I made a mistake yesterday. After spending nearly fifteen minutes in the voting booth trying to decide between impossibly flawed candidates, I made the mistake of declaring on Facebook that I couldn’t bring myself to vote for any of them. Instead, I had only voted against the Meals Tax. This morning I read the results and it is clear that for the 1,659th time in my life…I should have kept my mouth shut. Among other things I was accused of inexcusable apathy. I was reminded of all those who had fought and died to preserve my right to vote. I was told that since I had not made a choice in the voting booth, I had lost my right to complain. I was accused of aiding the Democratic candidates by not voting. Even my credentials as a Christian were challenged since I didn’t vote against the Democrats since they are the only party in America completely bereft of morals, principles, and values.
Politics is an enterprise that doesn’t respond well to reason, so mounting a defense against these charges is in many ways a pointless exercise, sort of like attempting to answer the question, “does this dress make me look fat?” But, I do love a challenge, and pointless exercises are for me, the spice of life, so here goes.
1. INEXCUSABLE APATHY. If I were truly apathetic, I wouldn’t have gone to the polling station in the first place. I did, in fact, vote. If apathy is the lack of passion or excitement, I can make a reasoned argument that this is a good thing when it comes to politics. In our nation’s history, it has been the true believers in the power of politics who have done the most damage to life and liberty. Woodrow Wilson’s deranged progressives at the turn of the century provide a textbook example of what happens when a group of people get fired up over the possibilities of political power. I would think an intense skepticism about politics would be a much wiser approach, given the history of partisanship.
2. People have died for my right to vote. No, they haven’t. The brave men and women of the United States military who have fallen in battle did not do so to preserve my right to vote. They did so to preserve my freedom, which includes the freedom to not vote. If you want mandatory voting as a requirement of citizenship, move to Cuba. Besides, any thinking person who knows anything at all about this country does not want every citizen voting. Do you really want the 40% of Americans who can’t name the Vice-President, and think the Supreme Court was the name of Diana Ross’ second album…voting?
3. By not voting, I lose my right to complain. Bullshit. I am a tax-paying, fully functioning citizen of the United States of America. The fact that I couldn’t in good conscience pull the lever for the candidates that our cash-addled political parties vomited up onto the ballot this year takes my right to complain away in much the same way as refusing to eat poisoned food takes away my right to starve to death. Again, people who say this are describing Cuba, not a free Republic.
4. By not voting, I helped the Democrats get elected. I, er..uh, what??
5. Even if I didn’t like the Republican candidates, I should have voted against the Democrat since they are immoral. Several people made this point, bringing up the Democratic Party’s support for abortion and gay marriage as evidence of their immorality. First of all, I agree that abortion is immoral, and I believe that homosexuality is a sin. But to make the leap to, “democrats have no morals” is ludicrous and insulting. One can be mistaken without being immoral. Are these two issues the only two things that require morals, principles and values? I can make a reasoned and intellectual argument against the entire welfare state apparatus on the grounds that it is injurious to the very people it claims to help. But I can concede and even admire the moral underpinnings of my Democratic friends who support it, since it is their moral, principled, value system of caring for the poor that undergirds it. You might even say that they believe that it is their Democratic party that is trying to follow the commands of our savior to care for the “least of these.” I believe them to be merely mistaken, not immoral. The assumption that underlies the view among many Christians that Republican Party support equates to genuine Christianity is an insidious slander. Besides, “blessed are the peace makers” isn’t exactly a description of the Republican Party these days. What about that moral? Or how about Capital punishment? Surely reasonable people can disagree, right? Seeing as how roughly 50% of “born again believers” end up in divorce court, does that mean that they have no morals, since divorce is clearly contrary to scripture. You can’t cherry-pick moral values, and any assertion that any secular political party has a monopoly on values, principles and morals is lazy and disingenuous. Still, many of my Christian friends will say that regardless of where a candidate stands on a thousand other issues, a Christian cannot vote for him if he is pro-choice. Ok. So, does that mean that if a Pro-Life candidate came along who was for Obamacare, raising taxes, and an expanding welfare state, that Christians lose their right to complain about losing their health plan and their higher taxes?
Politics has often been called the ‘art of the possible.” Well, morally pure, totally principled political parties don’t exist. You make the choice the best you can between very flawed men and women. And every now and then, when presented candidates for whom the bar has been lowered beyond comprehension, you do the moral, principled thing…and vote “NO.”