Yes, That’s Your President!

While the pundits speculate about how the presidents-elect’s agenda will unfold during the first 100 days of his or her presidency, a good number of American will sulk about, muttering “That’s not my president.” Those who sob through their candidate’s concession speech often struggle to come to terms with the election results. To comfort their souls and to stick to the system that betrayed them on election night, the members of the losing party will spend the next four years telling anyone who will listen, “That’s not my President.”

Admittedly, the phrase does not always represent a denial of reality. At times, defeated voters on both sides of the political spectrum toss out the phrase to remind their listeners that they disagree with the President. When asked why President Bush, Obama, Reagan, or Kennedy did this or that, those who did not vote for these men can conveniently and rightfully distance themselves from the discussion, reminding the room that those men were not their presidential candidate of choice. That’s not my president, agenda, or goal for America.

But often the phrase contains a more sinister meaning. The speaker uses the expression to imply a level of disrespect and defiance. Instead of honoring, supporting, and praying for the man or woman who has been elected to the Presidential office, the defeated voter seeks to create a safe space from which she can attack, insult, and belittle the President, using whatever means are necessary: conspiracy theories, lies, insults, and riots. That’s not my President often equals “I am free to rebel and to destroy.” Such thinking proves detrimental to society. It also proves to be antithetical to the Scriptures.

Election Theology

Christians should avoid the rebellious use of the phrase “That’s not my President” and confess, “That’s my President.” The statement is not inherently political. Nor is it about party affiliations or about one’s understanding of policy. Rather, that phrase is a theological confession of God’s loving sovereignty.

In Daniel 2:21 God reminds us that, “he removes kings and sets up kings.” Or as Paul says in Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” When Christians refuse to honor and respect the President, they act as if God does not reign. They imply that someone snuck into the White House while God was caring for orphans in Africa. But that is not the God of the Bible. He reigns over all human affairs and every American election cycle. His power knows no limits and cannot be out maneuvered, cheated, or overwhelmed. God’s purpose always come to be. Though we may not like the November outcome, we can be confident that the outcome of the last election was God intended outcome. “The Lord of Hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand (Isa 14:24).” John Neuahas rightly noted,

Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final assertion Christians make about all of reality, including politics.

Moreover, we should be confident that the outcome of the last election is consistent with God’s goodness. Psalm 136:1 reminds us to “Give thank to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” God’s faithful love was not on the last ballot. All events represent God’s exercise of his sovereign power for the good of his people. Romans 8:28 famously states “all things work together for good” for those who love God. That includes all things political. Even the political realities that get under our skin still further God’s good plans for his church and for you. Consequently as Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes clear:

Christians should never get excited about the state. They should never get excited about politics. They are to be interested; they are to vote; they must be intelligent and informed; but they should never get excited about one political party or the other…to they extent that they do, the come under the condemnation of the Scriptures.

What is God Doing?

In the cosmic sense, I do not know why candidate A prevails over that candidate B. I cannot detail what God is doing; no one can. Even historical investigation faces limits when seeking to discern the purposes of the heavenly Father. God has declared, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD (Is 55:8).” Be suspicious of those who proclaim that candidate A is a symbol of divine blessing and that candidate B is a symbol of judgement. God’s world is far more complex than that. Philistia, Babylon, and Assyria all had good runs at Israel’s political expense. But God was not with the pagan countries. Today’s win or loss is not the end of the story.

Closing Thoughts

Though we do not know what God is doing in the short term, we do know who is. He is the good and sovereign Lord of the universe who works all things together for our good. We can say, “That’s my President” giving respect to whom respect is do and praying for good to come from the administration currently in possession of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (1 Tim 2:2). The failure to do reveals that we have betrayed our Lord and equated the kingdom of God with a political party.

Of course, we can disagree with any President’s agenda. The presence in office does not prove the righteousness of their causes or policies. Might does not make right. We have the freedom in Christ to vote for candidates that will overturn the current administration’s policy wins and the next.

Lastly, the church must advocate for truth and justice, sharing the gospel with rulers as Paul did and rebuking kings who openly defy the direct commands of Scripture as John the Baptist did.

But even in those moments of evangelism and rebuke, the Christian must still confess, “That’s my President.” God’s goodness cannot be thwarted by crooked senators or deceptive Presidents. Even when its not ok; it is ok. God reigns.

All Christians should be able to say, “That’s My President.” What say you?

Don’t Skip Thanksgiving

The world wants to skip from Halloween to Christmas bouncing from horror themed self-indulgence to tinsel tossed materialism. The church can empathize with the sentiment. The social unrest, contentious elections, and COVID19 pandemic have cast a long, misty shadow of anxiety over most every part of the globe. The idea of stopping at grandma’s for Thanksgiving turkey seems to be an ironic exercise in American cultural futility. Why give thanks for such a world?

Though the world despairs, the people of God have every reason to give thanks in such a world. They understand the sovereign love of God. The church knows that all of today’s troubles are bound together by a golden thread of grace that culminates in the book of life. For the Christian, spiritual reality remains far more real than presidential elections, infection numbers, and GDP growth. What do those who see beyond the empirical world know?

Why Christians Give Thanks

They know that God will rescue his people and that Jesus will come again. To borrow the words of Micah 7:8b and 9b Christians are confident that, “when I fall, I shall rise…[and] in that day the boundary shall be far extended.” Though the believer may watch his political candidate go down in flames, get a pink slip, or receive a terminal diagnosis, he knows God will not let him be crushed. God will vindicate his people. Admittedly, God may not vindicate his people’s political candidates, business plans, or medical strategies. Our causes may flounder, but our faith will remain unmoved. We will prove to be more than conquers because God has pleaded our cause and has executed “justice (Micah 7:10).” Jesus died that we might be freed from the curse. Death, sin, and sorrow have no right to dominate our soul for Jesus has swaddled us in his righteous love. Even if our day is filled with adversity, mistakes, and sinful failures, we know the darkness will not last because “the Lord will be a light to me (Micah 7:9.).” Even on the worst day, the believer can confidently boast, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).” Those whose names have been written in the book of life have every reason to be thankful. God will rescue from today’s trial.

God also promises to come again. The Christian’s future hope is not tied to suburban homes and white fences, large family gatherings, or exotic vacations. All these things can come and go and utterly disappoint our souls. Homes can flood, gatherings can descend into feuds, and vacations can prove to be a waste of time. The Christian hopes in something yet unseen but something far more secure, the new heavens and the new earth. When Christ returns the boundary of his kingdom shall be extended to cover all of humanity. All sin, disease, sorrow, anxiety, hurt, and injustices will be forced outside the walls of God’s kingdom and crushed. Inside the walls, Jesus will shepherd his people placing them under the shade of his blessed comfort and filling their hearts with the abundance of his riches. Because the believer knows her destination is secure, she has every reason to be thankful today. The new heavens and the new earth are coming.

Give Thanks!

Though the world maybe ready to skip from Halloween to Christmas, the church should embrace the cultural moment and give thanks. God promises to see us through today and to come again. The two things that fuel our anxiety, today’s problems and tomorrow’s possibilities, have been solved by Jesus on the cross. The baby born in Bethlehem on Christmas morn has conquered this world of goblins and vampires. Nothing can separate us from him. Give Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bad Polls, Fear, and the American Psyche

The prophets of the American political industry have failed the American voter. Days and in some cases only hours prior to election day 2020, a majority of pollsters predicted that a blue wave would sweep across America and would gently deposit Vice President Joe Biden on the lawn of the White House. According to the Real Clear Politics polling average, Vice President Biden possessed a 7.2% advantage over President Trump in the national vote. FiveThirtyEight said Biden had an 8.4% advantage. The Vice President was also projected to take Michigan by a 4.2% to 8% margin and Florida by a 1.1% to 2.5% margin. He was then supposed to speed across North Carolina and eventually contest if not flip Ohio, Iowa, and Texas. Few of those things occurred. Trump had almost a 4-point advantage in Florida, and a 6-point advantage in Texas. Though he seems to have lost Georgia, he has held firmly onto Iowa.

If readers dive into the Senate races, they will discover even greater polling inaccuracies. For example, Susan Collins was supposed to lose Maine by 6%. She won by more than 9%. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham were also supposedly fighting for their political lives. McConnell garnered a 20-point victory and Graham had a 10-point victory.  At the end of the 2020 election cycle, the polling industry appears to be as credible as the physic hotline industry. Or to use the words of the Atlantic, the polling industry faces, “serious existential questions.” They do. Let’s tackle some of them.

Why Were the Polls Wrong?

Undoubtedly, the polls’ inability to capture the sentiment of the American voter reveal something of the biases of those who run the industry. But the phenomenon also exposes a fundamental problem with the American psyche, a psyche that has fallen victim to fear.

Fearful Pollsters

Americans like winners. If the polling data rummaging around the internet reveals that candidate A will most likely lose to candidate B, some of candidate A’s supporters will choose to avoid the polls on Election Day. After all, what is one more vote for a lost cause? By the nature of their societal position, pollsters have the power to both report and to shape public opinion.

The gross discrepancy between the election and the polls indicates that some pollsters may have exploited their position and played statistical gymnastics with the data they have collected. They appear to have published reports that reflected their wishes for the American voter instead of the electorate’s wishes for their nation.

Left to itself, the American electorate possesses the ability to choose both great and not-so-great candidates. To prevent the ruin of the nation that they love, some pollsters have stopped listening to the voters and have attempted to manipulate them through social engineering. Their misstated data promises to bring out certain voters and to suppress others, helping the “great” candidate win. The ethics involved in such a decision prove problematic because they express of fear of neighbor. In short, some pollsters fear the electorate lacks the wisdom to choose its own leaders.

Though the pollsters fear the average voter, they also covet that voter’s approval. To get that approval, pollsters must provide the electorate with meaningful data. Speculation that candidate A may win proves far less exciting than a poll that says candidate A has a 7-point lead. That seven-point advantage proves relevant because of the pollster’s margin of error. The margin represents with a 95% confidence level how much variation could occur if another pollster ran the same poll with the same respondents and questions. Most polls claim a margin of plus or minus 3-points. If candidate A was polling at 54%, the margin of error would allow that her real numbers could be between 51% to 57%. Thus, voters would conclude that candidate A appeared to be on the path to victory. The information proves insightful and noteworthy.

But according to a UC Berkley study, the margin of error is almost twice that of what the average pollster reports. When polls are compared against election results, the margin of error for most polls doubles to 6%. If we go back to our imaginary poll and apply this correction, candidate A could now be polling at either 60% or 48%. She could be on her way either to a huge victory or a close defeat. Such a poll proves far less definitive and by extension far less newsworthy. Instead of admitting their human frailty, most pollsters say that their margin of error still hovers around the 3% range. Fear of the electorate and of rejection drives many pollsters to distort and exaggerate reality, undermining political discourse.

Fearful Voters

But the fault for the erroneous polls does not lay only at the feet of those crunching numbers on their laptops. The American electorate is also becoming increasingly fearful. Pollsters have noted that fewer and fewer voters will participate in polls. Voters will not share the information that pollsters need to create accurate polls. The head pollster for the Trafalgar group reported that a majority of those who participate in polls possess either deep partisan affiliations or large amounts of boredom. Essentially only those willing to die for their cause or those so desperate for human interaction that they welcome a telemarketer call talk to pollsters. The average voter who looks to the polls for guidance about what tomorrow will bring proves to be the very person who will not respond to the pollsters’ phone call, text message, or email.

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Seemingly, the American electorate increasingly fears the pollsters. The average voter has seen the press, the pollsters, and the Twitter mobs dub some candidates to be the embodiment of racism, intolerance, and hatred. The electorate fears that going on the record to support the manifestation of Satan or supporting a satanic cause could result in their Twitter account being suspended or the termination of their job. Though the pollsters promise confidentiality, the American voter cannot help but wonder what would happen if some unscrupulous employee released the polling database and exposed their answers to the American public, a group that increasingly criminalizes and then asks questions. The average voter fears both the pollster that he doesn’t know and the neighbor he does know. Discourse which helps American politics to thrive and adapt has been broken down by fear.

For the sake of full disclosure, I need to admit that I too felt this fear in my gut as I came to the final question of a YouGov survey. I thought to myself, “Do I really want my name attached to this data? Will I be punished?” I wasn’t sure. So, I sat staring at the iPhone screen.

The Explanation and Solution

Why are the polls so off? Why is the American psyche shaped by the fear of neighbor instead of the love of neighbor?

The American voter has become increasingly less religious, less Christian. According to a 2019 Pew research poll, only 65% of Americans identify as Christians, a decrease of 13% over the last ten plus years. When Americans drift away from Jesus, they wander away from the embodiment of love which cast out fear. The soul that trusts in Jesus has no reason to fear its neighbor. Jesus has conquered the shame of sin and the fear of death when he died on the cross and rose again. He bequeathed the liberating power of the cross to all who trust in him for salvation and unites the heart of his children to the love of God. Thus, the Christian is not defined by his neighbor’s vote, approval, or disapproval but by the love of God, a love that can never be lost (Rom. 8:38-39). Since God loves the Christian, he or she can enter the political discussion without fearing either the electorate or the pollster. The Christian does not have to fear the American voter for that subset of individuals cannot elect a politician that will separate the Christian’s soul from God. And the Christian voter does not have to fear the pollster because a leaked survey or suspended social media account will not separate the believer from the love of Jesus.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment (1 John 4:18).

At the end of the day America does not need an infusion of better pollsters. The electorate needs an infusion of the faith that casts out fear.

…and that YouGov survey…well if you want to know how I voted, I encourage you to check out the results of the November 3, 2020 YouGov election poll. My opinion is hidden somewhere in all their data.

Thanks for visiting the witkowskiblog.com If you have other insights or thoughts on the 2020 polls please drop a comment below.