EDITOR’S NOTE: Marshal Ausberry is the first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention; president of the National African American Fellowship; and senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax Station, Va.
FAIRFAX STATION, Va. (BP) — Recently, I made a statement that in the last election cycle, “I voted for the candidate that I felt was the least bad candidate.” Some people looked at me as if it was the strangest thing they had ever heard.
I remember being in a meeting during the 2016 election cycle. The facilitator of the meeting said that they were not voting for either candidate and implied that we should not vote as well. I vehemently objected.
Let me share how I came to my point: To vote for the least bad candidate.
The reality is there is no perfect candidate. POTUS does not stand for Pastor of the United States, but for President of the United States. We must realize that every president is a human with the flaws and ills of humanity. In other words, Jesus is not running for President of the United States, therefore no matter who runs and is ultimately elected, they will always be the least bad candidate.
But let me share with you why I must vote even if I feel like I am voting for the least bad candidate.
I will never tell anyone who to vote for. I believe it is your choice, as you feel led by God. Even if I or anyone else does not understand, it is your right to vote for the candidate of your choice. Brothers and sisters in Christ should not allow our voting differences to divide us. I might send you a text “SMH” (shaking my head) because of your choice, but I will love you as my sibling in Christ.
Most African Americans view voting as a sacred trust because we have not always had the guaranteed legal right to vote. I am old enough to remember that my grandparents were denied the right to vote simply because of the color of their skin. When people of their generation and my parents’ generation attempted to vote, they were met with fierce resistance. Many were threatened, intimidated, jailed, lynched, killed or fired from employment for trying to vote.
African Americans have bled and died to gain the right to vote. Those who have always had the right to vote might be able to sit out an election or two. But for most African Americans, we owe it to our ancestors who paid the price for us to vote. I personally owe it to my grandparents and to my parents.
Through the political and legal system, African Americans have garnered much progress and mandated change in the United States of America. When we vote, we have a say in the political process. We have a say in who gets appointed to be judges and Supreme Court justices. We have a say in which laws ultimately get passed.
We have a say in who occupies political offices every two, four, or six years. And through our vote, we have the opportunity to get the attention of those who desire to occupy those seats. What do they all want from us? They all want our precious and priceless vote!
When you don’t vote and your neighbor votes, in one sense it’s as if you give your neighbor’s vote the weight of two votes.
I encourage everyone to register and vote, because the right to vote has come at an extremely high price. You owe it to your ancestors to vote and you owe it to the next generation to vote. I will not tell you who to vote for — I do not publicly endorse candidates — but please vote.
As Christians in America, your voice is heard through your vote. We don’t have a lot of influence with Hollywood, the arts, or the news media, but we do have influence in the political process, which ultimately impacts our society in which we live.
If you choose not to vote, it is between you and God. I’m going to love you anyhow, and I’m going to love you even if I “SMH” at your choice. Prayerfully consider the cost so many have paid to give all of us the right to vote.
America is a great nation because we all have the right to vote! Even if sometimes we find ourselves voting for the least bad candidate!