Gun control or technology control?

In the aftermath of another mass shooting, we turn to each other and say that it is time for sensible gun control. We don’t know the details, but we proclaim that something must be done.

In my view, we don’t actually want gun control. What we really want is the ability to control how military technology—actually, all technology— is used. The same technological advancements that make our military and police the best equipped in the world are what make bad actors so dangerous.

U.S. defense spending has always subsidized research and development in the area of efficient killing. President Lincoln was a famous military tech guru. Consider some obvious breakthroughs from the Civil War: submarines, machine guns, aerial surveillance, and ironclad ships. During World War II, we turned jukebox manufacturers into armories.

Defense spending itself is the lamentable result of the fall. If men were angels, we wouldn’t have to buy Sherman Tanks. As it is, we are left to hope that the good guys always have the best weapons.

The Las Vegas shooter had the most efficient killing technology that was reasonably available to him. As devastating as that episode was, there is much better technology out there. You can treat the symptom, guns, but you can’t cure the disease, human sin.  

Advancements in the field of efficient killing should be met with awe and terror. The U.S. and Russia have nuclear arsenals capable of wiping out humanity. This is incredible power in the hands of politicians. Trigger-happy governments are much more dangerous than deranged civilians. Compare the devastation of World War I to that of the Las Vegas shooting.

We are just citizens in the hands of an angry president.

We want all the benefits of innovation without the baggage of human sin. This general statement is true in all areas of our lives from reproductive technology to farming. In the last 100 years, humans have developed all sorts of amazing tools, but all of them can be used for good or evil.

If our moral reasoning doesn’t keep pace with our technological innovation, well, you get something like abortion pills, environmental ruin, and death camps. We constantly heap praise upon praise on the innovators, but we don’t have the slightest clue as to what innovation hath wrought.

Review: The Benedict Option

Rod Dreher is the conservative author who wrote the book that started this great war.

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Well, it hasn’t exactly been a war, but the nasty tweets, reviews, and blog posts have been whizzing like bullets. The point of controversy is Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. The episode has undoubtedly been good for traffic, sales, and small group discussions.

In some ways, the Benedict Option (“Ben Op”) controversy is surprising and unexpected. Dreher has been hashing out the Ben Op for a number of years now. If you’re unfamiliar with the Ben Op, I encourage you to read Dreher’s article “Benedict Option FAQ” from 2015. Dreher provides a succinct definition.  

The “Benedict Option” refers to Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire, and who therefore are keen to construct local forms of community as loci of Christian resistance against what the empire represents. Put less grandly, the Benedict Option — or “Ben Op” — is an umbrella term for Christians who accept [Alasdair] MacIntyre’s critique of modernity, and who also recognize that forming Christians who live out Christianity according to Great Tradition requires embedding within communities and institutions dedicated to that formation.

If the Ben Op is about intentional Christian community, there isn’t much reason for a controversy here.

Why are some Christians choosing the Ben Op?

Rod Dreher answers this question in the first chapter of The Benedict Option. The opening chapter lacks nuance, but hits on the important points. Christianity and organized religion in general are losing market share. Dreher writes that “[h]ostile secular nihilism has won the day in our nation’s government, and the culture has turned powerfully against traditional Christians. We tell ourselves that these developments have been imposed by a liberal elite, because we find the truth intolerable: The American people, either actively or passively, approve.” Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation 9 (2017).

Furthermore, orthodox Christians have lost a significant amount of cultural sway and influence. See the short-sighted and desperate endorsements of Donald J. Trump. The barbarians aren’t just at the gates, they’re running our institutions, policing our culture, and creating Amazon Original Series. Whether we like it or not, according to Dreher, our kids are steeped in a framework that is antithetical to orthodox Christianity.

If you’ve read Alasdair MacIntyre’s book After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory or Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self, then I don’t think Dreher’s diagnosis of our culture should surprise you. I’m nothing more than an armchair philosopher, but even I know that there are irreconcilable differences in our society. We protest because we can’t reason together.

What is good?

Dreher relies on MacIntyre’s definition of “emotivism” to describe our moral framework. MacIntyre defines [e]motivism as “the doctrine that all evaluative judgments and more specifically all moral judgments are nothing but (emphasis in original) expressions of preference, expressions of attitude or feeling, insofar as they are moral or evaluative in character.” Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory Second Edition 11-12 (1984).

We’re all emotivists to some degree. When we hear someone talk in absolutist terms about morality or right living, our immediate reaction is to dismiss the speaker as terribly naive. Surely there is a defeater for every moral framework. At least, that’s what we’re taught. Don’t judge because your neighbor’s moral preference is just as valid, warranted, and true as yours. Emotivism is not found in orthodox Christianity, but we can’t avoid being influenced by our environment.

Chapter two of The Benedict Option tries to explain why we’re all emotivists. Dreher provides a tl;dr summary of 2000 years in the West. It’s what you would expect in a popular-level book. This chapter is fine if you want a partisan historical survey. If this sort of thing interests you at all, go read Charles Taylor.

In chapter three, Dreher recounts his visit to the Monastery of St. Benedict and describes Benedict’s Rule. The Benedictines do not live according to the harm principle. No, life in the monastery is strictly regulated.

By living out a life of order, prayer, work, etc., the Benedictines orient their lives around a specific telos and vision of the good. The Ben Op isn’t just about running away. It’s about forming character and thriving in Christian community. “The way of Saint Benedict is not an escape from the real world but a way to see that world and dwell in it as it truly is.” Dreher, The Benedict Option at 77. The Benedictine community is not a Sunday morning social gathering.

What about the rest of us?

Dreher knows full well that most of us are not going to join a religious order as exacting as the Benedictine Order. Throughout the rest of the book, Dreher uses anecdotes to illustrate the practical application of the Ben Op by average, orthodox Christians in the United States.

I enjoyed the story of Lance Kinzer, a former state legislator, who focused on renewal at his church. Kinzer, a member of a PCA church in Kansas, taught a class on Augustine’s City of God and encouraged members to explore the riches of the Reformed tradition. Kinzer provided some prudential guidelines for Christian engagement in politics in the post GWB-Obama era.

Another practical way Christians live out the Ben Op is by sending their kids to Christian schools. Christian parents must face the reality that public schools are not a neutral public sphere. The fact that many public school children begin the day with the Pledge of Allegiance tells you all you need to know about the telos of government-provided education. Additionally, many Christian schools are just elitist versions of public schools with some Bible classes sprinkled in. Dreher argues that Christians should send their children to classical, Christian schools if at all feasible.

As a Dutch Reformed guy, I find Dreher’s point here entirely uncontroversial. The first one hundred years of the CRCNA is a case study in thick communities that connected culture, church, and school. I recently read J. Gresham Machen’s, Christianity and Liberalism. Machen, who was something of a libertarian, made a similar point about public education. Machen thought that public schools, and state laws that threatened alternative forms of education, were antithetical to liberty and Christianity.

One final point to mention here is how Christians pursue Ben Op living when it comes to sexuality. Dreher lists the sexual revolution as an epochal event in the West. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but our culture’s re-education project on human sexuality is insidious. Christians in the first and second centuries lived peculiar lives marked by a strict sexual ethic. This was part of the Christian witness. The Apostle Paul repeatedly listed sexual immorality among the public sins from which Christians must flee.

I think the critics who are scandalized by Dreher’s call to fight pornography with everything we have and to reject the world’s definition of sexual freedom are missing the point. The Christian witness on sex is not the gospel. Dreher himself would say that. Nonetheless, a peculiar and wholesome sexual ethic is an essential part of Christian living.   

Conclusion

The Benedict Option is not perfect. It’s true that the overall theme of the book focuses on the experience of white Christians in the West. In contrast, minority communities have been living out the Ben Op since, well, forever. As a retort to this criticism, I think Dreher would say that our current culture is more hostile to all Christian communities.

Additionally, you must account for the fact that Dreher comes from an Eastern Orthodox background. I wouldn’t have chosen a monastic order as the archetype of my book. I can’t follow Dreher everywhere because I affirm the Reformed confessions. Nonetheless, I agree with Dreher and Machen that Confessional Protestants, Orthodox believers, and Roman Catholics are bound together by core essentials. The book is written for small “o” orthodox Christians.

I enjoyed The Benedict Option, and I’m not very sympathetic to its critics. This is a book written to a general audience. There are many helpful anecdotes and strategies. I’m all for little Christian platoons and mediating institutions that focus on faith formation and Christian living. None of this takes away from the Great Commission to preach the gospel to all the world. In some respects, this is exactly the Dutch Reformed model. Dreher and Kuyper are allies, not enemies.

Machen on tolerance and liberty

I am ashamed to admit that until this weekend I had not read Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen. This book would have proven very helpful during my college experience. I found the Reformed confessions in my flight from social gospel fundamentalism. Machen was in my bones.

While I love Machen’s theology, there is also much to like about Machen’s political thought.

Machen deeply understood and valued freedom of association. Voluntary associations, such as confessional churches, must be free to set their own boundaries and definitions. This basic point is widely misunderstood.

For example, the “I Love German Shepherds Club” of Grand Rapids, Michigan must be allowed to accept or reject potential members based on the person’s pet preferences. Frankly, many people believe that freedom of association means that the cat lover should have the right to join the I Love German Shepherds Club. This is just flat wrong. If you love cats and not German Shepherds, the club must have the right to exclude you. Otherwise, the club is meaningless.

Machen outlines this argument in his chapter on “The Church.”

Involuntary organizations ought to be tolerant, but voluntary organizations, so far as the fundamental purpose of their existence is concerned, must be intolerant or else cease to exist. The state is an involuntary organization; a man is forced to be a member if it whether he will or no. It is therefore an interference with liberty for the state to prescribe any one type of opinion or any one type of education for its citizens. But within the state, individual citizens who desire to unite for some special purpose should be permitted to do so. Especially in the sphere of religion, such permission of individuals to unite is one of the rights which lie at the very foundation of our civil and religious liberty. The state does not scrutinize the rightness or wrongness of the religious purpose for which such voluntary religious associations are formed—if it did undertake such scrutiny all religious liberty would be gone—but it merely protects the right of individuals to unite for any religious purpose which they may choose.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism 142 (2009).

To put it simply: the state must be tolerant; the church must be intolerant. The alternative is that there is no liberty and no church worthy of the name.

What, then, defines us and them?

We all could feel it. The 2016 election cycle was strange and not in a good way. It had a bad smell to it.

In “Breaking Faith,” from the April issue of The Atlantic, Peter Beinart examines the religious and political trends happening in America right now: declining church attendance, the twilight of the old culture war, the rise of Trump and Bernie, and secular political fights.

On Facebook, I noted the following takeaway points from the article:

  1. The left won the “culture war,”
  2. Nominal Christianity is dying quickly, and
  3. The political fights between right-wing secularists and left-wing secularists will be nasty and brutish.

A quick note on secularism. “Secular,” “secularist,” and “secularism” are tricky words because they are used in many ways and definitions vary. In this article, Beinart uses “secular” to mean no allegiance to a traditional, organized religion. It’s a short-hand, though imprecise, way of saying, not Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.

The twilight of the culture war and declining church attendance have not brought about a new day of peace. No, human nature is what it is. There is no solution for discord this side of the eschaton.

Beinart notes, “As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways.”

The average American’s religious identity is sitting in the background gathering dust like great-aunt Gertrude’s old KJV Bible, while other traits, like ethnicity and national origin, fill the void. Today’s partisans find their purpose in extra-biblical sources.

Read Milo Yiannopoulos and Allum Bokhari’s famous Breitbart.com essay, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right.” It contains five references to “tribe,” seven to “race,” 13 to “the west” and “western” and only one to “Christianity.” That’s no coincidence. The alt-right is ultra-conservatism for a more secular age. Its leaders like Christendom, an old-fashioned word for the West. But they’re suspicious of Christianity itself, because it crosses boundaries of blood and soil. As a college student, the alt-right leader Richard Spencer was deeply influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, who famously hated Christianity. Radix, the journal Spencer founded, publishes articles with titles like “Why I Am a Pagan.” One essay notes that “critics of Christianity on the Alternative Right usually blame it for its universalism.”

Beinart sees a similar trend on the left. According to a recent survey, 73 percent of white liberals seldom or never attended religious services. 73 percent! Not surprisingly, Bernie Sanders’s popularity was fueled by Democrats who do not attend religious services.

I am old enough to remember when there was such a thing as the “Christian left”!

Black activists, meanwhile, are discarding the spiritual motifs, such as the biblical exodus, that motivated the civil rights leaders of the last century.

African Americans under the age of 30 are three times as likely to eschew a religious affiliation as African Americans over 50. This shift is crucial to understanding Black Lives Matter, a Millennial-led protest movement whose activists often take a jaundiced view of established African American religious leaders. Brittney Cooper, who teaches women’s and gender studies as well as Africana studies at Rutgers, writes that the black Church “has been abandoned as the leadership model for this generation.” As Jamal Bryant, a minister at an AME church in Baltimore, told The Atlantic’s Emma Green, “The difference between the Black Lives Matter movement and the civil-rights movement is that the civil-rights movement, by and large, was first out of the Church.”

. . .

Black Lives Matter’s defenders respond that they are not interested in making themselves “respectable” to white America, whether by talking about Jesus or wearing ties. (Of course, not everyone in the civil-rights movement was interested in respectability either.)

These are frightening trends. Say what you will about the failings of the Christian church, it was a unifying and moderating force in American politics. At the end of the day, accountability matters, and Christians are accountable to their God. To whom and what are the members of the alt-right and the new left accountable?

Beinart concludes the article on a dark note. “For years, political commentators dreamed that the culture war over religious morality that began in the 1960s and ’70s would fade. It has. And the more secular, more ferociously national and racial culture war that has followed is worse.”

Future political fights will be nasty and brutish. This postmodernism looks a lot like premodernism. The future is the past. The historian is the oracle.

 

 

Partisanship makes you dumb (Vol. II)

I wrote the first installment of partisanship makes you dumb in January. That post explained that partisanship is an intellectual impairment. Partisanship actually prevents you from reasoning well. The example in that case was a tweet from Rep. Keith Ellison implying that the ACA was somehow responsible for a drop in the cancer death rate over a 20+year period. Dumb city.

We return today to the matter of the Affordable Care Act. Nothing brings out the dumb like the ACA. Here is the second entry in the partisanship makes you dumb series.


This fun quote is from December 2015.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, on Thursday said Republicans will introduce a plan to replace Obamacare next year.

“There are many things to do, but most urgent is to repeal and replace Obamacare,” he said in his first major address as speaker at the Library of Congress. “We think this problem is so urgent that, next year, we are going to unveil a plan to replace every word of Obamacare.”

Republicans are frustrated, Ryan said, because the GOP has not controlled the White House in seven years. The newly-elected speaker suggested his party will have to offer concrete plans in order to win it back.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/speaker-ryan-gop-will-introduce-obamacare-replacement-next-year/

“[W]e are going to unveil a plan to replace every word of Obamacare.” Speaker Paul Ryan, December 3, 2015.

Remember, President Obama was in office in 2015. Speaker Ryan is making this bold proclamation with zero skin in the game because the outcome of any repeal bill was predetermined. President Obama would have obviously vetoed such a bill.

Ok, let’s fast forward to March 2017. A lot has happened. President Trump is in office. The Republicans control both chambers of Congress. The sea has parted for Speaker Ryan.

The #RepealAndReplace moment has arrived.

Result?! Womp. Womp. Womp.

This is what we know: (1) #RepealAndReplace was just another misleading partisan slogan and (2) “Replace every word” sounds nice and tough when you have no skin in the game.

Trump fans certainly should revise expectations for #BuildTheWall. I’m thinking that #RepairThatOneFence might be more appropriate.

Partisanship makes you [dishonest or] dumb. 

Your sign is a house on sand

In our political discourse, we assume too much. It’s a big problem. Let me explain.

To one person, a remark is witty and axiomatic. While to another person, the same remark is rude, offensive, and clearly false. Snarky remarks and sloganeering political ads rely on a thousand assumptions, but are delivered with the confidence of the gospel.

We form tribes, camps, factions, and parties around slogans. Ideology becomes doctrine, and we preach to our own choirs. We expel heretics and venerate saints.

This behavior is understandable. We got our epistemology from Jefferson and our history from the progressives. However, in our religiously pluralistic and ethnically diverse country, there are an endless number of starting points and an endless number of destinations.

It’s exhausting to fully understand ourselves let alone others. We take shortcuts and make leaps instead of proceeding carefully and with small steps. If Trevor Noah actually had to explain the nuances of a particular controversy, The Daily Show would sound like an academic conference.

Our political discourse consists of nothing more than naked statements. Houses on sand.

There will be no unity or understanding until we admit that our own political positions are contingent, debatable, and most definitely not self-evident. These examples illustrate my point.

  • Why does a baby outside the womb have a different legal status than a baby in the womb?
  • The government regulates your body all of the time. Why is abortion different?
  • Why does the USA have a responsibility to accept refugees?
  • Why is it legal for the government to take my money and to give it to someone else?
  • How can you prove that religion is a “private matter”?
  • Why must the childless fund public schools?
  • Why should the privileged care about the rest of us?
  • Why should I give any weight to what the “founding fathers” have to say about a particular issue?

Our answers to questions like these would reveal foundations and core beliefs.

I believe that (1) God created the universe and (2) that He has a plan for my life. Those factual claims inform my outlook on every issue. Someone who believes that life has no purpose is just going to begin reasoning from a different zip code. The Christian and the atheist could both be rational and thoughtful, but they aren’t going to arrive at the same destination.

Your political sign or snarky meme is just not convincing to someone with different assumptions about what is good, true, beautiful, and holy. Your political point is not a self-evident truth.

 

 

Derek Carr on Trump and Christian submission

I was surprised and inspired by this tweet from Raiders QB Derek Carr.

Derek Carr professes to be a Christian, and I greatly respect this humble comment.

Submission is the theme of the Christian life. Christ submitted to torture and to death on a cross. We, though rebellious to the end, submit to the light yoke of his rule. Through Christ, we will conquer death and enjoy his kingdom forever.

Though our primary citizenship is in Christ, Christians are not anarchists. Because of the fall, governing authorities are necessary to carry out justice and to maintain order. Scripture instructs Christians to submit to governing authorities. See Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13-17.

Article 36 of The Belgic Confession is helpful here.

We believe that
because of the depravity of the human race,
our good God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers.
God wants the world to be governed by laws and policies
so that human lawlessness may be restrained
and that everything may be conducted in good order
among human beings.

For that purpose God has placed the sword
in the hands of the government,
to punish evil people
and protect the good.

The Belgic Confession Article 36: The Civil Government

Through submission to Christ and to governing authorities, Christians demonstrate our faith. By enduring trials and tribulations in this life, we proclaim the truth of the life to come.

I have never voted for either Barack Obama or Donald Trump. I have strong policy disagreements with each of them. Though it should be obvious to anyone who reads what I have to say here, I’ll say it again. I’m disgusted by President-Elect Trump’s personal excesses and vices.

Nevertheless, I am praying for both men tonight. I wish the Obamas well, and I hope that God blesses them. My prayer for President-Elect Trump is that God would grant him wisdom and discernment throughout his term.

We all should be good citizens. Thanks, Derek Carr, for the reminder.

 

Partisanship makes you dumb (Vol. 1)

This is the first installment of a fun new series on the blog. The series will consist of me pointing out illustrative examples of the partisanship makes you dumb axiom.

Partisanship brings out the dumb in the best of us, so please don’t be offended by the partisanship makes you dumb series. This will be a helpful, insightful, and bipartisan exercise.

“Dumb” is a colloquial term, so allow me to explain what I mean. By “dumb,” I mean the capacity to make and celebrate gross errors in reasoning.

For example, let’s say that Professor Wayne Fontes is standing in his kitchen looking outside through a window. Professor Fontes observes that it is raining. A smart response to this observation would be to grab a jacket before leaving home. Instead, Professor Fontes, prompted by his observation, calls his mom to tell her that Aaron Rodgers has a stupid smile. Professor Fontes has made a gross error and will likely get wet.

That is a silly example, but we make gross errors in reasoning all the time in the name of partisanship. Partisanship affects our ability to reason well. I wrote about that problem here.

I think that you get the point, so let’s turn now to the first entry in the partisanship makes you dumb series.


Partisanship makes you dumb (Vol. 1)

Check out this excellent partisan tweet from Rep. Keith Ellison.

rep-keith-ellison

This is peak Make-Me-DNC-Chair-Because-I’m-Snarky tweet style from Ellison.

Sitting at his computer, Ellison notices an article about cancer death rates. Instead of extending praise and thanks to researchers or the American Cancer Society, Ellison’s immediate reaction is to use this article to partisan advantage by implying that the Republican push to repeal the Affordable Care Act will lead to higher cancer death rates.

So good. So dumb.

If you actually read the article or the original press release, you’ll notice that the American Cancer Society tracked cancer death rates between 1991(!) and 2014, noting a 25% decline over that time span. The very first paragraph of the article lists a couple of contributing factors.

 Cancer death rates in the United States have declined steadily over the years, thanks to improved screening guidelines and falling smoking rates, among other factors, according to a report released Thursday by the American Cancer Society.

To recap: Rep. Ellison takes an article about a 25% drop in the cancer death rate between the years 1991 and 2014 and uses it to imply that the Republican effort to repeal the ACA will somehow reverse this progress. The evidence does not support that conclusion. Partisanship makes you dumb.

What happened in Grand Rapids?

From the beginning of the primary season, I underestimated Donald J. Trump. Even as Tuesday became Wednesday, I thought Trump might still lose the election. I stayed up for the Milwaukee and Detroit returns because I thought those cities would flip their respective states. It didn’t happen.

The post-election reflections are plentiful, and I don’t have a “hot take.” The Barack Obama coalition apparently failed to turnout with the same enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. That’s about it.

Nevertheless, I am interested in what is going on in my city. Grand Rapids is a diverse urban center, but it is still part of “West Michigan” and all of its cultural idiosyncrasies. I had a general sense that Trump was never going to play well here. Indeed, even in the primaries, the Dutch largely resisted Trump.

The election returns tell the story.

 In 2012, President Obama received 21,967 more votes in Grand Rapids than Mitt Romney. Romney won 12 out of the city’s 77 precincts.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton received 27,301 more votes in Grand Rapids than Donald J. Trump. Trump won only 6 out of the city’s 77 precincts.

Trump performed significantly worse than U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R), who had only nominal opposition this cycle. In total, 33,746 city residents voted for Amash. Only 25,151 city residents voted for Trump.

Douglas Smith (D) received 12,850 more votes in Grand Rapids than Amash. Amash won 20 out of the city’s 77 precincts.

This pattern holds if you zoom out to Kent County.

In 2012, Mitt Romney received 155,925 votes in Kent County.

In 2016, Trump received 148,160 votes in Kent County. Meanwhile, 174,222 Kent County residents voted for their Republican U.S. Rep. (Amash or Huizenga).

Trump’s countywide margin of approximately 10,000 votes is less than half of Mitt Romney’s 22,000 vote margin.

Keep in mind that Romney lost Michigan by some 450,000 votes and Trump won Michigan by a narrow 10,000+ margin. Trump also made a late night stop in Grand Rapids on the eve of the election.

What happened in Grand Rapids?

This is a stark result, and it reinforces the perception that the West Michigan or Grand Rapids Republican is just different. There must be something in the water (besides fluoride) or in the CRC.

 

It’s almost over.

Could Trump win Michigan? Could Trump win the presidency?

The answer to both questions could be yes. A month ago, I thought that there was basically no chance that Trump could win Michigan. Now, I’m not so sure. The Clinton-Weiner scandal and Trump’s relative message discipline, have caused the race to tighten. The parade of visits to the state by VIPs of both campaigns would indicate that Michigan is much more than an afterthought. Apparently, both Trump and Clinton will be in Michigan on Monday.

Michigan’s perceived competitiveness undercuts the main premise of my earlier argument. If Clinton had a 99% chance of winning Michigan, then there was no reason for conscientious voters to enter the lesser of two evils quagmire. Now that the race is much less certain, does my message change?

No.

We have heard all of the arguments for supporting Trump over Clinton or Clinton over Trump. I completely understand “voting against” either of these candidates. Sadly, if you don’t vote third party, a vote against one dreadful candidate is still a vote for a dreadful candidate.

What is most troubling to me is that there are people who enthusiastically support either of these awful people. If you’re excited to vote for Trump or Clinton on Tuesday, then you’re not thinking carefully enough. The warts and flaws of both candidates should be obvious enough to even the most committed partisans. Given the weaknesses of both candidates, this is probably the least important presidential election of our lifetimes.

While I did consider supporting Gov. Johnson, I can’t bring myself to vote for a pro-choice candidate. Gov. Johnson has not done enough to overcome my disagreement with him on this essential issue. More generally, the Johnson-Weld ticket has fumbled an historic opportunity to put up some points for the Libertarian Party.

On Tuesday, I’m still voting my conscience. I plan to write in Evan McMullin for president. I fully support Evan’s mission to deny Clinton and Trump the necessary 270 electoral votes. I will be voting for Republicans down ballot because I still consider myself a Republican, but I am anxious about the direction of my party.

Thankfully, the 2016 election season is almost over. I’m preparing for President Clinton and divided government in D.C., which is to say more of the same. Politicians will not save us, so let’s get on with it.