David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs Saturdays in The Signal.
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After what feels like the longest and most vitriolic campaign season in history, Election Day is just around the corner. In three days the battle will be waged, and I’m not speaking only about the face-off between our candidates for president.

The bigger battle by far for many sober-minded voters will be between their political competitiveness and their consciences.

Yes, I am presupposing a large percentage of American voters still have a conscience anchored – to some extent – to fundamental convictions about honesty, morality, civility, humility and common sense.

For these people, voting for president will pose a monumental challenge. No voting option is problem-free. They are simply being forced to choose the option that offers the fewest regrets.

As I see it, there are six options open to us regarding the vote for president. My goal here is simply to show the pros and cons, and allow us all to find the option that best aligns with a clear conscience on Nov. 9.

Voting for a candidate: Some voters just vote the candidates themselves. For some, voting for a female is all that matters. For others, their vote is cast for someone who “tells it like it is” and doesn’t care about political correctness.

The negatives of this option have been played out incessantly on the national stage for the past several months. Each candidate has enough black marks on his or her character to make any thinking person nauseated at the thought of endorsing such blatant dishonesty and narcissism.

Explaining your vote on this basis alone would demand a conscience that is both blind and asphalt-hard.

Voting for a party: I suspect many are simply voting their tribe. Tribalism, by which my team is always right and yours is always wrong, has turned national politics into a better slugfest than the Super Bowl.

Given our national addiction to competition, it is fair to say many will vote, not for the candidate per se, but for the party that will gain the power of the White House.

The problem here is simple. Only the terminally naïve can remain blind to the fact neither political party can be trusted. All we have to do is look at the two candidates the party system has produced.

All the world is laughing at America over the fact these two are offered as the best our nation can produce.

Voting a party platform: Some, recognizing the monumental weaknesses in the two presidential candidates, have called on voters to “vote the platform.”

Having read both the Democratic and Republican platforms I can tell you they are both well-written, pointed and filled with promises. But, as we all know, after the election the platform becomes a dead document.

It has no teeth, holds no one accountable, and anyone who believes the newly elected president is bound or even concerned with the ink on the platform pages is playing with a closed mind and no sense of history.

Voting a specific issue: Perhaps the most popular “conscience-preserving” option is to vote along the lines of a specific issue. It could be the Supreme Court appointments, abortion, Obamacare, immigration, or any of a number of controversial social issues.

I have heard so many say “I can’t stand either candidate, but I’m voting for the one who will do something about. …”

The sad truth is recent history is filled with examples of presidents failing to act as we hoped they might. Conservative presidents have appointed Supreme Court justices who ended up voting with the liberals. Most of all, we all, know the president rarely can make his or her promises come true. And perhaps that’s just as well. Maybe our best outcome is gridlock.

Voting for a write-in candidate: While this may look like a “clear conscience” alternative, it actually is a misuse of the election process. While the process does give a “write-in” option, it has always been meant to provide a path to victory for a populist candidate who actually has a reasonable chance of winning.

To use this option for other purposes is to go against the purpose of the option itself.

Not voting for president: For many this becomes the only option that leaves their conscience clear. Yet, what does it say about being an invested citizen? And how can non-voters feel good about future criticism of the nation’s direction if they determined not to be part of the political mechanism?

No voting option can leave you without regret. We simply have to choose the one that leaves the least regret and possibly accomplishes the greatest good. And when it is all over, be realistic.

Our nation is heading in the wrong direction, and our broken political system that is so easily manipulated by the rich and raunchy is only partly to blame. Perhaps the greatest blame falls on the selfishness of the American soul that has largely forgotten we are “one nation, under God” and we will only be great to the extent that – as individuals – we are good.

May God move America to a place where we deserve his blessing.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs Saturdays in The Signal.

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  • tech

    “Each candidate has enough black marks on his or her character to make any thinking person nauseated at the thought of endorsing such blatant dishonesty and narcissism.”

    Concur.

    • indy

      Suggest this poster grasp the meaning of what the Op-ed writer wrote: Perhaps the greatest blame falls on the selfishness of the American soul that has largely forgotten we are “one nation, under God” and we will only be great to the extent that – as individuals – we are good.

      Indy: In actuality, we are a nation ‘under law’ . . . the Founding Fathers ‘separated’ church and state (see 1st Amendment) such that the dominate religion couldn’t impose their beliefs onto others.

      As far as voting for president, only one candidate, Hillary Clinton, has the experience and public service background to be President.

      The GOP candidate is just a ‘real estate’ salesman whose history is tainted with failed businesses, bankruptcies, and frivolous lawsuits all of which show a huge deficit of ethical behavior.

      Understandably, our politics are polluted with ‘lobbyist money’ that politicians take to get elected.

      You can see who ‘owns’ your politicians here: http://www.opensecrets.org

      As far as why politicians seem to ignore the voters after the election is more or less due to the public ignoring the political process after same.

      I find very very few people I run into that know who represents them.

      Many just vote their party based on name recognition (just look at the signs around SCV-land).

      In any event, we get the government we deserve . . . if we don’t know who it is that is making the future choices for our nation and our children, then we’re left in the ‘crying/whining’ position and become susceptible to the innuendo speculation nonsense that pollutes our political discourse.

      Hillary Clinton is a politician and like most of them, follow the polls. Many people ‘hate’ her since they don’t like how she votes or her positions. Likewise, many people do vote for her knowing her positions aren’t in total absolute ‘lock step’ with theirs.

      That’s politics . . .

      We can do better . . . but this requires the media to ‘reengage’ their constitutional responsibility to inform the nation versus trying to profit from the mindless political theater.

      When Trump discounts the media and tells his followers that only ‘he’ knows how to solve our problems is basically setting the table for a ‘dictatorship’. I suggest Trump actually read the 1st Amendment as to why the Founding Fathers protected the ‘press’ as we see here:

      ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, . . . ‘

      • tech

        I suggest you study our founding history to remediate the ignorance displayed in your post, Indy. It’s the responsibility of each individual, not the that of the “media”, whom are, in the main, as demonstrably misguided as you.

        “It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers No. 1

        http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed01.asp

        “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams, letter to the Massachusetts Militia, 11 October 1798

        http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-3102

  • On Tuesday, I will vote for Gary Johnson. Here’s why. When you vote, you are making a statement without words. And therefore a statement that can easily be misinterpreted. I find both Clinton and Trump absolutely detestable and cannot bring myself to vote for either one. The reality for Californians is that our voice in a presidential election typically ends when the primaries are over. If the Republican party had handled things differently. this year could of been different because I don’t think Hillary would have had a chance against virtually any other viable Republican candidate. But alas, it is what it is (sigh). But for those that will vote for either Clinton or Trump, while there is much more thought and reasoning behind your vote, your vote will be interpreted in only one way. A vote for Clinton indicates you are FOR Clinton. A vote for Trump indicates you are FOR Trump. And each of the two pathologically narcissistic fatally flawed candidates will only see those votes as being FOR them. While Gary Johnson may see my vote as FOR him, I want my vote to be a clear statement that I am NOT FOR Trump or Clinton. And while Tuesday night will be a low point in the annals of American politics, I will go to sleep knowing I voted my conscience even though the outcome in California was a foregone conclusion. And hopefully the collective minority voice of those voting for third party candidates will one day be loud enough to be heard and acknowledged.

    • tech

      Rational, Eric.

    • indy

      Libertarian market fundamentalism doesn’t work.

      Johnson also lacks international experience on foreign affairs.

      His record while as Governor is just ‘fiscal conservatism’ on steroids.

      Voting for him as a ‘protest’ vote just puts off the tough decision to choose between the two major candidates, one of which is better qualified, Hillary Clinton, over the ‘real estate’ salesman that has captured the ire of the nation over the failure of establishment politicians to solve our problems.

      If you want government to function, you need to know who your politicians are that represent you.

      You can find these folks with only your zip code: http://act.commoncause.org/site/PageServer?pagename=sunlight_advocacy_list_page

      If you do nothing but tell these folks you know who they are, we’re moving forward . . . expressing your opinion simply and succinctly will help them grasp what you’re looking for and move the focus from the lobbyist to the public.

      So use your vote in a manner that actually counts . . . even if you’re not excited about either major party candidate.

      And if you want third party candidates at the next debates, start pressuring the political parties and media for same.

      I have no problem with Johnson or Stein on the stage answering questions . . . that would expand the debate.

      For now, I’m voting for Hillary . . . I don’t want to gamble on a nationalist candidate that wants us to ignore the media and ‘trust’ him to make all the decisions.

      • “So use your vote in a manner that actually counts . . . even if you’re not excited about either major party candidate.”

        You realize that Hillary winning California is a 100% certainty, right? So what exactly do you mean by “use your vote in a manner that actually counts”?

        • Vote in a manner that makes your vote actually count. What does that mean? Every vote counts. One’s vote is one’s voice. Our electoral process assures every registered voter an equal voice. Your voice is not less important just because you support a losing proposition or a candidate far behind in the polls. If we had that attitude we might as well cancel elections if the polls show margins that realistically cannot be closed. All votes matter. To imply that if one does not vote as you think they should their vote will not actually count is somewhat arrogant.

      • tech

        “For now, I’m voting for Hillary . . . ”

        LOL! As if any other possibility existed now and in the future. You will always pull the lever for the most statist candidate on the ballot.

  • nohatejustdebate

    How difficult is it for conservatives in California to vote their conscience for president when the outcome has already been per-determined? How easy is it to judge conservatives in swing states such as North Carolina or Florida where the election will be decided? With two miserable candidates, we’re left with two visions for America.

    One promises more of the same with a stagnant economy, higher taxes, Obamacare, an immigration deluge, a far-left Supreme Court for decades, continuing feckless international policies, rising threats to religious freedom, and corruption at the highest levels of government. The other ran on a vision to increase jobs, lower taxes, replace Obamacare, enforce immigration laws, a conservative Supreme Court for decades, protect religious freedom, and drain the swamp of corruption in government.

    I pray that conservatives in these critical swing states will put what’s best for America over their personal views of moral purity or hopes that their sacrificed vote this year will one day help a third party candidate when we’re all dead and gone.

    • I will admit that because of the political climate in California I have the option to vote as I indicated, but if I lived elsewhere I would have to make a painfully agonizing decision. And I honestly don’t know what it would be.

      The Republican party grossly mismanaged this election and the Democrats only seemed concerned about claiming another “first” by putting a woman in the White House (apparently Bernie didn’t get that memo).

  • nohatejustdebate

    “anyone who believes the newly elected president is bound or even concerned with the ink on the platform pages is playing with a closed mind and no sense of history.”

    At the risk of sounding as though I have a closed mind or have no sense of history, presidents do indeed follow most of what’s written in their party’s platform. Can anyone cite an exception with Obama and the DNC platform over the last eight years?

  • Nishka

    Can anyone site a better favorable rating than Obama’s 54% at the end of their time in office ?????????

    • indy

      We’re lucky Obama was the ‘adult’ in the room the last 8 years . . . trying to overcome GOP obstructionism in congress . . . Speaker Ryan often wouldn’t even put bills to a ‘vote’ . . . essentially shutting down congress. That’s leadership? Nope.

      And check out the filibusters by the GOP in the Senate: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filibuster_in_the_United_States_Senate

      Using obstructionism to defeat democracy is outrageous . . . so it’s little wonder the GOP opened the door for a candidate like Trump . . .

      People say ‘just throw him in there’ . . . to lead the ‘free world’ . . . yet the same folks spend time researching most every other ‘professional’ service they use . . .

      While establishment politicians have failed us . . . putting a egocentric real estate salesman with little public service experience into the presidency would be the greater mistake.

      • tech

        Define “obstructionism” as it relates to the Constitution, Indy.

  • nohatejustdebate

    Absolutely Nishka,

    First, you can’t post just one poll for an accurate accounting of Barack Obama. According to the Real Clear Politics national average of seven major pollsters, he currently stands at 51.6%.

    There are currently six U.S. Presidents that had a better favorable rating than Obama at the end of their time in office. Here is a list of their “average” polls taken at the time.

    Roosevelt – 70%
    Kennedy – 63%
    Eisenhower – 61%
    Clinton – 60%
    LBJ – 54%
    Reagan – 52%

    SOURCE:
    http://www.benzinga.com/general/politics/14/11/5030580/presidential-approval-ratings-ranked-from-first-to-worst

    Having answered your question, can you answer mine?

    Can you site any president that increased the national debt higher at the end of their time in office than Obama?

  • Nishka

    Roosevelt – 70%
    Kennedy – 63%
    Eisenhower – 61%
    Clinton – 60%
    LBJ – 54%
    Reagan – 52%

    The skinny kid from Chicago has a higher rating than the almighty Reagan!!!!!
    And four out of the six above are DEMOCRATS !!!!!!

  • nohatejustdebate

    We noticed you refused to answer my question so I’ll be happy to answer that one for you too, Nishka.

    There is no president who left office with a higher debt than the one which will be left by Barack Obama. If I’m not mistaken, I believe more debt will have been racked up under Obama’s watch than all other presidents combined. That’s one of his many messes he will be leaving behind for the next president.