Recap of the ongoing series: Though politics is not something I care much about, I do care a little. So I’ve been forming my opinions, and while in previous years, I have based my decisions on the shifting sands of current political crises, I’ve come to believe that Torah gives very helpful instructions on the subject of choosing a leader. So I’ll be basing my conclusions on the following:
1) The president must be a brother. Devarim/Deuteronomy 17:15 says when we set up a king, he is to be someone whom YHVH chooses. He is to be a brother (or by interpretation sister), and not a foreigner. I take this to mean not a blood brother, but someone who has the same Father, namely YHVH.
2) A judge ought to be able, god-fearing, truthful, and hating covetousness/dishonest gain (Exodus 18:21). This is fairly straight forward, but I note that it doesn’t say “knowing Torah”. These characteristics when confronted with truth found in Torah would be inclined to obey it, but there have been god-fearing truthful people in scripture who did not know Torah. David and Yoshiyahu, both commended as godly did not know Torah, but repented when they recognized it.
As I said before, this isn’t pronouncing judgment on souls, but weighing the fruit (because that’s what the mitzvoth require): Conclusions so far, based on a command to find POSITIVE evidence of each quality?
Bernie Sanders: Does not look like a brother. Has some ability. Is not godfearing. Somewhat truthful. Somewhat anti-covetous. Conclusion: No vote.
[Note on Bernie. I upgraded my original appraisal because while he doesn't acknowledge THE truth, he has been consistent in saying unpopular things that he apparently believes. And also credit on hating covetousness, because while he doesn't know what Torah says about ownership (therefore what it says about covetousness), he is about redistribution of wealth (and fairly consistently) which is some evidence of hating covetousness.]
CURRENT CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton
Brotherhood/Sisterhood: The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hillary-clinton-talks-about-faith-family-to-mark-dc-churchs-200th-anniversary/2015/09/13/578657a2-58e3-11e5-b8c9-944725fcd3b9_story.html) shows that Hillary has made no secret of her Methodist upbringing and faith. I’m tempted to call this an ‘explicit’ confession, but frankly it feels cultural. But a house doesn’t make a family, and being part of a church doesn’t make Our Father-your father. Also, her daughter seems to have inherited a “hope my child finds her own faith mentality” which if we’re talking about The Family is kind of like saying “I sure hope my child finds their own family.” It makes no sense unless you have an insubstantial view of your identity as a child of YHVH.
A TIME article, http://time.com/2927925/hillary-clintons-religion/, shows similar history. It does seem though that Hillary has a pattern of espousing her “faith” and connecting with religious leaders like Billy Graham, but again without explicitly saying what her faith is. It’s described as a motivator and background music; its described like a cultural attribute or a habit, but in whom is this faith? Is saying, “I go to a church,” the same as saying, “I worship and trust in the G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’acov”?
When surveying atheism.about.com and http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2015/09/11/3700620/hillary-clinton-pulpit/, it seems from those who are most likely to want distance themselves from religion, there seems to be a strong belief that Hillary’s religion is in fact genuine. That in fact her politics are born out of the actual scriptural teachings to tikkun olam (repair the world: a Hebrew thought I learned recently, ironically, from reading about Bernie Sanders).
Conclusion: I have to conclude there is some evidence that she is a sister, because she does claim it. Am I convinced? I said, 1, not two. Her lack of vocalness to nail down her foundational doctrine bothers me. If you ask me about my faith, I may say that I’m not a great example, or that I’m not perfect, etc., but I believe YHVH is THE God. I can’t say any less. If you think you know the person who created everything, and that He chose you according to His purposes . . . I mean . . . I ‘brag’ about having shook Chuck Norris’ hand. If I know I am clay in the hand of the one who formed Chuck Norris (and Hillary Clinton), how can I be anything but definitive about it? Can you imagine any saint from scripture saying, “I follow a god, because that’s how I grew up, and I like his message, but you can believe what you find works for you.”
But, brother/sister doesn’t mean you are without sin. That’s what Yom Kippur is all about. Interceding for brothers and sisters who are astray.
Ability? Hillary has shown she can think. Has she had any executive experience? Well, she was Secretary of State. However, tainted seems to have been the results . . . Is she smart enough? I’ll have to give her the benefit of the doubt and say there is some evidence that she can do the job.
God-fearing? To that I’ll have to say there is not evidence, the reason being, as I said before with Bernie Sanders, that god-fearing is not about coincident practice. For example, a person who has never committed adultery because no one ever found them attractive enough is not the same as someone who has access to a willing partner and refuses to commit adultery. God-fearing speaks to the motivation behind behavior not the behavior itself. She is pro-redistribution of wealth, but where is her faith-based explanation for being unwilling to support late-term (or really any) abortion bans? Scripture is clear, that God considers life in the womb to be whole peoples and nations, even more than just one life. So how can that simply be disregarded without even making a ’Christian’ argument about it. Instead, where do her arguments land? On women’s rights (a nebulous liberal idea), not on scripture, not on God. The same on her pro-homosexual/bisexual/transgendered stances. She says her faith is what everything she does floes from, so explain those things in those terms. The point is not that someone can’t make an argument from scripture for these things, the point is that she doesn’t, why? I can only conclude that her faith really isn’t the motivation she says it is. Hence, not positive evidence that she is god-fearing.
Truthful? Even righteous people have fallen into bouts of deception. Avraham and Yitzchak both lied about their wives being just sisters. David attempted to conceal Bathsheva’s pregnancy by him. Sometimes, deception is even praised, Ya’el deceived and assassinated an enemy, the midwives deceived and saved lives, Rachav deceived and saved lives while working against her own wicked city.
But is deception a go-to option for a candidate? Do they persist in it? Without knowing what the truth about something is (having often only dubious sources). I say that because I can see some possible perspectives from which Clinton could be telling the truth, others where she could be using hyperbole, and others where she could just be lying. So a better way to approach this (in my opinion) is not whether she’s lied or not, but simply has she convinced me (or you) that she’s a generally honest person. Because here’s the thing: in the Torah’s guidance that judges ought to be such and such, there is a key phrase “men that are known“. It’s not enough to be honest, you have to be known to honest. People have to be able to come to a judge and say, “Oh yeah, we both know this person is truthful.” And with Hillary . . . even if I can insert reasonable doubt, say for example, maybe emails on her server have retroactively been deemed classified (which really happens), that reasonable doubt does not translate into reasonable crediability. So I have to conclude that she does not have evidence.
Hating covetousness? Being for redistribution, I’m inclined to assume that’s she’s anti-covetousness, just as I earlier-later concluded of Bernie Sanders. That mindset has to count for something. On the other hand, the fact that she and her family are very wealthy (estimated net worth being between 11 million and 21 billion), says something too. Does wealth equal covetousness? No. But if she is so for redistribution and has such a problem with inequality, why does she hold on to so-much? Why is she trying to get even more through book tours? Again, making money, and having means to make more money does not equal covetousness. But it can be a sign of it. What does her giving look like?
In 2008, heading into her first run for President, the Clintons claimed about 33% of their income went to charitable giving, however most of it was given to their own foundation. And according to the New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/05/us/politics/05clintons.html?hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1207407943-3oLWqUeYU/w15C2GtleTjQ&_r=0, only about half of what they gave has been redistributed.
Conclusion: But they did give, so like with the truthfulness, I’m left scratching my head and saying, I just don’t know. So I’ll settle on some evidence for hating covetousness.
Hillary Clinton (D) conclusion: No Vote
Bernie Sanders (D): No Vote