Theoretically, you’re right: being a Lutheran doesn’t mean that you “have to vote Republican.” In actual practice, though, here and now, it kind of…means that you have to vote Republican. This is unfortunate, as the Republicans are a rather seedy bunch.
I’m a single-issue voter, which is not at all what I’d prefer. Maybe if murdering children becomes illegal, I’ll be able to be more nuanced and eclectic in considering how to cast my vote. But if the agents of government have actively arrayed themselves against the most basic purpose of civil government, i.e., to restrain sinners from murdering one another (cf. the mark of Cain), then I’m not going to put myself out too much seeing what else they “get right.” And as you have no doubt noticed, they have done exactly that. It’s pathetic, but, yes, in the upcoming presidential election, I will hold my nose and vote for the baboon who opposes abortion, whether out of common sense, basic decency, or mere political savvy. (Honestly, it’s more than likely that its a combination of all three. The heart of man is desperately wicked; that indicts your favorite candidate’s opportunism, too.) The point is, when it’s the stupid party versus the evil party, I’m with the stupid party every time. (None of this matters, though: Hillary Clinton is going to be our next president.)
For the record, if I had to pick an “-ist” to describe my political idealism, it’d be “monarchist”— it’s taken me awhile to come around to this position, and I’m not going to get sidetracked on that topic right at this moment. (Interested in the sidetrack? Here it is.) But none of us have our druthers, so we’d best speak about real circumstances: since I am a citizen of an ostensibly federal republic which is slowly morphing into an ever more plebiscitary democracy, I consider it my duty to vote for the lesser of two evils— or, in a non-binary election, the least of however many evils are on the pitch. I used to be one of those people who raised a hue and cry about “not being for either party,” as though that was somehow original, following this up with the ingenious observation that “the lesser of two evils is still evil.” Then I realized that this was a nonsensical, highly idealistic position in light of the fact that A.) this is a fallen world, B.) it has ever been thus, and C.) it will ever be thus, until Christ rolls up history like a scroll and raises the dead. Trust not in princes, senators from Kentucky, or former first ladies.
All politicking aside, though, if you press me, I have a hard time thinking that the United States of America is not a failed experiment. (Interestingly enough, every signer of the Constitution believed that the republic had already failed by the time of his death. If I’m remembering correctly the citation for this is in Forrest McDonald’s book Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution, but I can’t track it down at the moment.) This no more demonstrates a lack of patriotism on my part than my observation that my grandfather is dead demonstrates a lack of love for him. “Liberty” is a thing of the past, and we Lutherans, we Christians, need to stop stomping around in a high dudgeon like it’s just a matter of time before we get it back, crashing on the barricade thinking that we’re going to “reclaim America for Christ” for the next generation, etc. We’re not. Leave that to the fundagelicals. Instead, we need to devote our precious little time and strength to learning how to live in a society that is now opposed to us. Men, protect your families. Pastors, protect your flocks. He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. Hold fast to Christ in the mysteries of the Church. Confess the faith. Darkening days are coming.
PS. This quote is too good not to share:
“The Lutheran Churches are sunning themselves right now under the illusion that they have something other to expect from the world than the dear holy cross, which all those have to bear who proclaim to mankind the Law of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But this illusion will soon be over. Our American brothers in the faith will also learn this in the setting of painful experience. Instead of establishing a church office in Washington, they would have done better to establish a place somewhere in the loneliness of their vast land, where prayer is offered day and night for their public authorities and for the peace of the world.” (Hermann Sasse, “Ecclesia Orans,” April 1949; In Statu Confessionis II:57)