Questions people ask often tell you just as much about a situation as the answers. So it was that the second of three presidential debates for the most powerful job in the world gave us a glimpse into what Americans are worrying about as they face the November 8 election. On Sunday’s town hall debate, the issues posed to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump included a composite of the top 30 questions Americans had entered into PresidentialOpenQuestions.com
First came the plea of a school teacher who wanted to know if the issues and tone in this debate were going to be appropriate for students to learn from. Then the hope of the working man who wanted affordable health care to be fair. A Muslim woman was next, she wanted to be respected and welcomed in America, then the middle aged taxpayer who wanted assurance rich people were going to pay a fair amount of taxes. Another asked, is it okay for politicians to be two faced, to hold one opinion publically but another in private? Then a doubling down on foreign policy and what the candidates intended to do about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo and Syria; ”isn’t it a lot like the holocaust?”
If questions are any indication of reality, I thought the town hall reflected an America that wanted fairness, decency and peacemaking.
Instead, they got a stage prowling and aggressive Mr. Trump who in the first question on decency defended the fallout of his 2005 video of outrageous misogynist behaviour as “locker room talk” and turned to attack Mrs. Clinton’s husband’s sexual history. The display once again made me wonder how and why Mr. Trump was gathering a faith advisory council, and who would dare join such. Thankfully Christian culture watcher Ed Stetzer has explained that mystery, telling us conservative evangelicals on that council are digging in to rebuke the candidate they hoped would do at least a hail Mary pass on for their interest on the Supreme Court nominations to protect the unborn.
For many faith filled voters, Mrs. Clinton is also a difficult candidate to vote for; unrestricted abortion, politics and profit, Benghazi and email honesty obscured, yet if compassion for refugees, and economic justice drive your faith, her arguments in Sunday’s debate were compelling.
Thankfully a closing public question posed a character reveal; “Name one trait you respect in each other?” Mrs. Clinton said, “I respect his children; they are incredibly able and devoted.” Mr. Trump; “I will say this about Hillary; She doesn’t quit, she doesn’t give up, I respect that.”
I’ve written before on why Christianity can never be spun as a means to political power, it’s just not the same value system, but followers of God are exhorted in the Bible to pray for leaders so it will go well for our lives, and to be reminded God controls the heart of our ruler.
The world seems to many of us more dangerous than we can remember. ISIS has doubled the number of Christians being persecuted for their faith. Martyrdom, unprecedented homelessness fueled by a global refugee crisis, injustice, and racial tensions mount into the news on a nightly basis. Economic uncertainty marks our debt loads and threatens compassion.
Leadership matters for the peace of our planet.
Last weekend my husband and I did a road trip into the heart of Midwest USA, and when we arrived at our destination near Lanark, Illinois, a friend there greeted us with “Welcome to the demise of America!” We laughed uncomfortably, avoided politics all weekend, but let’s face it, November 8 and the future is a vote we should all be praying for.