I wanted to comment on what it’s like being politically homeless because this is increasingly my reality and it can feel very isolating, especially in hyper-politicized environments like we have right now. But when I describe myself as being “politically homeless”, I do not mean that I am politically “ambivalent” or “neutral”; I actually have very strong convictions about political subjects. I simply think our dominant political parties are wholly bankrupt and the way we approach politics in general needs to change.
Maybe some background might help: I was raised in a staunchly Republican home by very conservative parents. But I eventually developed competing convictions that were incompatible with the political philosophy of the right. For a lot of people, this would have resulted in their political “conversion” to the left, but my views are even more incompatible with the political philosophy of the left.
Given how hyper-politicized America is right now – to the point that our politics has become our religion – I have become isolated because I don’t “buy the whole line” of any political party right now. I have found very few people who will allow me to disagree with their political convictions while remaining their friend. In most cases, allegiance to one brand of political philosophy is a prerequisite to friendship and anyone who disagrees is immediately excommunicado! Even those who are “politically neutral” make neutrality the prerequisite to their friendship. Unfortunately, this has resulted in my feeling like I can’t share my thoughts or I will lose those I love. And this is why I say “politics” has become the dominant American religion because for so many it totally defines them, who their friends are, and who their enemies are.
So where’d these troublesome convictions of mine come from that made me so politically homeless? In short: the Bible.
I’m sure my answer will receive a huge eye-roll from some, a bit of cringe from others, and downright ire from many. That’s okay. I get why some people think Scripture is unsuitable to forming a well-balanced modern worldview. And I get that others have had experiences with religion that’ve left them wanting nothing to do with religion or its adherents. And I certainly understand that there are a lot of people who will be angered by my claim that Christianity is incompatible with the Republican Party (at least, on one level). I disagree with all of these responses, but I do understand them because I’ve had close relationships with people – those few remaining treasured souls who can be friends with people who disagree with them – who have these sentiments.
Anyway, my convictions begin with a simple premise that truth is both objective and subjectively knowable. I believe that all reality arises from the will and nature of God, who is both infinite in his being and self-disclosing to finite beings: God is true (John 17:3) and has revealed himself in knowable terms to finite beings (John 17:17). And I have found this principle to be the basis for one of the most elegant virtues of the Christian faith: “humility“. Since God is our objective truth-speaker, and is himself infinite, we are then definitionally limited as finite beings in the degree to which we can understand truth. We see this delicate balance in the Christian faith that acknowledges the objective reality of truth simultaneously alongside our subjective experience therein. which teaches us that “anyone [who] thinks he knows anything… does not yet know it as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:1). And all of this is why “faith” (which refers to our trust in God – See Hebrews 11:1) is the means of righteousness (Romans 1:17) because our relationship with God ultimately requires us as finite beings to trust that God is true in all that he does and tells us. But I digress.
As I began to grapple with what I believe are Scripture’s essential truth claims, I began to see irreconcilable conflicts between the political philosophies of both the “right” and “left”. For example, the left has boiled everything down to racial inequality, at least at the popular level, and yet I believe that there is “one human race” (Acts 17:26), and I think the realities of human genetics supports this conclusion, which we see, “genetically speaking, studies have shown that there is much greater genetic variation within a given human population (e.g., Africans, Caucasians, or Asians) than between populations (Africans vs. Caucasions), indicating that human variation cannot be subdivided into discrete races.” So, because “racial divisions” today are the results of social-constructs rather than biological differences, the resolution to these divisions will come from “forgiveness”, “respect”, and “love” (Matthew 5:44; 18:21-35; Romans 12:18-21), not the use of “force”, “legislation”, which is the political exercise of force, or “political dominance”. But the left only pursues these latter solutions, which will actually exasperate our divisions. We need “reconciliation”, not “subjugation”. So this alienates me from the left.
Unfortunately my journey into the truth claims of Scripture also put me at odds with the political background of my heritage on the right. For example, the right has made anti-immigration policy central to their platform, again, at least at the popular level, and yet I believe Jesus taught his disciples to take in foreigners and show them hospitality (Matthew 25:34-35). A lot of Christians miss this point, but in Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and the Goats, he blesses those who “take in strangers” as personally taking him in, and the word he used for “stranger” is the word “ξένος” (xenos), which describes someone who is “unknown” or “foreign”. The septuagint uses this word to translate passages like Exodus 22:21, which clearly refer to “foreigners”. And it is the word from which we derive our English word “xenophobia” (i.e. the fear of foreigners). I recognize that my conservative-friends will immediately object that Jesus was not instituting civil-policy in this parable, and I wholeheartedly agree. But this doesn’t mean we’re then free to advocate for public policies that are directly oppose the virtues Jesus taught his disciples. I just don’t read Jesus as appreciating someone who would say “well, Lord, I would shown hospitality to foreigners if there were any needy foreigners around, but, we’ve made sure that they can’t get into our country, so… I don’t know what to tell ya.” I think it’s clear that “justice does not ordinarily allow other people to set up barriers” between innocent parties seeking to peacefully live with one another (Bas Van Der Vossen). Christians must examine their political ideals in light of God’s word, not only with human reasoning that can be so easily distorted. God told humanity to “spread throughout the world ” and the Bible has much to say about how we should treat foreigners. We should be the most welcoming and hospitable people on earth to foreigners, being eager to help them and share the good news of Jesus Christ with them.
I could provide example after example like these of where my convictions about what I think are true and right are simply incompatible with both political parties. But these are sufficient to illustrate the point of my post, which is to say that the self-interested morally degenerate political parties of American politics are intellectually, spiritually, and philosophically bankrupt, and are not fit to receive the blind loyalties of anyone whose aim is to adhere to what is true and right. Political allegiance to any political system will eventually require one to defend the indefensible and compromise one’s integrity. We have to start thinking for ourselves again, even if that causes us to become politically homeless.
Now I realize those who know me might interject at this point by pointing out that I self-describe as “libertarian”. And that is correct. I describe my political orientation as “libertarian” with a small “L”. And I’ve succeeded in convincing a few of my friends on both the right and left to reconsider themselves as lower-case “democrats” or “republicans” for the same reasons: while I think the broad political principles of libertarianism are useful for forming peaceful society among diverse groups of people, I’m not “Libertarian” in the sense of blindly subscribing to the political agenda of the Libertarian Party. I sharply disagree on philosophical, political, and spiritual grounds with the Libertarian Party. For example, the Libertarian Party’s affirmation of abortion violates their own principles of “self-ownership” (i.e. the baby’s right to self-determination) and the non-aggression; the mother does not have the right to act as an aggressor against the life of her child under any circumstances. The Libertarian Party is violating its own principles in order to appeal to broader audiences and gain political power. So this still leaves me quite politically homeless in the sense that I find no political home where I can safely say that I fully support their agenda. And I think anyone who loves truth and wants to do what is right will find themselves in the same boat. Someone might disagree with my conclusion that libertarianism is a better civil philosophy. Maybe they prefer liberalism or conservatism. But finding a political home within any political party will lead to destructive compromises.
So when I say that I’m politically homeless, I am in essence saying that I have rejected the spiritual / religious nature that politics has taken on today. My politics are not my ultimate defining truths, they are simply the solutions I think are most useful for forming peaceful order among diverse groups of people. Nor is my political party my spiritual family where I find my identity and sense of fulfillment, it is merely the group of people who share some of the political solutions that I think will work. Instead, my politics arise from those higher truths that supersede them, and this is why I can be friends with people who do not share my politics. I have sat down to eat with liberals, conservatives, anarchists, and woke philosophers. We have talked politics, and with those who are willing to remain friends with me even when I disagree with them, we have remained friends.
For this reason I propose that we desperately need more politically homeless people in America. If there is any hope for America to avoid another catastrophic Civil War, we have to start thinking for ourselves again. We have to stop worshiping false political messiah-figures. And we have to anchor ourselves to the higher truths that truly define us. But make no mistake, as long as we cling to our politics as the truths that define and shape us, our certain future is escalating degrees of destructive internal conflict!
Ultimately I suspect that what I have written may only make everyone mad at me. And, although that isn’t what I want, at least, I will have illustrated my point that to truly have politically independent thoughts in today’s religiously political environment is excruciatingly isolating. But my real hope in writing this is to inspire others to start thinking for themselves and challenge the policies of their political parties to see if they really do agree with those higher truths that define their lives. In so doing, some might stand up and hold their political parties in check, thus restraining the madness of this country for a little while longer, while others might ultimately discover what really defines them!
One Reply to “On Being Politically Homeless”
I’m with you on these basic principles. Over the years I’m tried to match my biblical convictions as closely as possible with whatever candidate is available and then hold my nose as I vote — because there’s always something biblical unattractive about any one of them.
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