Voting for our Character

Great voting turnout
Photographer: Element5 Digital | Source: Unsplash

The word of the year for 2020 has been “unprecedented”. It may be a word we have to retire after this year for several different reasons. If 2021 contains more of the same that we faced in 2020, it will no longer be “unprecedented”. Will that make it a presidented year? (sorry, bad joke) Will it be an unprecedented year in voting?

One of the things that I have found exciting this year (2020) has been the increased number of voters who have come out to exercise their political freedom. I have wondered more than once if our world would look any different if they had all come out voting in previous elections. We may have a better idea of that tomorrow. Then again, this has been an unprecedented year and the results may be unique to 2020.

If you have followed me much during the past decade you probably realize that I take issue with both major political parties in the United States on one issue or another, and more recently on how leadership happens. That leadership has risen as a greater concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the major voting issues remain very similar to previous years. The economy, for instance, continues to dominate the conversation.

The economy is a complicated system that seems to either 1.) balance itself out naturally over time, or 2.) require the constant attention of one group of leaders or another, or else it falls like a bunch of Jenga blocks. Maybe the reality is closer to 3.) where those who have the most influence over the economy treat it as a fragile #2 and those who want control back are ok knocking it over and starting again with themselves at the top. I let the experts argue over that while I deal with the economy at the local level.

Our culture has lost its ethos, or its character, and I want to know where to find some and how to make sure it sticks with us. This week, and most of this year, much of our media has operated under the assumption that whoever wears the crown of leadership directs the moral fiber of our people. I don’t believe that. In fact, I think I cannot believe that and call myself a follower of Jesus. When I accepted Jesus as the Lord of my life, He took that role permanently from every president, pastor, teacher, and parent in my life. Do I still need to honor those authorities? Yes I do, but there is no one person or party who can shape my ethos, my character, without my consent. Consenting to let someone lead me and voting for them are two different things.

And therein lies the biggest problem.

Voting is something we do once or perhaps twice a year. It seems easier to work on the moral issues of a nation than it does to work on the moral issues I have myself. We all follow models in our behaviors, so it is important that we keep good models in front of us instead of just going with whatever works for the moment. Only then, once we can improve ourselves are we able to bring others along with us. We cannot change our nation if we cannot change our own communities. We cannot change our communities if we cannot change ourselves.

I truly am excited about better voting turnout this year. I don’t know if it will make a significant difference in the election results or not. Only time will tell. However, if my character is changed by an election result, then there is a much bigger problem in my life than the political issues we face today, and it is not a problem that can be solved with a vote.

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