When I became eighteen years of age I registered myself as a Republican. My parents were Republicans so that is what I knew. During the reign of George W. Bush it became evident that I did not share many of the values of that party, so I registered as a Democrat. I enjoyed that experience because I will be able to tell my children stories about the primary race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, which is arguably one of the most important socio-political shifts in our nation’s history.
As someone who is married to a Latina, which indicates my children will share in her Mexican identity, and as someone who may someday parent a daughter or two, this will be an example of how someone of minority ethnic status and/or the female gender can become something in this country without being hindered by mere prejudice or misguided tradition (though I hope politics is not part of their future). Even if you think Clinton and Obama were not the ideal at least began the process of moving past Anglo-Saxon Male hegemony. It removes the excuse for many that only certain people can achieve certain things in this country though I do not deny that there remains an unjust imbalance between people groups.
That being said it became evident to me that political affiliation often overshadowed Christian unity during the last election. At times I was bothered by other Christians political positions; more often I was bothered by the blind allegiance to a particular political party in all policies and procedures. As someone who has read enough about pre-WWII Germany, the stand of Karl Barth, the Barmen Declaration, and the bravery of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one very important convinction that I have developed is to avoid merging my national-political identity with my Christian identity. Christ would not vote for anyone; Christ would not affiliate with any political party; Christ was the Messiah and if anyone must affiliate with anyone it is we with him. Christ is not captive to our unstable whims and emotions in the political sphere.
When I see my fellow Christians becoming excessively supportative of various military offensives, or Zionism, or certain pro-choice positions, or this or that political agenda that is very, very hard to incorporate into the Christian faith, to the point where other Christians who are not on board with this endeavor are discounted, it concerns me. I know this is not a black-and-white issue. If a Christian said he or she supported legalizing human trafficking it would cause me to doubt the seriousness of their faith. I know other agendas cause a similar reaction amongst other Christians (like pro-life Christians meeting pro-choice Christians; the nuances go right out the window in most discussions). I know it is not black-and-white, but I also know that most of the issues causing division in the church today (at least here in the United States) probably shouldn’t supercede Christian unity.
So today after I did my DMV Knowledge Test for my driving license here in Oregon when I was handed a voter’s registration I checked the box indicating that I have no political affiliation. This does not mean that I am withdrawing toward quietism. I will vote on issues and I will vote on politicians, but God help me, unless the issue seems too black-and-white to overlook, it is my desire to avoid debates and divisions with and against other Christians on the basis of political ideologies. For me this begins by refusing to be co-opted by allegiance to this or that party allegiance.