Is my vote important or not?
As an abstainer from the two party system (at least as relates to the upcoming presidential election) one of the arguments I frequently hear is that I am expecting too much from a president. I frequently hear that I’m a perfectionist, that politics just is what it is, and that you can’t expect too much from it. A political race is always about choosing the lesser of two evils, not about changing the world, or perfecting the system of governance.
So when I was bothered by the kinds of shenanigans that went on at the RNC, and the way the rules were changed over the vote of the delegates, and the way certain delegates were unseated, or kept from voting I was told to relax. It’s politics. This is just the way it is. It may not be right, but you can’t expect much.
And when I object to just holding my nose and pulling the lever for Romney and lament the fact that there isn’t a candidate that I feel comfortable voting for I’m told that it’s not about voting for an ideal candidate, but looking at the options in front of us and putting my modicum of support toward the better of the two options.
Relax, I’m told. This isn’t about solving everything. It’s just politics. It’s a pragmatic choice for what will be slightly better. Change is incremental at best. We work with what we have. We can’t be perfectionists. We just do the best we can with what we have and trust that Jesus is in charge and that ultimately politics isn’t the end-all-be-all of the Christian hope.
So far okay, perhaps.
But then the other shoe drops.
I look at all of the above and think, ‘okay, fair enough. Maybe I’m putting too many of my marbles into political aspirations. But I’m still not comfortable giving consent to either candidate for various reasons, so I just won’t vote, or I’ll vote third party or maybe write in a candidate. After all, our hope isn’t in the political process but in Jesus’ sovereign kingship over all the earth, right. I can’t expect too much from politics, so I don’t have to fret too much over how I vote, I’ll just vote my conscience.’
But then the tables turn. Suddenly my vote is imperative, and my decision very important. Suddenly it becomes incredibly important that we get Obama out, and my non-vote or non-Romney vote is a very big deal. Suddenly I’m helping Obama advance towards another term wherein weeping and gnashing of teeth will be the order of the day. At this point I am called a perfectionist as before, but now my perfectionism is not mere naivete, but tantamount to support for cataclysmic destruction. Now I am not told to calm down and not expect so much, but to expect hellfire and brimstone if I don’t just hold my nose and vote for that lesser of two evils.
So my question is, which is it? Is it the case that my voting isn’t really that big a deal and that I should just vote for the lesser of two evils because pragmatically it may make the situation a little better, even if there are things about him that we all agree are pretty awful. Or is it that not voting for said lesser of two evils and voting (or not) according to my conscience is tacit support for the apocalypse?
I am obviously being somewhat hyperbolic here, but the point stands. If wanting to vote for someone one believes to actually be a good candidate and that one can honestly give the consent of the governed to, regardless of party affiliation or likelihood of winning, is simply expecting too much of the process and taking it a bit too seriously, then how can doing the same also be not taking the process seriously enough and not recognizing that one is tacitly empowering tremendous evil and shirking one’s responsibility to save us from going over the ubiquitous cliff?