There’s too much at stake to not let your voice be heard, so vote, Jerkface!
Every year there are millions of people who don’t vote in elections in the United States. And every year, I wonder who these dimwits are that choose to throw away the right and privilege given to them by virtue of their citizenship in this country. The good folks at FiveThirtyEight have some good insights into the kinds of people who don’t vote, or who rarely vote. Their reasons range from the difficulties put in place for voters in much of the country (voter ID laws, long waits at overcrowded and understaffed polling places, the lack of time given off from work for the purpose of voting, and downright voter intimidation in some parts), to the regular old feeling that “my vote won’t matter anyway.” There are also some folks I know who choose to stay out of the fray of politics because of their Christian faith (the “I am not a citizen of this nation, but of the kingdom of God” crowd), or because they don’t believe that either of the two major parties represent their views fully.
Let me answer the second objection first: You will never find a political party that totally, 100% represents your views on everything. If such parties existed, their would be like 150 million political parties in this country–roughly the same number as voters in a typical general election. Also, you don’t have to limit yourself to the top two political parties. If we were in Europe–first of all, we’d be 50 different countries, rather than one giant one–but second of all, we’d have not two major parties and a few minor “third” parties, but a handful of parties ranging across the political spectrum. The Republican party would be at least three parties–a far-right nationalist party, a libertarian/freedom for all party, and a center-right party. The Democratic party would be split into a Leftist/Socialist party, a democratic-socialist party, and a center-left (at least). So, one thing that might boost voter turnout and general morale amongst the electorate would be a broadening of the political parties, and less poo-pooing of people who vote outside of the Democratic-Republican false dichotomy on offer today.
To the first objection, let me say this: You are a grandstanding blowhard who needs to face reality. O.k., maybe that was a bit harsh, but if you believe that you are somehow “above” the political process of this world because of your allegiance to Our Lord, then you have some major privilege that needs to be checked like a vicuna coat at the entrance of a 1920’s speakeasy. That was and…oddly specific way of putting it, but let me put it in simpler terms–if you think you can sit out this election (or any other) because you belong to Jesus, then you clearly have never been at the mercy of the government for your survival in this world. And, I might add, you might have a flawed understanding of the theological underpinning of the faith. I don’t want to get into a pissing match with the Hauerwasians on this one, so let me just say that I don’t think Jesus would much approve of Christians sitting by the sidelines while the rest of the world decides what happens to the most vulnerable people in our society. A vote is one way of making your voice heard, and if that voice is informed by your faith, so much the better. But you don’t get the right to complain about how things are going if you don’t take the time to vote, and if you don’t vote because you believe to do so would sully your good name with the Lord, then please keep your mouth shut on how things ought to go around these parts. After all, if your kingdom is not of this world, then don’t try to tell those of us who live here how we should live our lives.
Furthermore, to ask “Who would Jesus vote for?” and then answer that question with “No one” is indicative of two things: 1. You don’t understand that Jesus’ ministry took place during a time when NO ONE had the right to vote on who the leader of the empire was, and 2. You don’t get that a lot of the things Jesus did were VERY political, and deliberately ticked off the powers that be in both religious and secular leadership. I’m not saying Jesus has to be a Democrat or a Republican (thanks for clearing that up for us, Jim Wallis), but I believe that Christ wants us to bring the Good News of God’s grace to bear in all that we do, and that includes voting. So instead of not voting at all, why not vote for someone like Mark Charles, an independent candidate who is running on a platform that promises true justice for all. Or, vote for one of the other candidates on the ballot–I’m sure they mostly have some nice things going for them.
But don’t sit this one out. The stakes are too high for that, and too many people have given their lives so you have this right. To not exercise that right would be a shame, and a real jerk move.
David (The Grump)