Letter to America – use your vote for all of us

As a rule I avoid politics in this blog. I’m not sure politics and theology mix too well, and I think I’m better as a theological writer than a political commentator. I also don’t kid myself that this blog has any significant influence in the world. But despite all this, there are times when you have to speak even if it seems foolish and unlikely to make any difference.

So I’m writing this to letter to America, because you are poised very shortly to elect both a president and a political party. The result, which is in your hands, will shape not only your own lives and immediate national future but will affect all of us largely helpless onlookers in the wider world, and will impact on the very planet itself.

This is an appeal to all you good people. Please, please choose wisely, and not based on mere partisan prejudice, nor out of short-sighted or short-term self-interest, nor on single issues such as abortion, gay marriage or Israel.

America, you are probably the most powerful and influential nation on the planet. Your electoral decisions matter to all of us, both for good and ill. Your economic and foreign policies shape the fate of nations and of countless people. The ‘War on Terror’ began largely in America (helped of course by the UK), but now affects most of the world. It’s arguable that much of the current global economic crisis began in America, with unregulated hedge funds, sub-prime mortgage selling and so forth, but now the whole world is caught up in it. This is not to point the finger; merely to point out that US policies often have global consequences.

Indeed, the very future of the planet could be in your hands. America is the highest per capita food consumer and among the very highest oil and energy consumers in the world. The US also produces more CO2 emissions than any almost other nation except China – yet some leading American politicians refuse to believe in man-made climate change. Again, this is not to lay blame, but just to stress that your political choices hugely affect the world we all share.

Many of us in the rest of the world look on in bewilderment at US politics, at all the glitzy showbiz razzmatazz surrounding the most crucial decision-making process on the planet; the bizarre idea that presidents need to be like movie stars. We cross our fingers and pray that you won’t let in another George ‘Dubya’ Bush, a presidency seen by most of the rest of us as unmitigatedly disastrous; many of us are still feeling its toxic fallout. We wonder why so many Americans make such a fuss about something that seems as patently sensible to us as ‘Obamacare’. (And by the way, most of us don’t have a clue what the GOP means – though I’ve looked it up now.)

We also scratch our heads over the importance placed on a candidate’s religious beliefs – it sometimes appears to outsiders as though the US were almost a quasi-theocracy rather than a modern secular democracy with a separation of church and state. We fear the power of the religious right, of the fundamentalist and ultra-conservative evangelical lobbies. We struggle to understand those who conflate Christianity with Republicanism, and who don’t seem to be able to see past single issues like abortion, gay marriage or Israel. However important those issues are, they cannot be allowed to trump all else when so much is at stake. Please, please don’t let that happen.

Of course I can’t tell you who to vote for. I can only say that the idea of a Republican win and a Romney presidency fills me, and countless others in the non-American world, with utter dread. Republican presidencies may (or may not) be great for America; I don’t know. But they’ve rarely been unmitigated blessings for the rest of us.

America, in many ways as you vote you hold the fate of all of us in your hands. Please don’t vote on your own behalf alone, but for all of us who are powerless to influence the outcome yet will be hugely affected by it nonetheless. Particularly if you are Christian, vote also for the alien and foreigner and the rest of the world who have to live with the consequences of your leaders’ policies.

I’m not quite saying vote for Obama, but if I did have a vote in this election, that’s certainly how I’d use it.


About TheEvangelicalLiberal

Aka Harvey Edser. I'm a web editor, worship leader, wannabe writer, very amateur composer and highly unqualified armchair theologian. My heroes include C.S. Lewis and Homer Simpson.
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6 Responses to Letter to America – use your vote for all of us

  1. James Pruitt says:

    Harvey, A couple of questions: In your view, can we American voters choose wisely, and not based on mere partisan prejudice, nor out of short-sighted or short-term self-interest and vote for Mitt Romney? In June of this year, the Pew Research Center released one of its routine surveys of worldwide opinion. It found that since 2009, favorable attitudes toward the U.S. had slipped nearly everywhere in the world except Russia and Japan. What has President Obama done to deserve this? (OK, he did return the bust of Winston Churchill, but besides that?) Theres a lot to admire in both Present Obama and Mitt Romney. (Were not talking about Michael Foot or Prince Charles here.) We have a constitutional system and life will go on regardless of who wins. Remember also the injunction in Psalms 146:3 Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. I say that because you seem overwrought about the results of our election. Oh, by the way, I noted recently that the Nobel committee awarded you (as a member of the EU) the Nobel Peace Prize this year “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” Would you be willing to share this with Ronald Reagan (standing down the Soviets) and Bill Clinton (rescuing the Balkans)? As always, thanks for the post. It would be well-received by many Americans, especially in the area of the country where I live, the San Francisco Bay Area. Cheers,


    • Nice to hear from you – it’s been a while! 🙂

      Firstly, I certainly think you can vote for Mitt Romney without displaying partisan prejudice or short-sighted self-interest. However, my own view (which may well be wrong) is that a vote for Romney is probably not in the wider world’s best interests (though I doubt either result would be unmitigatedly good for all of us).

      I’m interested in the Pew Research Center survey, because from my very limited perspective, UK attitudes to the US have improved hugely since Obama replaced Bush. For right or wrong the popular UK view of Bush was as a bit of a heart-on-sleeve gung-ho buffoon, whereas Obama is generally seen here as wise and thoughtful, if at times a little ponderous. Unfortunately Romney hasn’t garnered much better press over here than Bush did, and though we welcome his promise not to return to a war-mongering foreign policy many of us are far from convinced (and we still find attitudes to Israel bizarre). Few of us have great hope in the Republicans’ commitment to the environment either. And issues like these do potentially affect the planet pretty seriously.

      I take your point about not trusting in princes or mortal man. Ultimately, yes, my hope for salvation is in God – both for myself and for the world. But… God didn’t stop the Holocaust or Hiroshima or 9/11, and he doesn’t appear to be stopping global warming. That’s not a statement of lack of faith, just of plain fact. Of course, America may not be able to stop things like these either, but it probably has more power for both good and ill in the world than any other nation at the moment. And of course, with great power goes great responsibility… ‘To whomever much is given, of him will much be required’.

      I don’t set great store by the Nobel peace prize, but yes I’d be more than willing to share it with Bill Clinton, and possibly with Ronald Reagan (another president about whom we Brits have seriously mixed feelings).

      All the very best, whoever you decide to vote for! 🙂


      • Jim Pruitt says:

        Thanks as always. Well put.

        I modestly suggest that your view of American conservative Christians (I don’t count myself among them) may be incomplete. I wish our countries were closer politically because we face common threats that, in my view, have little to do with the rise of the religious right. And, to update what Thomas Jefferson once said: “We might have been a free and great people together”
        But that’s another story. Cheers.


        • Thanks – I’m sure you’re right that my view of American conservative Christians is incomplete, and I’d be glad to have my views challenged and my understanding expanded. We mostly only get to hear of the extremes, and what I see of the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells scares the life out of me. The Mark Driscolls and other neo-Calvs seem fairly scary too, not to mention the Paul Ryans!

          I’d also be interested to hear your thoughts on the common threats that face our countries.

          And on a different note I’d like to express our concern over Hurricane Sandy, and extend our well wishes (and prayers) to all of you.



  2. kati says:

    I bet u wish u wouldn’t have voted for obama now!


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