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God's Kingdom without Borders

On Election Day Eve…Why (Not) Vote?

With this post Election Day looms. Many of my friends can’t wait for the hot air and hype of campaign rhetoric to be over! (can’t say I blame them). But voting and civic responsibility do have a serious place in the practices of Christians, so I figure it’s worth a timely blog.
A friend of mine named Kris recently Facebooked his delightful, intelligent, biblically-oriented take on this subject under the title “7 Bad Reasons to Vote, One (Possibly) Good Reason.” I thought I’d feature him as a guest and excerpt him here, making special note that at least a couple of his reasons definitely relate to The Vine’s multicultural mission among refugees, immigrants and other often marginalized minorities:
1. “He (or she) is an idiot” – Politics easily devolve to an ugly game of character defamation which often has little to do with the real issues.
2. “It’s my Civic Duty” – …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.
3. “Democracy depends on it” – …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.
4. “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 the cross, servanthood, and humility. The Kingdom of God does not rest on a political nation.
5. “Fear” – Fear tends to drive us to being irrational….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.
6. “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…. Making an evaluation based on a single sampling falls far short of any real economic analysis.
7. “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.
One (Possibly) Good Reason: 1. 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 a virtuous and noble use of this important and valuable right.”

After all his debunkery, my friend Kris ends up commending the right and holy place of advocacy–a form of “love your [disadvantaged] neighbor as yourself.” This final word reminds me of a sagely mentor of mine, now with Jesus, who used to challenge fellow Jesus followers to catch such a vision for biblical justice that they’re willing to “vote against their own selfish interest.”
Not bad counsel, I think. What’s your take?

Posted in Multicultural on 5 November 2012

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