How Canada Convinced Me Not to Vote
A friend e-mailed weeks ago to ask my political opinion. Because of her newfound faith, she's approaching this election differently. Like most Christ-followers, Democrat and Republican, she wants to cast a "Christian" vote.
Her e-mail arrived the day Her.meneutics released its first eBook, What Christian Women Want This Election Season, which I advised her to read. Apart from this recommendation, however, I was stumped. In fact, I was feeling—and still feel—politically ambivalent. Voting is a great freedom and an important civic responsibility. However, a vote for president cannot express the breadth of Christian conviction.
Although political disengagement may not be a "moral option," I have decided I won't vote next month. Now that I am living in Canada, I would have needed to obtain an absentee ballot to vote, and I simply lacked the political will to bother.
Let me begin by sketching my demographic as well as my political voting history. I fit a Republican profile. I am white and, according to recent Gallup polls, wealthy. I was raised in a conservative evangelical home, and until 2008, have always voted Republican. This past affiliation has been owed primarily to my conservative stance on social issues informed by scriptural principle. I have wanted to defend human life, religious liberty, and the sacred institution of marriage.
But I have grown increasingly wary to affiliate with the Republican Party, for a number of reasons. To begin, I regret the influence of the Tea Party, which forces centrist and conciliatory Republicans toward more extreme political positions, effectively ensuring that Congress gets nowhere. I am also embarrassed by the apparent diminishment of Republican intellectual credibility reflected individually in statements from politicians like Todd Akin, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Bachmann. What's more, if ignorance weren't bad enough, how about generally boorish behavior? Whether it's hate mail sent to climate scientists (Katherine Hayhoe is a professing evangelical Christian) or Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a "slut" and "prostitute," some Republicans have just sounded bigoted and hateful.
Of course, people of red and blue ilk commit these sins. But I have one more reason for my hesitation to vote Republican this year. For this, I have my Canadian friends to thank.
One small step out of the American political landscape has been one giant leap of perspective. If one issue on the ballot this fall is the virtue of the social safety net and policies like the Affordable Care Act, Canadians have already cast their ballot. As an example, decades ago, they gave a majority "yes" to government-funded health care. Their health-care system, while not a perfect one, is a source of great national pride.