Here’s the opening lines from a new article by Charles Colson:
I have been surprised by the number of Christians who have given up on politics this year. “I don’t like either candidate, so I’m staying home,” some say.
I get fed up with the vain posturing and empty promises, too. But not voting is not an option—it’s both our civic and sacred duty. Voting is required of us as good citizens and as God’s agents for appointing leaders.
Wow, voting is a sacred duty? That some form of government is divinely appointed is scriptural (Rom 13), but the notion that the modern nation-state is actually interested in any vaguely biblical notion of justice instead of self-serving power can only be reached by a willful ignorance of all of the evidence.
I agree with Colson that Christian apathy is to be lamented, but the notion that this is the only reason why we might forgo voting is to betray a distinct lack of biblically-informed imagination. Perhaps we might choose to avoid voting because, as Stanley Hauerwas is fond of saying: “Voting is violent. Where else do you see 51% of people able to force their will on the other 49%?”
Perhaps there are Christians who see in Jesus a profoundly engaged and political rejection of all forms of violence. Just maybe there are Christian reasons to imagine the nation-state to be fundamentally idolatrous and easier to identify (biblically speaking) with Babylon rather than the promised land. It’s because they haven’t given up on an engaged, loving politics that these Christians have given up on the farce that is national electoral voting.
That being said, I’m probably voting for the Green Party in the upcoming Canadian election, because they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning and they’re saying more that needs to be said than any other party. Besides, it helps me to not be tempted to hope in politicians, which I believe to implicit in our confession that Jesus is Lord.
2 responses to “Voting As a Lack of Imagination”
Although I strongly disagree that voting is violent, the tyranny of the majority (to borrow Tocqueville’s words) is an inherent flaw with the democratic system. Nevertheless, I’d prefer it to a tyranny of the minority. Actually, that sounds like the Harper administration now that I think about it…
Heh, the Harperian tyranny of the minority. Like it. The turn of phrase, that is. Not the tyranny.
I think that what makes voting violent is when it is substituted for a more pervasive democracy: public participation in the shaping of the public. Reducing democracy to mere voting is really giving up on democracy as such. It is abandoning the peaceful process of consensus-building and participatory politics for something easier to regulate and administrate. Again, a lack of imagination.