Just a couple more election related thoughts. As A Frank Angle points out in his comment on yesterday’s post- not all Christians vote. Some make a religious argument for not voting. They may believe that as Christians they should not participate in a secular system.
I think we are called to participate, because I think need to work for the common good. Voting in elections was not a practice in the ancient world. But Torah and Jesus were clear about our responsibility toward each other. Torah is very concerned with how we live together in community. In our times, much of how we live together is determined by what local, state and national governing bodies do. So voting people into elected office matters. Our vote is one way to shape how we live together as a society.
My prefered candidates today, did not do well. That’s often the case for me. I appear to have a knack for picking losers. This mean routinely after the primary, “my” candidate is not on the ballot. But I still go ahead and vote in the general election. I cast the best vote I can- given my choices on the ballot.
If my vote is all about me, and what makes me happy, then I might not bother to vote in the general election since my prefered candidate isn’t one of the choices – I don’t like either one, so I’ll stay home. But, as we saw in the last general election, making the choice not to vote has consequences. Someone is going to win the election, and elections sometimes are exercises in voting for the least bad person. But if I can’t vote for the person I think will make things better, I can at least try to stop things from being worse. Because as I wrote yesterday, I try to not cast my vote in a self serving manor. I try to vote for what is in the best interests of the poor and marginalized – as best as I understand that.
To decide not to vote because my prefered candidate isn’t on the ballot is, frankly, selfish and an act of privilege. I can afford to not vote because my social, economic and political status are fairly secure. I won’t be grievously affected no matter who wins. As a Christian I have to remember that other people live much more at the mercy of political trends and actions. Their access to medical care, or food support, good public education or jobs that pay a living wage may very much depend on who is elected. I need to vote for their well being. Their well being overrides my annoyance at voting for a less than perfect candidate.
One vote doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Can my one vote matter? Elections are hardly ever won by one vote. But Jesus reminds us that what we do matters. Even fairly small actions, giving someone a cup of water, matters.
So my prefered candidates didn’t win today. But I will still be voting in November, because I have a responsibility to my fellow citizens to participate and to help move our society toward becoming a more just, a more equitable, a more humane place.