by Corey Markum
It’s election season, and depending on one’s perspective, that could mean anything from (1) a momentous decision between righteousness and evil, with implications of apocalyptic proportions, to (2) a tired choice between two candidates who may as well share a social security number, for all the differences between them. Amidst the partisans, there is a growing minority, perhaps at its largest since the Ross Perot era, calling for a rejection of two-party dominance, and casting 3rd-party or write-in votes for “outsiders” such as Ron Paul, Virgil Goode, Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein. For many, this “third way” offers a compelling alternative to “choosing the lesser of two evils” and allows them a cleaner conscience regarding their vote (either through voting for policies they more agree with, or through having the security of knowing their candidate has absolutely no chance at winning). And for political independents or apathetics, the whole political scene is representative of the above Waterson strip; simply replace “spring” in Hobbes’s comment with “election season.”
I have been increasingly drawn, however, to a “fourth way.” In its clearest articulation, this alternative is known as “Christian anarchism.” At its heart, Christian anarchism is a voluntary rejection of the political mechanisms of governance—of the “channels of power,” so to speak—and draws heavily from a neo-Anabaptist tradition (such as that represented by influential theologian John Howard Yoder). To be fair, the movement is a rather miniscule one. In an America that considers the “responsibility” of voting as a foundational obligation of its citizenry, disengagement from the system is hardly viewed as a noble or laudable enterprise. And although many Christian anarchists would assert that they may still be “political” without resorting to the power struggles inherent in legislation and office-holding, there is often a misperception that nonvoters are shirking a very necessary civic—and, for some, religious—duty.
My intent in this post is not to judge those who vote. Indeed, until this upcoming election, I have voted in virtually every election of which I was aware and eligible. Rather, my object is to inform: first, that there is an alternative, not simply to the two-party system, but to the fundamental underpinnings of the system itself; and second, that there is a very real thoughtfulness and faithfulness to the decision of Christian anarchists. There is not time in a mere blog to deal with all the particulars of this view, and indeed, I am not yet competent to speak to all those particulars. For those interested in a shotgun synopsis of Christian anarchism, however, Justin Bronson Barringer has a wonderful page with links to various blog posts, articles, and resources that explain the philosophy and answer many questions/concerns people may have. Barringer is an alum of FHU sister-institution Lipscomb University (whose namesake, David Lipscomb, held and articulated many of the views espoused by Christian anarchism).
Here is a link to that page: http://rogueminister.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/christian-anarchy-and-voting-a-recap/