The 2016 US election has been one of the most bizarre and enthralling contests in recent history. Never before has the American electorate been polarised quite in this way.
The two main candidates are completely different in their policies, style and history—yet both share crippling flaws that turn off potential voters.
From the beginning of the year through the Republican and Democratic primaries, the race has been whittled down to two candidates: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Trump's remarkable ascent has come off the back of a campaign that contrasts himself with a political establishment that is shiftless, corrupt and more interested in personal gain than the welfare of the American people.
The billionaire businessman's rhetoric of putting America first harks back to a time of American isolation and protectionism—where American industry drove the nation's incredible economic advances in the early 20th century.
For many Americans, this is music to the ears. Many have seen their formerly prosperous industrial and manufacturing jobs decimated by companies moving their business offshore.
While Trump has attracted fervent support from a large section of America, he has probably alienated an even larger portion. His often bizarre tangents, offensive comments and propensity to exaggerate have convinced many that he does not have the character or temperament to be President of the United States.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is the very definition of an establishment politician. Having been involved in American politics for nearly 40 years, what Clinton lacks in charisma she makes up for in experience. Her policies are seen by many as retaining the status quo—effectively continuing the agenda of the Obama White House.
Compared to the bombastic and erratic Trump, Clinton is seen by many as the only viable candidate for the election. However, it seems that there may be up to 33,000 skeletons in Hillary's closet. At the time of writing (November 3), a veritable avalanche of leaked documents have been casting some very dark shadows over Clinton's campaign.
Even if she does get elected, there is a very real possibility that she may be indicted and face criminal charges proceeding from the FBI's current investigations.
To vote or not to vote
For many Americans, the prospect of voting in either candidate is a demoralising experience. Rather than give a mandate to either candidate, they would rather exercise their right not to vote on the principle that neither candidate deserves it.
There is something to be said, however, for the privilege of voting. Throughout most of human history, the vast majority of people have been ruled by governments whom they have had choice in electing over them.
As Christians throughout time can testify to, the actions of governments can have a major impact on the way we live our lives. Hillary Clinton has campaigned to a large degree on her efforts to support the marginalised in American society and improve the lot of women and children.
Donald Trump has campaigned to further pro-life legislation and to end such practices as late-term term abortion. These issues, however you weigh them up against each other theologically, touch on important themes to Christians.
By ignoring policy and focussing on personality, we can lose focus on the decisions that affect us most deeply. As with any other aspect of creation touched by the fall, politicians and the governments they administer are flawed.
Though these institutions are fallible, they have also been set in place by God to administer justice and law.
It's not the end of the world
For others though, the election of the candidate they oppose may seem like the end of the world. If Clinton/Trump wins, it will be the end of their party, the end of America, or the beginning of World War Three.
While technically these outcomes are not impossible, it can create a distorted picture of one side being wholly righteous and the other side wholly depraved (or deplorable).
By elevating one side and burying the other we blind ourselves to the reality of the situation. No matter how right you think your side is they are still susceptible to all the same flaws that dog the other side. And the other side is not so irredeemable as to be unable to act in the best interests of their country.
While it is important for Christians to be involved in the process of electing governments wherever we are in the world, it is important to remember there is no one policy, leader, or government, that is going to write the wrongs of the world.
As long as this world exists, we will have to deal with flawed solutions to problems that can never fully be solved. Our hope is ultimately not in this world, and what it can give to us now, but in a future kingdom ruled by one who really does have all the answers to the world's problems.
In the person of Jesus Christ, we can look forward to a kingdom where the ultimate problems of sin, death, and suffering are forever put to an end. While Trump or Clinton might be able to make good on some of the promises they've made to the American people—nothing they do can ever top what Jesus has done.
Tim Newman works as a reporter in Invercargill, New Zealand. He holds an MA in History (focussing on attitudes towards warfare in Islam and Christianity).
Tim Newman's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-newman.html