“Who can endure a doctrine which would allow only dentists to say whether our teeth were aching, only cobblers to say whether our shoes hurt us, and only governments to tell us whether we were being well governed?”
I repost these with his permission (I think). All words are his [with some commentary by me, JP].
- “He (or she) is an idiot” – Politics easily devolve to an ugly game of character defamation which often have little to do with the real issues. Getting lured into the bickering not only distracts us from the real issues, but encourages the campaign and rhetorical negativity, that we pretend to detest. If you are falling for the name-calling, bashing, and drama, you are the reason for the wretched campaigns on display in America.
- “It’s my Civic Duty” – Perhaps the most commonly accepted, yet blatantly illogical idea in America is that two people can vote for opposing candidates (or issues), precisely canceling each other out, and both make a net positive civic contribution. When it comes to voting, Americans tend to mistake a right for duty. When we pretend that a right is a duty, we distort and dilute the privilege of that right. Failing to grasp the difference between a right and a duty undermines the value of our rights. [JP adds: I tend to think of it as your responsibility, given as a right or privilege. Duty in our day implies drudgery and doing the bare minimum and nothing more.]
- “Democracy depends on it” – Democracy relies on statistically accurate sampling, equal representation, and informed voters. In any federal election, even 0.1% voter turnout (real turnout is vastly higher) is more than enough for statistical accuracy. Thanks to numerous suffrage movements, most people have at least some representation. Poorly informed voters reduce the collective intelligence of the vote. However, you can contribute to democracy if you are representing an under-represented people (like minorities), or happen to be an unusually well-informed voter. (Kris wrote a post on this a few years back.)
- “It’s Christians’ duty to vote, to preserve a Christian nation” – The Bible says nothing remotely close to this. Governments, by their nature, are founded on coercion and power, precisely the opposite of the way of cross, servanthood, and humility. The Kingdom of God does not rest on a political nation. [JP adds: while I believe some of the founding fathers were committed Christians, and most believed in a personal Creator, there is not a Gospel-centric orientation to the founding documents. Religion shaped their their vision of the New World, yet I surmise it was less about establishing a “Christian” nation and more about leaving behind the quasi-“Christian” nation they fled. Was the United States ever a Christian Nation? That is a question worth thinking deeply about some more.]
- “Fear” – Fear tends to drive us to being irrational. There may be some people in history that truly faced dangerous circumstances if someone was elected. Unfortunately, exaggerating our circumstances to pretend that we are facing something similar to the holocaust or other large scale tragedies only makes a mockery of those who truly facing a desperate plight. The only people that come close to a real reason to fear the outcome of the results of a modern election in the US aren’t citizens, so they don’t have a vote anyway. [JP adds: anger is misplaced insecurity acted out on others. Do your fears drive you to trust God, or hate others?]
- “I am better (or worse) off than 4 years ago” – Economics is a complex field with hundreds of indicators, and countless influences. The government’s influence is just one, and is furthermore defined by a myriad of politicians, compromising, and crafting numerous policies. Making an evaluation based on a single sampling falls far short of any real economic analysis. [JP adds: what passes for “values voting” these days is often people voting with their wallets first. That’s their value: themselves. That’s an incomplete reason. If you have plenty but vote just to raise or keep your standard of living — but not raise your standard of giving — you may want to check yourself before you wreck yourself [selfish-foolish-greed].]
- “If you don’t vote, you don’t have any right to complain” – Nope. This is completely backwards, let’s get it straight: If anyone has earned a right to anything, it is those that stand up for justice the other 364 days that truly have a compelling claim on the right to vote on election day. [JP adds: voting is a vital part of democracy, in concert with the other strands we pursue every other day.]
- When injustice is taking place, when people are being exploited or unfairly disadvantaged, when their rights are being deprived, without power of recourse, we should stand up for them. If voting can be effectively used as one of the tools to stop injustice, to give voice to the disenfranchised and oppressed, voting can then be virtuous and noble use of this important and valuable right.
Well said, Kris. Still chewing on it. Need to finish my ballot.