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Joel BelzVoices Joel Belz

Third party?

This election leaves many of us wishing we had something better

By my latest calculation, the roughly half-million people who make up WORLD’s readers and listeners each week are likely to divide their votes next month among three different groupings:

Those who hope to elect Donald Trump—Something well over 50 percent. Half will be enthusiastic about their choice, and others will cast their ballots under duress.

Those who favor Joe Biden—If it’s over 25 percent, almost everyone will be surprised. Only a handful will be excited about that choice.

Those who fervently wish they had a third choice—Something approaching 100 percent.

No way could I withhold my vote from Biden and then give a pass to Trump.

To be sure, these are not scientific numbers. They’re based on my observations over the last 68 years—watching what happened in 18 different presidential elections. I’m naturally looking forward to testing the accuracy of my theories in the days after the Nov. 3 election. We’ll never get a chance to compare such projections with actual numbers. Even after the election results are validated, there will be no official record of how WORLD members voted. For those figures, we’d have to turn to some professional pollsters who might bless us with the fruit of their expertise.

That may or may not be worth the bother. We already know—not with mathematical precision, but with general common sense—how our WORLD family lines up. Substantially and significantly more than half of us tend to see ourselves as conservative Republicans, both economically and socially. Substantially and significantly fewer than half of us see ourselves as political moderates.

My guess is that when they go to the polls a few days from now, some conservatives in the WORLD family will vote for Trump, and some moderates will vote for Biden. The pollsters will tell us what their samples on Election Day tell them, but that divide is only part of the story.

We should not leave out the many of us unsatisfied with the shape of that choice. In some situations, we would have been thought of and referred to as third-party folks. But that doesn’t fit this time around. We are much more committed to a few ideals than we are to a person or a movement.

So it didn’t take long, after the Democrats chose Joe Biden as their presidential candidate, for some of us to conclude that it was impossible for us to support him. The reasons stretch from his comprehensive commitment to the pro-abortion movement to his selection of demonstrably leftist Kamala Harris as his running mate.

The debate among us concerning a vote to renew Trump’s lease on the White House was more problematic. We were grateful for his appointment of hundreds of right-thinking personnel (especially to the judiciary and bloated regulatory bureaucracy). Our applause meter leaped as he nudged other nations’ governments to take up their share of leading the world. He seems bold in supporting educational choice. But we were stressed—again and again—at the president’s utter carelessness with facts, his rudeness and crudeness, and his mocking disdain for his opponents and sometimes even for his friends.

Bottom line: No way could I withhold my vote from Biden and then—with virtually the same set of standards—give a pass to Trump. The longer I studied the matter (including WORLD’s thoughtful Oct. 10 Q&As with David French and Wayne Grudem) the more I concluded I couldn’t endorse either for the upcoming election.

And that’s when I began to discover how many folks within this WORLD family were standing pretty much where I was, saddled with the same dilemma. It’s a much bigger group than I thought. But it’s not my intention or practice to try to persuade others to join me in taking this position. I applaud those whose consciences support them in backing specific candidates.

Will I turn in a blank ballot? No way. Will I write in someone like Nikki Haley or Kay James? Maybe. I’ve still got a few days to resolve such important issues.

In the meantime, I’ll remind all WORLD members who are imitators of Jesus to pursue the wisdom of Ephesians 5:8-10: “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”  


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  • greatjoy92
    Posted: Thu, 10/15/2020 05:33 pm

    Thank you for being willing to publicly consider voting for someone other than Trump or Biden. It's refreshing to hear someone in a position of influence not telling me to shut up and do my Christian duty to vote for Trump.

    Personally, I've always been a pretty libertarian leaning member of World's readership. I'm not a big fan of the Libertarian Party, but I like the philosophy. Please consider Jo Jorgensen for your vote this year! She's not perfect, but she seems like an upstanding woman and has some good ideas. Maybe together we can all upset this crazy 2 party stranglehold!

    (And she's on the ballot in all 50 states and DC! No write-in required.)

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Thu, 10/15/2020 07:54 pm

    Joel has fallen into the trap of making this election about personalities.  What is at stake is the Republic itself, which would end once the electoral college is eliminated.  Packing the Supreme Court would eliminate separation of powers and would make the court political.  Democrats have proposed rewriting the Bill of Rights.  They want to add more states.  They want to fund abortion and defund the police, eliminate borders, allow non-citizens to vote and get welfare, eliminate energy independence, appease terrorists, tear down American history, ruin the economy and keep the country in lockdown indefinitely.   All of the sins in Romans One are celebrated in the Democratic platform.

    As much as World Magazine hates Trump, is it possible to at least acknowledge that he is a fighter for a just cause?  Remember that Generals MacArthur and Patton were criticized for many of the same shortcomings, but they were fighters who accomplished much.  We are not electing a national pastor.

  • JUSTIN10292000
    Posted: Fri, 10/16/2020 01:49 am

    Very well said!  Not voting or voting for a 3rd party candidate this year is tantamount to voting for a President Kamala Harris.

  • gndgirl
    Posted: Thu, 10/15/2020 09:06 pm

    Voting for a third-party candidate may seem to solve the dilemma of choosing between two candidates with bad character, but solves nothing. We have the choice we have, and to vote otherwise denies reality. I like what John Stonestreet says (he said this on the World and Everything Podcast some months ago).  We must consider character, but when both candidates have dubious character, then you must consider policies and people. What are the policies each candidate brings to the table, and who are the 6000 or so people the candidate will bring with them. In both these areas I believe Trump is a better choice than Biden. This election is too important to throw away by voting for a third-party candidate with no chance of winning. It might make the voter feel better, but does nothing to help the  nation.

  • SM
    Posted: Thu, 10/15/2020 09:51 pm

    Thank you for this article. As someone who cannot vote for Biden but does not want to vote for Trump, as conservative as I consider myself to be, I appreciate hearing someone else in a similar dilemma. Four years ago when I made the decision to vote for a third party, i was told by a number of well-meaning people that I would be voting for Hilary if I voted for a third party, and that it would be my fault if Trump lost. As if somehow God abandoned America and decided to stop controlling the universe he created. However, I followed my conscience and voted for a worthy third party candidate, and I don't regret that decision at all. This year, the choice is less clear for me. There are no worthy third party candidates on the ballot. So I will be praying for wisdom these next few weeks and praising God that he holds the universe in his hands, that he raises up nations and brings them down. Blessed be the name of the Lord. 

  •  SleeperSRT10's picture
    Posted: Thu, 10/15/2020 09:50 pm

    Mr. Belz,

    If you are a supporter of abortion before and after birth, the promotion of homosexuality among young children, and the suppression of religious freedom, then by all means please feel free to vote for anyone other than Donald Trump.  Let your conscience be your guide.

  • CH
    Posted: Sat, 10/17/2020 10:07 am

    Thank you, Joel!

    We need to get free from the duopoly that has driven us to ever more extreme choices which please an ever decreasing percentage of the American electorate. The majority of voters has rightly been called "the exhausted middle" since so few of us can tolerate the political options available to us.

    A vote for a third party may not be a winning vote, but it is emphatically NOT, as some implicitly or explicitly claim, the same thing as not voting at all. Voting third party is a loud, clear vote AGAINST a rotten status quo, and a call for the nation to be freed from the increasingly egregious two-party hegemony.

    Here is an option I can get behind -- whether it is likely to win or not. I consider voting for a third party -- and this one in particular -- a vote for national sanity and for the reform of a very broken system.