from voting republican…. It’s the fact that I’m a Christian. (but God does not choose sides).
        Dems have their followers brainwashed into believing the rich are Republican, and the poor are Democrat. If that is so, why so many RICH democrats? And there are poor Republicans as well.
        Repubs have their followers brainwashed as well into believing Obama is Satan (just summing it up).

        As a Christian, I repeat what God says in Luke 6:37 .

    • theboeskool says:

      Crap. That was probably snarkier than I meant it to be. You seem like a nice guy, Jon. That probably came off meaner than I meant it to. Thanks for reading, even though we disagree. And keep an open mind. : )

  7. Leon Oosterwijk says:

    When I read Ayn Rand’s book (Atlas Shrugged) I enjoyed it a lot. Her prose was good and the characters entertaining. Her viewpoint was not novel, but the extent to which she carried it through was refreshing. It is interesting that the philosophical establishment never really accepted her as one of their own, while based on the statements by influential leaders you quote above she had wide-reaching impact.

    I think that reading Ayn Rand is like reading a comic book. The Heroes have large muscles, and good hair and the bad guys are so clearly bad it’s easy to hate them. She wrote her book not as a rebuttal of liberalism (or labor, as it’s known in the rest of the world); but against communism, which at the time was a real political and idealogical threat to western-style capitalism. Reading it in that context you can see how her books were both successful, and important. (Nixon>Lenin)

    You can forget about all the ideals of selfishness, what her viewpoints are basically about are the same viewpoints most chicago-school economists will posit: it is all about incentives. (see freakonomics et. al.)

    When I attended MTSU, once of my classmates was a professor of PolySci at an ivy leage school. When I asked him whether he voted he said ‘no; I don’t believe in it’. Whether or not you believe in voting or not, I think it would be useful for America to pretend like it didn’t. The political and social debate in the US has degenerated to a unhealthy regurgitation of stats, quotes, talking points, etc that either favor left or right. It feels like taking black and white photos of nature, and arguing about whether the tree is black or white.

    When I was a kid I was very particular about how I wanted my blankets. I would spend a long time making them just-so. Putting my stuffed animals in all the right places, and folding the sheets exactly how they should be. It was very tiring and frustrating. Finally, one night after an especially recalcitrant duvet cover, I gave up and slept with the blankets any which way. It was a most relaxing, free-ing night. If you find yourself upset about statements by political leaders, angry at your in-laws for their views, or obessing over your rss-feed of the latest heart-rate increasing chatter; consider reading poetry and un-following the lot of it. You might find that you have time for finding beauty where you didn’t know it existed. You might have time to read about things that are both important and something you can affect. You, and america would be better for it

  8. Chris says:

    I tried to keep this short, but I had to address all the topics in this article. In general, this is a huge misconception on the part of people trying to infuse Christ’s teachings with politics. Christ never spoke of how to incorporate his teachings into the politics or government of a society. His commands to take care of the poor are to his followers and to the church. That is what charity and the church are for, not the government. It is not the government’s job to take care of the poor. In fact, the Constitution gives very limited, or, enumerated, powers to the Federal Government–and social welfare is not one of them. In fact, Christ taught his disciples to live within the confines of the earthly laws they were under. He never spoke out against the Roman empire’s control of Jewish lands–he never advocated for a democratic system vs. the dictatorship that was in place. In short, we can’t just say because Jesus loved the poor he would advocate for giving them other peoples’ money through a large, complicated, and inefficient political system that discourages productivity and encourages abuse and corruption. This is a terribly structured argument and is based solely on the author’s poor understanding of scripture (and our political system, I might add). Republicans are not evil people who only care about the rich. In fact, although liberal families’ incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household. And people who reject the idea that “government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality” give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition. Read more:

    Also, I am SOOO tired of the uninformed little nuggets like “rich people like Romney pay less percentage in taxes than people who work for them.” Can liberals please stop using false rhetoric like this? Get it straight: Romney (on income that he receives from giving speeches, selling books, etc.) is in the 35% tax bracket. On capital gains that he earns through investments, he pays 15% tax (which is the capital gains tax, separate from the income tax—ALSO, essentially a double tax, since he was already taxed on this money when he earned it as income, and then taxed again when it creates investment income). So, because Romney has already built much of his wealth from his business dealings in the early part of his career, he now mainly makes money off of investments. Therefore, since most taxes he pays are Capital Gains taxes, the liberals turn it around to say that “he pays less tax percentage than a secretary” (as Warren Buffet put it). This is like comparing apples to oranges. If the secretary were to invest money in the stock market and earn money on her investment, she would pay the exact same 15% capital gains tax. You can’t compare regular income to capital gains. Capital gains are taxed at a lower rate to encourage investment, especially because it’s such a risk to the investor. Investment is important because it allows businesses, especially small businesses, to have capital to grow. If we raise the capital gains tax, we discourage investment, and ultimately harm our economy and our small businesses.

    Aside from all this, what people don’t understand is the difference between marginal rate and effective rate. Marginal rate refers to the bracket you’re in—what you COULD pay. However, after deductions, credit, etc, the amount you actually pay is of course less. This amount is called your effective tax rate. Romney donates a HUGE amount of money to charity, which he can deduct on his taxes (just like every other American can) and thereby lowers his taxable income and his effective rate. Therefore on average, he pays around a 13% effective tax rate. Every other American does the exact same thing (takes deductions for charitable giving, child credits, etc.). Here is the average effective tax rate for Americans (in 2009) in their respective income ranges:
    $25-30K – 3%
    $30-40K – 4%
    $40-50K – 5%
    $50-75k – 7%
    $75-100k – 8%
    $100-200k – 12%

    My wife and I paid about 6% last year for our effect rate.

    Read more:

    And DESPITE all this—after tabulating his taxes for 2011, it turns out that because of his deductions for charitable giving, Romney only would have paid an effective tax rate of 11% for 2011. But because he said that in the past, he had paid an average of 13%, and he wanted to keep his promise to the American people, he actually told his accountants to re-do his taxes, and take LESS deductions to make sure his effective rate was not less than 13%. He actually intentionally paid MORE taxes last year just because he wanted to honor his word.

    Also on the topic of Ayn Rand and capitalism—obviously, conservatives, especially religious conservatives are not suggesting we espouse all of her values—especially not the atheistic ones. However, it’s been shown time and again in the history of world economies that free-market capitalism is the best system for promoting opportunity and wealth creation. Yes, some of it is based on selfish motives, but you can’t legislate morality. You can’t force people through government to not think about themselves first. The good thing about capitalism is that when one person succeeds (as long as they don’t break laws or ethics)—other people succeed. A rising tide lifts all boats, both large and small. It’s a liberal socialist myth that there’s only so much money to go around and therefore when one person succeeds it’s always at the expense of another. This is simply untrue. If a man strikes a successful business deal, he makes more money. He’s not just simply stuffing this under the mattress. He will either invest it (in the stock market, in bonds, in a business, in the bank) which ultimately helps the investment firm, the business, the stockholders of said business, the customers of said business, etc. or he might just spend it, which helps the business that he spends it at. If a rich guy buys a yacht, it helps the people who sell the yacht, who build the yacht, who paint the yacht, who own the marina where he keeps his yacht, who swab the deck at the marina, who clean the toilets at the yacht dealership, etc. It’s really simple, and yet, liberals love to twist this stuff around and talk about how evil rich people are. Just simply ridiculous.

    ALSO—on the topic of Christianity causing one to vote Democrat not Republican—that’s about the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. How can a Christian vote for the party that is for the killing of tens of millions of innocent unborn children? Oh, and remember when the Democrats first intentionally removed God from their official party platform at their convention, and then after receiving pressure from the media and republicans, tried to vote to put God back into the official platform, and their own party BOOed it! They had to take the vote 3 times, and CLEARLY the delegates did not want God in the platform and the “nay”s overwhelmed the “ay”s, but because of the pressure, the chairman said that the “ay”s had it. And then they BOOed him. THIS is the party that your faith causes you to embrace?? That is about the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard in my entire life.

    • theboeskool says:

      Chris–I’d have been able to pay better attention to that if it had some pictures with funny captions….

    • rangerdavie says:

      I see that you missed the premise of the article, Chris, being that our faith must call us beyond the confines of one political party. At the same time, we have to choose which one most closely aligns with our values for our civil engagement.

      You missed the premise by using the word “embrace.” No-where in this article is there a full out embrace of the Democratic party, but a weighing out decision points based on values. Brother, lies exist very deeply on both sides of the isle. There are people who are Christians who vote republican. I am not one of them and I have a plethora of reasons why that would relate to the same values I would imagine you and I share together in our faith. Keep pointing out inconsistencies in logic. I am cool with that. What is rather unhelpful in conversations like these are things like, CAPS LOCK and ridicule. You are arguing with deep passion against a position of embrace toward one political party that simply doesn’t exist with the author nor myself. Because the person you are arguing with here doesn’t exist, it makes me scratch my head at your ferver. It also makes me wonder if you heard any of the rational and funny things the author said in this article.

  9. chuck pinto says:

    I like you. Which is saying a lot, because I’m not a fan of so many Christians.

  10. Pingback: Here’s What Dr. Seuss Thought About “America First” | The Boeskool

  11. Pingback: Anti-Maskers: It’s Not Freedom You’re Fighting For… It’s Selfishness | The Boeskool

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