It’s more complicated than that, of course. Some voted days and weeks ago through the mail. Some in the military voted with ballots marked in countries thousands of miles from their closest “home town” polling site. Some needed help to place an “x” by a candidate’s name. On my California ballot, a witness aiding a voter must also sign their name on the document.
Isn’t it easy to vote?
And yet so many don’t.
According to the United States Election Project, the results for President in 2016 (with 231,556,622 eligible voters) were:
- 6% Didn’t Vote
- 6% voted for Hillary Clinton
- 5% voted for Donald Trump
- 7% voted for Gary Johnson
So, it could be said that the third pace finisher won. But the popular count doesn’t count, since the Electoral College decides the winner and loser in the presidential contest.
But come on!
In a nation with the freedom to vote, barely half take the time to complete a ballot?
Shame on us!
Voting matters, right?
Of course, once only men voted. Well, men of a certain “color.” And a particular age. But then, with a modest addition of a couple of sentences to the U.S. Constitution, everyone could vote. Except women. Of any age. And then women could vote. Except . . .
Still, please, I hope you vote. People have died so you could. Given the frailty of freedom, the blood shed for the ability to cast a ballot, and (whether voting in the 18th or 21st century) the obvious presence in the world of dictators and monarchies and tyrants that prevent some from voting, you should vote!
In my decades in or around the pulpit of a church, that’s about as much as I was truly allowed say about any election: please vote. Hey, I could also add some heavy-duty guilt from the pulpit, couldn’t I? Isn’t it the job of a preacher to subtly-bluntly-cleverly mix in a dose of guilt with the Good News? Like most seminary students, one of my favorite required classes was Guilt 101. I recall it being well attended and most future preachers easily earned an A.
Tell the congregation to vote.
Add guilt, as needed.
End of message.
Well, I’m no longer anchored to a pulpit. I’m an old retired geezer and don’t have the restraints of a denomination’s edicts, a nation’s laws, and don’t fret about upsetting the little old ladies or grumpy old men occupying the well-worn, cushion-less pews.
I can tell you to vote Republican! Or Democrat! Or to be a rascal and vote Green!
But I won’t. My parents didn’t raise no fool.
I will try to irk you in other ways, though.
I’m glad, in my ministry, that I served at least one church that didn’t display a flag of the United States in the sanctuary. Most did. I never had the courage to confront any of the members of those churches who were likely proud that the flag was present. But I heartily and faithfully believe that a Christian sanctuary is not a place for a national flag. Worshipping God, following the narrow, rocky path of Jesus, shouldn’t have any symbols competing (or conflicting) with the altar’s welcome, the pulpit’s freedom, or the believer’s soul. When in a sanctuary, as a guy who—with my sins, foolishness, and hypocrisy—claims allegiance to Jesus, I am in another “country:” God’s Realm of Love. There are no borders. The neon welcome sign is never off. There’s always a candle in the window. The only language spoken is love.
Of course, Jesus didn’t vote. No one did in the empire where he lived. The military, and Caesar and Caesar’s minions, made all decisions for daily life in the backwater slice of geography known as Galilee. We rightly say, just to stir up the arguments, that Jesus never talked about homosexuals or abortion (though both were present in his day) . . . so why have they become such hot button issues for modern believers? Well, we could also rightly say that Jesus never once talked about voting, so why should be concerned about it as present-day Christians?
Still, I think we should.
And, since all that pulpit work is behind me, I really do feel like I might as well tell you how to vote and who to vote for . . .
So, vote using the proper instrument. For me, it was black pen, and I carefully filled in the miniscule oval next to the people and propositions I voted for. I followed directions! And I carefully, after much thought and prayer, voted for the women and men that seemed to mostly closely represent my values as a citizen. I hope you do the same.
Want me to make you feel guilty about that? I have lots of experience!
Please (please!) . . . vote.
Truly, with how the country is going these days, shouldn’t we all be tired that the winner continues to be a fickle dullard by the name of Didn’t Vote?