Why be a single-issue voter in presidential politics?

I have said many times that I am a single-issue voter. I do not believe that being right on any single issue qualifies a candidate for office. But I do believe that being wrong on certain issues can disqualify a candidate. My thinking on this was shaped nearly 20 years ago by an article I read from John Piper. I recommend that you read the whole thing, but here is the heart of it. Piper writes:

No endorsement of any single issue qualifies a person to hold public office. Being pro-life does not make a person a good governor, mayor, or president. But there are numerous single issues that disqualify a person from public office. For example, any candidate who endorsed bribery as a form of government efficiency would be disqualified, no matter what his party or platform was. Or a person who endorsed corporate fraud (say under $50 million) would be disqualified no matter what else he endorsed. Or a person who said that no black people could hold office—on that single issue alone he would be unfit for office. Or a person who said that rape is only a misdemeanor—that single issue would end his political career. These examples could go on and on. Everybody knows a single issue that for them would disqualify a candidate for office.

It’s the same with marriage. No one quality makes a good wife or husband, but some qualities would make a person unacceptable. For example, back when I was thinking about getting married, not liking cats would not have disqualified a woman as my wife, but not liking people would. Drinking coffee would not, but drinking whiskey would. Kissing dogs wouldn’t, but kissing the mailman would. And so on. Being a single-issue fiancé does not mean that only one issue matters. It means that some issues may matter enough to break off the relationship.

So it is with politics. You have to decide what those issues are for you. What do you think disqualifies a person from holding public office? I believe that the endorsement of the right to kill unborn children disqualifies a person from any position of public office. It’s simply the same as saying that the endorsement of racism, fraud, or bribery would disqualify him—except that child-killing is more serious than those.

Over the years, I have found Piper’s argument so compelling that it has guided my thinking on the issue ever since. If a candidate supports abortion rights, then he is disqualified from my vote as long as there are other alternatives in the field. It may be that there are no alternatives or that the alternatives have other disqualifying characteristics (like racism, fraud, or bribery). For me, support for abortion-on-demand is one of those deal-killers.

The current law of our land excludes from the human community a whole class of human beings — the unborn. Under the regime of Roe v. Wade, it is legal in our country to kill unborn human beings at any stage of development from zero to nine months gestation — for any reason. Our nation’s laws do not recognize an intrinsic right to life for the unborn. In some cases, animals have more protection under the law than do unborn people.

The Roe v. Wade decision has presided over the deaths of more than 57 million innocent human babies since 1973, and it stands as the singular legal obstacle to passing laws restricting abortion in our country. The only way for the unborn to be protected in law is for Roe to be overturned. It will take a five-person majority on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. Absent such a majority, it will continue to be legal for unborn babies to be killed.

As of now, it appears there is a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court in favor of Roe. The candidate who wins the presidency will appoint justices who will either bolster the current majority in favor of Roe or will make a new majority against Roe.

There is no question that abortion-on-demand is the greatest human rights crisis of our time in our country. That is why we have to have the singular focus of ending that immoral regime. For me, this issue transcends every other contentious issue in public life. And it’s why I believe Christians should be single-issue voters when it comes to the sanctity of human life.

4 Responses to Why be a single-issue voter in presidential politics?

  1. Andrew Huggins February 10, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    In 1996, I was preparing to graduate high school and begin college that fall – and turning 18 that January, I was preparing to vote for the first time. I remember vividly the ruminations of the dawn of my political engagement and not being able to escape the idea that I could choose to either endorse someone who affirms abortion, or one who opposes it. This one issue has driven every vote I have cast in the last 20 years, and it always will. I’ve told this story many times and use the conviction for Life of the unborn to be a fulcrum on which my decisions rest. Likewise, I also am anti-death penalty; but like Piper says in regard to disqualification, the murder rate of babies far exceeds that of people on death row. Unfortunately it’s all inside out and upside down when it comes to party platforms, but in this case, the death penalty stance is outweighed by the innocent baby murder stance. My prayers continue for the value and affirmation of all life in our country – as ideological and fanatical as that may sound in this day and age. This was encouraging, thanks for sharing, Denny.

  2. Ian Shaw February 12, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    As a Scot, I feel like I must clarify. “Whiskey” is what it’s called if it’s made outside Scotland. If it’s made in Scotland, it’s called “whisky”.


  1. Why be a single-issue voter in presidential politics? | Prisoner of Christ - February 10, 2016

    […] Source: Why be a single-issue voter in presidential politics? | Denny Burk […]

  2. The Danger of Abortion as a Wedge Issue (Carl Trueman) – Kirk Miller Blog - February 13, 2016

    […] we mean that stances of certain issues necessarily disqualify a candidate from one’s vote (see someone like Denny Burk), not that only one issue should concern our vote (Trueman is obviously opposing […]

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