I voted in my first Presidential election in 1972. I have voted in every Presidential election since. My first two votes could very well have cured me of the habit. But by the time I got to the election of 1980 what I had gotten cured of was my naiveté, any lingering messianic expectations when I entered the polling booth. The elections of 1972 and 1976, and their aftermaths, helped me to see that no matter who I voted for, who actually got elected, and what happened next, that while “Some trust in chariots, others in horses,” that I should “trust the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). This is not to say that we shouldn’t vote, and vote wisely, even hopefully. But it is to say that even as we do, we should never confuse what we are doing with what God is doing, or think that when we mess things up that we’re forever doomed. As the Reformer Martin Luther liked to say: “God can carve the rotten wood and ride the lame horse.” And so, even as we vote every four years for our favorite horse and chariot, we should never lose sight of who really deserves, even demands our trust.
This is why every day-after-election now for thirty years I have dug out this old quote from the radical priest Daniel Berrigan and kept it close by for a day or two. It has consoled me when my candidate has lost the chariot race, and even more so when my candidate has won.
I can only tell you what I believe.
I believe I cannot be saved by foreign policies.
I believe I cannot be saved by sexual revolutions.
I cannot be saved by the gross national product.
I cannot be saved by nuclear deterrents.
I cannot be saved by aldermen, priests, artists,
plumbers, city planners, social engineers,
Nor by the Vatican,
Nor by the World Buddhist Association,
Nor by Hitler,
Nor by Joan of Arc,
Nor by angels and archangels,
Nor by powers and dominations.
I can only be saved by Jesus Christ.
Now that the election is over, our obligation, regardless of who you voted for, is to pray for those who are in authority over us. Our willingness or reluctance to do this, it seems to me, is the clearest evidence there is of whether we have put our trust in horses and chariots, or in the Lord. DBS+