What is Post-Candidate Politics?

By Timothy King 4-18-2012
Voting for Us, Sojourners
Voting for Us, Sojourners

For a lot of voters, President Barack Obama’s tenure hasn’t turned out quite as they hoped. On the other side, the presumptive GOP nominee, Gov. Mitt Romney, isn’t the candidate that many voters seem ready to believe in.

Traditional political parties are in decline. In December 2011, Gallup reported that 45 percent of the U.S. population identified as politically independent. At the same time, the direction of our two parties is more and more influenced by political movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

While there is an unprecedented level of money flowing into elections from wealthy donors, corporations and unions, social media has democratized access to fellow voters. You can spend millions of dollars buying airtime on traditional TV stations—but it is entirely possible to craft a compelling message that will reach millions for a relatively small cost.

As a young evangelical Christian, I’ve seen a lot of bad examples of how Christians engage politics. Wherever there is a lot of power, there are a lot of dangers. Seeing a lot of others get something wrong can make the task seem daunting but isn’t necessarily a good excuse not to try at all.

A politically disillusioned electorate and a huge influx of money for attack ads will be a challenge to our country’s democratic processes. The danger, especially for my generation, is to tune out from political and civic engagement entirely.

The opportunity is post-candidate politics.

The mistake that a lot of voters—and young people in particular—have made is to put our faith for social change in a very narrow definition of politics. Parties, personalities and elections will never accomplish everything that we hope they will.

Politics doesn’t begin and end at the voting booth. Politics is all the things we decided to do together. It includes, but is not limited to, the things the government does. That means that being a faithful citizen requires being both a local practitioner and a national advocate for justice.

Volunteering, entrepreneurship, being a good neighbor, building strong families, are all ways to build communities and, in a sense, are political acts.

Voting is important, not because a properly cast ballot will solve the world’s problems, but because it’s a voice for people and issues that we care about.  

Many young people have felt disconnected from “values” discussions because the values being promoted aren’t the ones that they hold. That’s why Sojourners worked with young Christians to produce this video that gives voice to a broader range of concerns:

Politics, electorally and more broadly, is worth engaging. It might be frustrating to see the influence of money or a shallow focus on personality but that won’t change unless we demand more from the system. Online modes of communication create the possibility of getting out a message that wouldn’t be heard otherwise.

Help us spread this message. Share the video and start a discussion with your friends and families about the people and issues that motivate you.

This November, vote for US.

Tim King is Communications Director for Sojourners. Follow Tim on Twitter @TMKing.

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