For some Christians I know, who happen to be Labour Party candidates in this year's election, I imagine the discernment of the "politics of Jesus" in relation to the politics of Aotearoa NZ is straightforward. To follow Jesus politically speaking is to vote Labour! Ditto for those Christians standing for National, the Maori Party, the Greens etc.
It does not seem so easy for me, a mere voter.
I find myself weighing up and worrying about (in no particular order of anxiety):
- National's obfuscatory handling of the Todd Barclay matter;
- National's reluctance to act decisively on house prices in our most populated city: is their membership over-subscribed with property speculators and landlords?
- Labour's inept handling of their overseas volunteers' call centre campaign (if they run the country like that ...);
- Labour's recently announced industrial relations policy which seems to me like a return to some very bad days for our economy;
- United Future as a party with way too much importance in decision-making relative to their virtually zero nationwide support;
- NZ First's bewildering array of positions on a variety of matters, most of which are clever clickbaits but not much else;
- every party's position on immigration (I appreciate this is a complex issue and every party is trying to get "the balance" on this matter right, but I find myself responding to the latest policy proposal with a "yeah, I think that misses a key point or two";
- several parties' critique of "neo-liberalism" (i.e. the general theoretical underpinning of our current economy) without offering an alternative which looks like it would actually work better than what it would replace.
- even worse, some of what I hear from some parties amounts to "loads more things in life should be free of charge" with an occasional follow up that the "rich should pay more tax." Spoiler alert: the better off among us already shoulder most of the tax burden.
What is a follower of Jesus to do in the voting booth on 23rd September?
I ask this question with particular reference to our "party vote." (With our local vote for an MP to represent our electorate there might be other considerations than those addressed in this post. We might, for instance, because we feel we know our local candidates better, wish to vote for a candidate because they are a Christian, or because they played rugby for our club, etc).
I would be interested in your views!
The following options strike me with respect to our party vote as theologically plausible (on the unquestioned-by-me presupposition that a Christian should vote):
Option A: choose one issue of great (theological) significance and vote for the party promising to do the right thing on that matter (and "hold your nose" re all other matters on which that party, if governing, might to the wrong thing). The Single Issue option.
Option B: survey many if not all issues of significance, perform a political calculation as to which party on balance is better than the others, and vote accordingly. The Pragmatic option.
Option C: pay little or no attention to what the issues are at this election but focus instead on each party's track record in terms of handling of matters, responding to issues of the day, etc. Then vote for the party that is likely to do the most good for the country/the poor/the worker/the sick/ business/environment. I assume, for example, that the Christians I know who are Labour Party candidates this year would not think each and every policy of the Labour Party was in accord with Christian values, but that they are committed to the Labour Party as the party which, on balance, will do the most good according to Christian values (fight for the underdog, tackle poverty, improve access to health, etc). I assume that Christians standing for National believe that in the long run everyone is better off if a strong economy is maintained and if people are encouraged to stand on their own two feet rather than depend on the state. The Arc of History option.
There is, as the intelligent and learned political scientists know, a fourth option, often favoured by Kiwis, at least at regular intervals ...
Option D: Give the Other Lot A Go.