Posts Tagged ‘Voting’

More on the Morality of Voting

Monday, November 17th, 2008

In the comment section of the previous post, I linked to a debate, Is it Immoral to Vote for McCain/Palin?, and the associated discussion thread.

One side was arguing that it is wrong to vote for the lesser of two evils.  (They argued that McCain is evil on abortion, because of his willingness to allow abortion to be left up to the states, along with his support for rape & incest exceptions, and his support for some government funding of embryonic stem cell research.  That this is morally equivalent to wanting it to be legal to lynch black people, or to beat women.  And that wanting something to be legal leaves you effectively guilty of the crime itself.  There was more–you can read their arguments to get the full picture.)

The “morality of voting” issue turns out to be a more difficult question than I thought.  Think about it this way:  Take some heinous evil, and imagine a candidate who thinks it ought to remain legal.  Would that make it impossible for you to vote for him?  (This is single-issue refusal-to-vote, not quite single-issue voting.)  Could you ever vote for an avowed member of the Klu Klux Klan?  For someone who wants it to be legal to lynch black people?  Could you give approval to such a candidate?

Internet debate can be really bad sometimes.  And some of the debate and discussion was painful to read.  But it was good food for thought.  I posted my conclusions to the discussion thread.  It was a bit long, so I’ll just post the major bullet points here, and follow up with the link, if you want to read more.

1.) Do not do evil to avoid bigger evil. In your actions, words, and thoughts, do not compromise God’s standards. Ends don’t justify means.
2.) To figure out this question, you have to figure out what a vote means.
3.) If voting is inherently an act of approval, support, or participation in the proposed policies of your candidate, then you shouldn’t vote for a candidate with any policies that violate God’s law.
4.) If voting is only a tool for affecting what happens, then you should vote to have the best possible effect, according to your best judgment about what everything that will happen.
5.) I’m not sure how to view voting. I suspect there isn’t an objective answer. When Christians differ on this point of political philosophy, then they’re disagreeing over disputable matters–not over the teaching of Scripture or over the demands of God’s Law.

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Voting Your Conscience

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

What does it mean to vote your conscience?  What is the meaning of a vote?

I have two conservative, pro-life friends who can’t stand Obama, but also do not want to vote for McCain.  Instead, one says that he is going to leave the ballot blank.  I’m not sure what the other is going to do–she may be voting third-party.  But in both cases, they do not want to vote for McCain because they do not believe he is authentically conservative–especially on pro-life issues.  Their conscience won’t allow them to vote for him.

So that makes me wonder… How do you view your vote?

I think my friends are probably thinking about it this way:

“I don’t want to vote for the lesser of two evils.  I want to vote on principle!  Am I going to vote on principle, or am I going to vote pragmatically?”

If you think about it that way, you’ll probably vote “on principle”.  You won’t be willing to vote for the lesser of two evils.

But what if you think about it this way?

“I really don’t want candidate X’s policies to go through.  Am I going to vote to affect what happens, or am I just going to vote to make a statement?”

If you think that way, you’ll probably vote for the lesser of two evils.

So, how should you think about your vote?  How will your conscience reason?

  • A principled vote vs. a pragmatic vote?
  • A vote to make a statement or a vote to affect what happens?