On Saturday Australia votes and (broadly speaking) as a result we will get the government we deserve. Vote like a donkey (i.e. do not fill in the forms) and expect to be governed by donkeys. Vote thoughtfully and you at least have a chance of being governed by people who care about where we are headed as a country.
The image below reflects some of what happened in the UK over the weekend. It seems a bunch of people didn’t do their homework and simply cast a vote without realising what they were doing. So on Sunday morning Google trends shows ‘What is the EU?’ and ‘What does it mean to leave the EU?’ as the two most significant search trends for UK citizens after the vote…
And we need to learn from that, so come Sunday morning we don’t set google trends humming with ‘who is the Pirate Party?’
Unlikely that will actually happen I realise, but you get the point. An uninformed vote is irresponsible and a waste of the privilege we have in this country. That said an informed vote is complex and laden with tension because no one party ‘ticks all the boxes’ on everything. I voted last week as we will be on holidays on Saturday and as I left the voting booth I felt dirty – compromised – because I couldn’t endorse everything about the mob I voted for. But I would have felt that no matter who I cast my vote for.
So how do we form a vote as Christians?
There are a few helpful articles here:
- John Dickson writes about the ‘Christian Vote’ and why we should all be swingers at heart.
- Scott Higgins writes offers a paradigm for framing a vote and then explains his thinking in voting Green.
- The ACL offer their ‘scorecard‘ for Christian voting
- The eternity crew give their policy summaries
- And here’s an article entitled ‘Should I vote For a Christian Party?‘
I spoke to this issue yesterday at church and offered my own ‘how to vote’ proposal. The topic is intended to be provocative and evoke a bit of a ‘who do you think you are to tell me how to vote!’ response, but its actually different to telling you who to vote for. Deciding ‘how to vote’ is on one hand very simple, but on the other requires thought, interaction and careful reflection.
Hamo’s ‘how to vote’ guide is simply this:
- View all parties policies thru the lens of the kingdom of God and the teaching of Jesus. Use the sermon on the mount, use the Gospels, but try and see who lines up best with the stuff Jesus was on about. That’s both simple and complex, because no one is a perfect fit.
- Pray, read, discuss and repeat… I’m sure many of pray and read, but the ‘discuss’ element often gets tetchy and we shy away from letting people know who we will vote for or how we are going in our thinking. What this second stage does is tests our concerns against the way other Christians read the Bible and read the policies. God put us in community right?… Well part of that is because we are able to think better together than on our own. Alone, we are limited in our thinking, but when we start to interact with other Christians we have to explain our positions or accept that maybe we need to re-think. Threatening? It doesn’t have to be… That’s why the third part matters.
- Agree to live in harmony no matter what. I don’t intend to malign anyone for voting in a different way to me because they have made the best call they can with the info they have and the issues they see as core to the kingdom. So if we know that there is a commitment to one another that goes beyond our political preferences then we can love one another whether we vote Liberal or Green.
My belief is that for all of us there are some issues that matter more than others and they will give strongest shape to our final decision. Some of us will see religious freedom as the biggest issue, while others will fight to the death for the barrier reef.
For me the ‘clincher issue’ was asylum seekers and our inhumane treatment of those in detention. I didn’t want to go see ‘Chasing Asylum’ last week, but as I went I prayed ‘help me to see something worthwhile in this… help me to know what I am doing here…’ The outcome was that I left having decided not to vote for anyone who could endorse this form of suffering and to cast my vote for those who would seek to end it and treat people more compassionately.
Its slim pickings when you choose to make that a ‘filter’… and in making that choice I inevitably voted for some people who hold different perspectives to me on other issues. But I know what I’ve done and I’m prepared to live with the consequences of that – both good and bad.
So, that’s Hamo’s How to Vote guide for yet another election…
Have fun voting as we will be somewhere between Geraldton and Carnarvon on that day 🙂