I had been thinking of punting on voting; after all, I just had surgery yesterday and I’m all washed out today. I had thought about voting absentee, but in the rush to get things done before surgery, I didn’t. Well, that’s all right, I thought. The right to vote includes the right NOT to vote, and sometimes voting isn’t your top priority, particularly if it’s a primary election, there are only a few contested spots on the ballot, and you’ll vote for whoever wins them, anyway. As Harvey Cox said, “Not to decide is to decide.” So deciding not to vote is an endorsement of whatever you wind up with.
For that matter, I think some people probably shouldn’t vote. The ignorant, the foolish, the people who don’t care, who haven’t been paying attention, probably shouldn’t make up their minds based upon foolish considerations or campaign emotion. Still, the ignorant and the foolish have the right to vote, because this is their country as much as anybody else’s. Believing that we’ll all be better off if some people don’t vote isn’t the same as saying that we should prevent them from voting!
But then, a colleague of mine posted on his Facebook today about his conscientious choice not to register to vote. In response to numerous queries, he avers that all that voting doesn’t make any difference, anyway. I am appalled. An elder of The United Methodist Church doesn’t believe in voting!
Thousands have died to gain us the right to vote. Thousands more prayed for it, and protested for it, when it was denied them. Thousands of newly-freed Iraqis and Afghanis braved death threats to vote. The only alternative to voting the bums out that need voted out is the violent overthrow of the government; surely, we all hope we’re not to that point yet.
And more than that, voting is, for Americans, an assertion of sovereignty. We are the kings of this country, not the government. “Give the king thy justice, O God” is in an American context can be understood as a prayer that the people will exercise their sovereignty wisely, especially through the exercise of the franchise.
And so, I got up off my couch and had Deanne drive me downtown to vote. It was no longer a matter of convenience; it was a confessional issue. Caesar Rodney arose from his deathbed and traveled sixty miles to Philadelphia to cast one of the deciding votes for independence in the Continental Congress. Surely, I can do no less, surgery or not.
And shame on those who know better, but refuse the awesome gift and responsibility they have been given!