Character, competence and conviction

What matters most at election time?

October 1, 2008 - Ray Pennings

Christian voters should not become a political interest group defined by particular key issues. We ought to be concerned and think Christianly about all issues. Our faith impacts aboriginal issues as well as abortion, security as well as social justice, fishery and family policy. Instead of a checklist of issue orthodoxy, I will follow the campaign paying particular attention to competence, character and conviction.

Competence is important because I know that God is more glorified through a job well done than poorly done, and effective government is a blessing for a nation. Also, change that is lasting (which is quite different than headlinegrabbing) requires competence to implement.

While I am not interested in the gossipy details of candidates? private lives, evaluating their character is crucial. Leadership requires courage and the fortitude to resist the particular temptations of public office.

Closely tied to character is conviction, the core beliefs that animate us. All of us, including all political candidates, are believers of one sort or another. What we believe about the big questions of life shapes what we think is important and what will drive our passions, also our political passions.

After 25 years of political engagement, I?ve grown more cynical about election platform promises. While the political junkie in me watches with fascination the campaign games of defining the ballot question and wedge issues, history shows that parties usually govern differently than they campaign.

Elections are important because they decide winners and losers. The importance of who is in government pertains to much more than the legislation that may be passed. It includes appointments to key positions that the governing party gets to make, the ability to draft regulations that shape how legislation is implemented and the appointment of cabinet ministers who make day-to-day departmental decisions regarding spending and priorities that impact everyday life.

In short, the impact of the government we elect on our lives will be more felt in areas that never make the news than in the issues drawing our attention during the five weeks of a campaign. This is just another reason why competence, character and conviction mean more than a checklist of positions and issues mainly designed to win my vote.

Posted in Politics.

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Originally Published

date: October 1, 2008
publisher: Christian Week