I’m voting for… Pt. 4 (The Finale)

I woke up this Monday, drove over to the early voting polling location at the Buckhead Library and voted in the 2016 Presidential Election. A couple of thoughts about the experience:

  • Monday was the first day of early voting here in GA and I was surprised at the number of people coming in to vote first thing on the first day.
  • While I was in the room there were at least 40-50 people that voted.
  • From what I could tell there were a variety of ages, but being Buckhead, very little racial diversity.
  • They had trouble finding me eligible to vote at first. Took around 25-30 minutes to get sorted out, despite having my registration card and ID with my current address that matched the voter registration card.
  • Two different computers gave two different responses when queried about my eligibility.
  • Again, it was sorted and I voted.
  • The local CBS affiliate came in to ask if they could film inside the polling place, were denied. So many factors at play all at the same time. Poll workers have a tough job, local media people have a tough job and the rest of us just want to punch the buttons and get to work.

The Decision

After much thought and research I decided to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine for President and Vice President of the United States of America.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I’m going to share some of my thought process behind my selection.

Shock and Awe

I’m sure there are a lot of folks that are going to be really surprised and some will probably be disappointed that I chose to use my vote for Hillary Clinton. It can be pretty shocking in the religious world in the southern United States to learn someone you know actually voted for a Democrat.

I hope we can remain friends. I also hope the items below can provide a bit more insight into my decision.

Politics and Predictability

There is something to be said for predictability in politics. When it comes to being the United States, what we do matters to the rest of the world. When the President of the United States speaks others listen and react. Words matter. They do. They always have, and they always will.

I posed on Facebook that having Hillary in the White House will mark a return to the ruthless/power focused politics of Richard Nixon. That’s her style, that was his style. We haven’t had a president that cared more about ruling than being liked in 40 years. Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama at their core wanted to be liked/remembered fondly and would adjust their politics accordingly. However, you always knew what you were getting with each of those gentlemen.

Hillary will provide more of the same predictability. Donald Trump has shown he will not provide that predictability and that is troublesome for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is the stability of our relationship with allies and enemies alike. Regardless of whether you like Hillary’s style or not, she understands the power of words and understands that the President of the United States has a loud microphone.

Estate Tax

I can tell you that as someone that has worked in the wealth management profession for the last several years in various capacities there are very few people that ever have this issue. You probably won’t be one of them.

I don’t like the estate tax. I think there should be a tax on the gain in value of the assets as if you sold everything for cash. The gains alone should be taxed at the appropriate ordinary or capital gains rates and the rest should pass to your heirs with a step-up in basis.

I’ve seen lots of people angry that Hillary Clinton supports raising the estate tax. She’s not being elected Queen and you aren’t going to die with more than the excluded amount.

On the off chance that this might affect you, give me a call. I get paid to help people that are subject to this tax avoid as much of it as possible. I can probably help you, too.

Gay Marriage

Unless you are gay and want to get married you don’t have to participate in a gay marriage or a gay wedding. Just like I don’t go to Luke Bryan concerts because he sounds like Kermit the Frog, you can choose not to attend a gay wedding or even get married if you are gay. Okay, oversimplifying here, but the point should be well taken.

I can provide you all sorts of arguments about the 14th Amendment, the fact that the United States does not make laws through the lens of Christianity (or any other religion for that matter), the glaring fact that your marriage is in no way affected by the fact that anyone else gets married (or not), and even turning the tables and asking you why you aren’t this fired up about gluttony since it actually affects WAY WAY WAY more people than gay marriage ever will.

But, I won’t. This simply doesn’t move the needle as something we need to be concerned with. I’m happy for my friends and family that were finally allowed to get married last year. (Several of them complained about their new tax reality. Welcome to the club.)

I know this makes me a heretic to many of you and I’m okay with that.


This is SUCH a tough issue. It is actually something that is much more divisive nationally than gay marriage.



This is CRAZY! While 61% of the population believes that gay marriages should have all the same rights as straight marriages, only 50% of the population believes that abortion should be “legal only under limited circumstances.”

The nuance is important here. Most of the handwringing I see is about unfettered access to abortions anytime/anyplace. Only 29% of the population believes that should be the law of the land. Here’s where it gets interesting. Only 19% of the population of the United States believes that abortion should always be illegal.The number is so low that invariably the other 81% of people who agree abortion should be legal in at least some instances includes Republicans, Democrats, and Undecided voters.

That means people you go to church with, yes, your church, probably believe that abortion should be legal in some circumstances. And that also means that a great number of Democrats, Republicans, and Undecided voters also do not believe in unrestrained access to abortion.

I want to be pro-life and I want to be pro-choice. I want to be pro-life because I’ve been through adoption classes and have met mothers that made the difficult decision not to parent their child and after hearing their stories I understand why they made that choice. I want to be pro-choice because I know women that made the difficult decision to terminate their pregnancy and after hearing their stories I understand why they made that choice.

I voted for Hillary Clinton despite the fact that she has decided which side of the debate she falls on and I haven’t. This is a huge issue for me, but I don’t believe in being a single issue voter. The world and the country are bigger than this single issue and I have to vote that way.

Affordable Care Act

This law is flawed, it needs some serious help, but it needs to stay. I know, I know, I was a very vocal critic of ACA when it was passed, both for the way it was passed and because I felt (and have been vindicated) that it would eventually spiral out of control due to costs.

Stripping all that away, looking at it on its merits, we need to provide healthcare for our people. All of our people. We live in the wealthiest nation in the world per-capita. Some of that money needs to go to providing healthcare for everyone. I believe it is a moral imperative that we care for “the least of these” and healthcare is one major step toward that end.

In a little more than a week you will read lots of news articles about premiums going up 50%, 60% and probably somewhere will push over 80% in cost increase. That isn’t good and is part of the reason I didn’t like the ACA. What this bill did, however, was provide a starting place.

“What does it look like to provide healthcare for everyone?”

Now, we get to keep trying. We will never get it right, but more people have access than ever before and that makes me glad.

Wrapping Up

In summation, I didn’t vote for Hillary because she’s my favorite choice. I didn’t vote for her because I agree with her on everything. I didn’t vote for Hillary because I believe she will appoint the best Supreme Court justices.

I voted for Hillary Clinton because, when confronted with people that are different from her she chooses to be in community with them and do the hard work of figuring out how to make it work instead of building walls and passing laws to keep them out or marginalize them.

That is who I want to be as a person and who I want leading our country.


I’m voting for… Pt. 3

Early voting starts Monday here in Atlanta. I’m headed to the polls to cast my vote first thing! I’ll be sharing my decision with everyone next week. I did this on purpose so that I won’t have to deal with anyone trying to get me to change my mind. Okay…on to today’s topic!

Standby for Personal News

Many of you reading this don’t know much about my personal background because you know me only from social media or work settings where the personal background stuff doesn’t come up all that much. The two biggest shapers of my worldview are my parents who are both ordained ministers.

Yes, both of my parents are ordained Baptist ministers.

Yes, even my mom.

Yes, really.

Yes, even in a Baptist church.

Quick and dirty CV on both parents:

Dad: Undergrad – Belmont College – 1979 (now university); Master of Divinity – Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – 1983; Doctor of Ministry – Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary – 1987

Mom: Undergrad – Belmont College – 1979 (now university); Master of Divinity – Campbell University Divinity School – 1998; Doctor of Ministry – Campbell University Divinity School – 2009

Dad has been in full-time ministry for his entire career. Mom was a school teacher prior to going back to school in the mid 1990s after which she participated in full time ministry for more than a decade. Both have taught graduate level classes to seminary students.

If you haven’t spent much time in the southern United States you might think this has absolutely nothing to do with voting, but you would be wrong. I gave the dates and schools of my parents education on purpose because those dates say everything about why this post is part of my voting series.

You see my parents aren’t just Baptist ministers, they are Southern Baptist Ministers.

Southern Baptist History

As my dad was graduating from college and embarking on the career and educational aspirations that would lead him to seminary, the Fundamentalist Takeover or Conservative Resurgence, depending on which side you were on, was beginning in earnest. The premise was that the seminaries, charged with training ministers, as well as the denominational agencies were well on their way to being dominated by “liberals.”

One of the driving forces for this movement was a survey done by Noel Wesley Hollyfield, Jr. in 1976. Hollyfield was a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary working toward a master’s degree when he surveyed fellow classmates about their belief that “Jesus is the Divine Son of God and I have no doubts about it.”

The results showed that 87% of first year Master of Divinity students agreed, while 63% of final year students agreed. His results were redacted and distributed in 1981 as proof that reform is necessary. The problem is that if you are familiar with theological education at all, this should not be surprising.

For many students this is their first experience in exploring their faith academically and not emotionally. Lots and lots of students are confronted with the sausage making of theology, limitations of translations, and academic exegesis for the first time. Without fail several of them “lose faith” throughout their experience.

The premise of the takeover was simple: Elect a conservative to be President of the Southern Baptist Convention every year for 10 consecutive years.

Because of the way the SBC works, eventually all of the trustees of the schools run by the Southern Baptist Convention would be replaced by conservative leaders and the takeover would be complete.

Both schools that my Dad attended eventually were taken over, but not before he graduated. That’s why dates are so important. Southern Baptist theology nerds talk about the seminaries in terms of “before and after the takeover”. Dad graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary the same year that the board of trustees mandated only hiring faculty members that follow the Baptist Faith and Message. (I’m not getting into what that is because you have Google.)

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary would be finally taken over in 1993.

Faith and Politics Merge

Almost simultaneously Jerry Falwell was cranking up his Moral Majority group in 1979 and somewhere along the way the really old school Baptist tradition of keeping politics and religion separate got lost as the Fundamentalist Takeover and Moral Majority were ramping up through the 1980s.

That’s why its important that you know all of this about my parents. If you aren’t familiar with church politics, especially this particular period of church politics in the United States, it would behoove you to read up a bit. It will help give you context to why the Christian Right and Republican Party seem so intertwined.

My Dad’s graduate and doctoral education happened during this time. By the end of the takeover by the fundamentalists I was 13 and just starting to pay close attention to politics and piecing together how the Southern Baptist Convention and the GOP began to merge when I was in my first decade of life. By the time my mom went to graduate school the culture wars had begun in earnest.

This is the reality of what happened when I was a kid and teenager. It has certainly colored my opinions about politics and its important that you know that.

The Preacher’s Son is not the Preacher

As you have seen, the church world is a weird amalgamation of spiritual, academic, personal, and public thoughts and beliefs. I want to make this very, very clear: I am 35 years old. I haven’t lived at home full-time with my parents since we pulled out of the driveway to go to college on August 8, 1999.

I have no idea how my parents vote. I asked my dad in 1992 who he was voting for and he told me that was private information that he wasn’t going to share with me. Ditto for mom. I haven’t asked since and they haven’t offered. I say this because it is important for everyone to know that I am not my parents and my parent’s aren’t me. This can get cloudy in church world and I wanted to set the record straight.

It is also important that people understand that I am my own person and that while my parents raised me and taught me how to approach life, they always let me figure things out for myself and never told me what I had to think or believe. I am forever in debt to my parents for not forcing their religion or their beliefs on me.

If you read nothing else read this: In no way should my thoughts or opinions be construed as being passed down from my parents. Period. My parents taught me HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

What do I Believe?

I am a Christian. The Apostle’s Creed serves as my statement of belief:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into Hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into Heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

I want to make it very clear that I have never known what my parents political beliefs are, I will likely never know what those beliefs are, and my political beliefs and writings should not be interpreted as speaking for my parents.

(Although it would be nice for them to write down who they voted for in 1992 on a scrap of paper for me to read when they are gone.)

I’m voting for… Pt. 2

Why I’m Voting in the Presidential Election this Year and Forever

After much mulling and thinking, I have decided that Brian is 100% correct. I should vote and the reason I should vote has nothing to do with who wins or loses or whether or not my vote really counts, but with my right to discuss policy issues of that election for the next 4 years.

Politics is unlike almost everything else with respect to participation. We can argue about sportsball all day long without actively participating because we have no ability to actually do anything about it. Not so with politics. We have the ability to cast a single vote and that should be the price for admission to the discussion.

Would you refuse the chance to give your .02 to your favorite sportsball team’s management or ownership group, even if you knew your opinion wouldn’t be given much weight? I doubt it. This is your chance to give your opinion officially; where it matters.

12 years ago, even 8 years ago this wouldn’t have been an issue. Very likely few people knew where you stood minute to minute on politics. Your opinions about politics were only heard by those you interacted with in person on a regular basis. Politics was a verboten topic in polite conversation and so was reserved for those you were closer with.

Your opinion didn’t count for much, but its reach also didn’t count for much either. It was a wash.

Now, a cross-section of our nation participates in social media channels (mostly Facebook, to a lesser extent Twitter) and your page reads like a gossip magazine. People you don’t know well read all sorts of things about your life:

Did you see what Charlie had for lunch today?
Where is Charlie going on vacation?
Charlie got a new car!
Charlie really doesn’t like how his sportsball team is doing.
Charlie is now in LOVE with his sportsball team.
Nope, back to hating his sportsball team.
Charlie thinks _______ about the President.

And there it is. When someone you don’t know well offers up an opinion you want to know they have some skin in the game. This is why we like hearing from former athletes about our sportsball teams, we look up speakers’ CVs at events, and why we ask people how long they have been in a certain industry. We want to know they have paid their dues.

So, with all that information about you readily accessible to people that you don’t have interaction with in real life, the game has changed. Instead of giving your opinion to a few close friends that probably agree with you, tens or hundreds of acquaintances are reading what you think about everything. You need some skin in the game. It’s time to pay your dues. Vote.

Brian…you were right. If I don’t vote, I lose my right to have an opinion. (Also, don’t let this go to your head.)


I’m Voting For…

Let’s talk about voting. I haven’t voted in a presidential election since 2000. Sure, I’ve gone to the polls and gotten a sticker, but never pulled the lever for a presidential candidate since the first election I was ever eligible to vote in. In the only presidential election I’ve voted in, I voted for Bush over Gore at Mars Hill Elementary School in Madison County, NC on November 7, 2000.

It wasn’t long after this that I took my first economics class. Somewhere along the way I read that some economists don’t vote because it doesn’t really count. I’m not sure if everyone goes through a phase of being an amateur economist or if it was just me, but from that point forward I haven’t voted in a presidential election because my vote really wouldn’t have mattered as I live in Georgia a consistently red state since 1996.

Georgia voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and then went on to vote for: Dole, Bush, Bush, McCain, and Romney. Even the historically high turnout of African Americans in 2008 and 2012 didn’t flip the state.

2004 – I would have voted for Bush in Georgia. He won 58% of the vote here that year.

2008 – I would have voted for McCain in Georgia. He won 52.2% of the vote here that year.

2012 – I would have voted for Romney in Georgia. He won 53.3% of the vote here that year.

I tweeted about this:

My Twitter friend Brian Jordan challenged me on this stance:

I’ll spare you the back and forth. Here’s the important tweet:

I respect Brian quite a bit, so I decided that I would do a bit of research and see if I should get back into the voting booth in a presidential election. And is Brian right? Do I lose the right to discuss policy issues if I don’t vote?

Over the next few days/weeks I’m going to unpack not only the answers to these questions, but also some additional personal background on me. Should be fun.