>voting my conscience


Democratic elections in Afghanistan reminds me of
how precious and hard won is the right to vote.

Like you I’ve been curious about the upcoming presidential vote. I think Obama is going to win. It’s not a forgone conclusion, but it’s heading in that direction, which is fine by me, all things considered. There are many things that will not change if Obama gets into the oval office, and there are some that will. I hope many things with our foreign policy changes. I hope we focus more on helping the poor and downtrodden rather than the rich. I hope we restore basic human rights, like the right to habeas corpus. We’ll see.

For too many, though, it still comes down to uncritical perceptions and single issues.

I have noticed that many conservative Christians – those who supported G.W. Bush because he is a “strong Christian man” – are now finding no clear choice in this election. They don’t really like McCain, but they feel they can’t vote for Obama. I have heard a few say they are not going to vote at all, which is good for Obama and bad for the democratic process. One of the biggest reasons conservative Christians would cast a vote for McCain is because of his supposedly “pro-life” stance. I think McCain is lying, but that’s beside the point. Christians are just as Pavlovian as everyone else. If a candidate says he’s pro-life he will automatically get votes from many who are single issue voters or those who think abortion is a hugely critical issue and they can’t find any other issues in this election to care about.* It allows people to vote their conscience, which is something we all should do, but just how informed are we? If one is pro-life (which I am) and one wants to vote her or his conscience, where should one cast their vote?

I can only answer for myself. I believe Obama is more consistently pro-life than McCain. That may sound strange to say, but there are good reasons. McCain, apart from merely using a new-found pro-life stance to get votes, has a decidedly less pro-life stance when it comes to a holistic evaluation of his platform. Obama, on the other hand, has done more, and is for more, in terms of changing and dealing with the multiplicity of issues that make unwanted pregnancies a sad fact in this country. Obama is also someone who, much more than McCain (whose enthusiasms tends toward ‘us’ and ‘them’ scenarios), seeks to affirm the value of the whole person and a world of hope. Hope, as I see it, can be a kind of antidote to unwanted pregnancies as much as addressing poverty. That doesn’t solve the problem of abortion, but it seems clear to me that no final or complete solution is coming from this election.

Maybe it’s ironic, but Christians may find a more Christ-like platform with Obama than McCain.** I am becoming more convinced that’s true. I also am not a “single issue” person. If it were even possible for me to speak for God, I would say God is not “single issue” either. Of course I certainly do not speak as an expert, just an ordinary citizen schmuck like you. I am trying to get myself informed. You may disagree with me on this or other issues. If you do then vote your conscience, but try, as I will, to get the whole picture. That’s the least we can do, really.

If you have the time and inclination, read these two articles by pro-life voters who are both voting for Obama precisely because they’re pro-lifers:

I’m Catholic, staunchly anti-abortion, and support Obama

Why I’m Pro-life and Pro-Obama

In conclusion, I have to say that image at the beginning of this post of the first democratic elections in Afghanistan challenges me of how much we take voting for granted. I know that being a good citizen is more than only voting every four years, but I am also reminded of just how precious is a cast vote. If you don’t like the two candidates that are getting all the headlines, then vote for someone else. There are a lot to chose from.

* I must say that abortion is a very serious issue for many reasons. One can easily trot out a laundry list of reasons that show abortion for what it is – evil. But one can also do the same for war, especially preemptive wars that kills hundreds of thousands of innocent lives (including many thousands of children) for the sake of “peace” and oil. One can also make laundry lists for poverty, greed, lying, capital punishment, denying basic rights, spying, and the ruthless craving of power. There are so many important issues to care about. Regardless, abortion is undoubtedly an important issue.

* * I want to be clear that I do not see Obama, or any politician as a “savior.” Salvation, on almost any level, is not coming with this election. We still, however, should do everything we can to move in the right direction. For me that includes moving towards ending wars, ending poverty, and helping those at the bottom of society, including the disenfranchised and socially outcast. It also includes trying to love my neighbor as myself in the most tangible and meaningful ways that I can. I think we find greater hints at that kind of thinking in Obama’s platform than we do in either McCain’s or Bush’s.

7 thoughts on “>voting my conscience

  1. >Good analysis and thanks for your insight, Tuck. I agree that I find Obama’s platform to be more aligned with a complete, holistic understanding of what it means to be “pro-life.”But I’m still not only tired of practically ending up solely with a choice of the “lesser of two evils,” but also the tacit admission that “this is the way things will always be” that comes with that sort of characterization. The Utilitarian in me will probably vote for Obama over McCain; the Deontologist in me feels homeless and adrift.

  2. >Deanna, thanks for your comments.Brian, I hear your pain. The other day I was watching some of Ken Burns documentary The Civil War and I was struck again by a comment from Shelby Foote. He said the war came about largely because of a failure to do what Americans do best – that is compromise. I’ve been thinking about that in light of this vote. It seems to me that to compromise is to choose the lesser of two evils, to give up what you ultimately want for what you can reasonably get. And your Deontologist in you is right – you’re only visiting this planet.

  3. >Heh. That’s right.”Well, I wonder who would lead us if none of us would vote.”Foote’s point (and yours) about the value of compromise is well-taken. I think it’s really the only way that people, being the broken, contentious creatures that they are, can live together in a society. Unless they took to heart the last line of the Larry Norman song.

  4. >I’ve struggled with this thought also, voting based on a single issue, and in fact had a very heated discussion with my brother in law regarding his vote for mccain only because of his pro-life stance….this has given me some new food for thought, but I have to admit also muddled my decision even more.

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