Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lack of Voter Responsibility

Yes, I'm joining the crowd of people commenting on the election. However, I want to do it a bit differently and in a way more relevant to this blog. One of the things I have particularly realized this election season is how much people vote (either direction) based on selfishness and a desire for others to take responsibility for themselves. We often vote for things or people that will benefit us, even if it's not the right thing. A non-election example was during my undergrad experience. Students were up in arms because of a tuition increase (it was a UC, so the increase really wasn't that much compared to private schools). Sure, none of us wanted to pay more. However, there hadn't been an increase in years. While I didn't want the increase, I also didn't find much reason to complain about it because it seemed fair.

How often do we vote for something we don't like but think is fair? Rarely, I believe, but I also believe it's important.

Similarly to faith, I get frustrated when people don't really think through their political beliefs. The current political system doesn't help. We get a soundbite argument, and we think the conclusion and solution is obvious. We want to help the environment? Obviously go with the Green Party or the Dems. Don't like abortion? Clearly the Reps should have our support. Don't like the war in Iraq? Obviously pull the troops out immediately. Think our economy is failing? The government clearly should bail us out. Support a free market? Then the Libertarians or Reps have it right.

The problem is we don't think about the ramifications of any of these actions and don't think about alternatives. Do the Greens or Dems have the best solution to environmental problems? Do the Reps have the best abortion policy? Is pulling troops and bailing out banks really the solution to these problems? Are the free market solutions proposed by Libertarians and Reps really the best support of a free market?

There is some talk about this, but honestly, it's lame talk. The debates are shallow and based on fear tactics and pulling at our selfish emotions than really making us consider what's right and wrong.

We don't want to take the time to think about it. And we also like the idea of the government coming in and solving all of our problems. Even if each party has good ideas, we also often fail to ask if their implementation through the government is the best option. I saw a great sign the other day, which stated something like, "Lacking of planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on my part." We need to remember that when it comes to the government. It can feel good because it removes responsibility from ourselves, but I personally think, particularly based on the Bible, the buck stops with each of us individually. Shall we take that responsibility and hand it over to politicians and the government with a vote and some tax dollars, or are we willing to get a bit messy and get involved ourselves?

What I ask is that when you vote, you vote having really thought through your decisions, not simply believing what different campaigns tell you about different policies. The best solution is not always the obvious one...

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