A certain lethargy is evident among voters in the United States — and it is not a new thing. Nor is it a healthy expression of citizenship.
Too many citizens take for granted the right to have a say in the election of leaders at every level. They often have the chance to vote on various propositions and referenda, some of which directly affect the pocketbook and others that have a definite impact upon the moral climate of the community, state or nation. We have the opportunity to elect people who make significant decisions about local education.
The voting booth presents opportunities to influence the welfare of our families and our communities — and sometimes our nation.
The Bible indicates that God ordained government, even though he would not approve of every manifestation of government in today’s world. In giving government its appropriate place in our lives, we exercise more than a civic responsibility. Responsible citizenship is an act of obedience to God.
It is fascinating to observe citizens of other countries who have the opportunity to help shape their destinies when they are allowed to cast a ballot to elect their leaders for the very first time. Some face intimidation yet take the risk, because the right and opportunity are so precious and so rare.
I fear that my own generation of fifty-somethings have come to view election days as something less than critically important. Unlike first-time voters in places like Iraq, we don’t regard the process with much wonder or very much hope. We certainly don’t lose sleep when we miss visiting the polling booth.
The other day I visited my mother in the assisted living facility where she has lived for the past several weeks. On the tray of her walker, she showed me her absentee ballot. Mom admitted she didn’t know who she should vote for in certain races, and she was not familiar with all the propositions and referenda. But with the assistance of the activities director, she once again exercised her right to vote.
She told me about it in a phone call a few days later. She mentioned for whom she had cast her vote for president, and then added, “I hope I did the right thing.” I don’t think Mother was dealing with indecision; my guess is that she simply wanted to make sure she didn’t waste her vote. Voting is serious business.
Experts say we might see an influx of younger voters turning out to cast ballots in what is a historic presidential campaign. Or we might not see that beefed-up youth turnout. I have wondered what kind of message mud-slinging campaigns communicate to young would-be voters. National campaigns have been negative for a long time; some of the more local campaigns seem to me to be rising to new depths as well.
It is no wonder, perhaps, that some utter stupid phrases like, “Well, he’s not my President. I didn’t vote for him.” That’s not unlike the church member who spouts the same thing about the pastor. But the admonition of the Bible — even to citizens who lived under foreign occupation — was (and is) simply to respect and pray for leaders because they are ordained by God for administering government — even if I didn’t vote for them.
Civic responsibility. Spiritual obedience. Call it what you will. But don’t take lightly what some in this world would risk their lives to experience. Become informed, pray and vote.