It may be tempting for our faithful readers, most of whom label themselves conservatives, to punish the Republican party by voting Democrat this election Tuesday. Certainly, the GOP has lost touch with its ideological roots. But let me recommend something else.
First, we need to realize that politics can’t change people. Especially in a representative form of government, civil rule reflects popular opinion to a much greater extent than it directs it. Our currently abysmal civil system—and there is no doubt that it is truly abysmal—exists because most Americans want it that way, even when they attest to the contrary.
For instance, most conservatives rail against welfare, Obamacare, and the like. But we don’t provide for the healthcare and livelihood of truly poor people in our local area, and many of us don’t have any issue with (or even knowledge of) the injustices of corporate welfare.
Most conservatives are against abortion. But conservative divorce rates are as bad as liberal divorce rates, we look at pornography as much as they do, and we don’t do well enough caring for unwanted babies after they’ve been born. We contribute to a licentious, over-sexed culture, and then we condemn the natural symptom—unwanted babies—of the vices we also indulge in.
The fact is that politics can’t change that. Punishing one party or another, gaining seats in the House, electing the “right” man president… none of this actually gets at the problem. The problem is that the majority of Americans don’t live according to principle. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that Americans live according to wrong principles; I mean they don’t live according to any fixed principles at all.
Most of us are pragmatists. Most of the people voting on Tuesday will vote in order to effect a desired change. To them, the end justifies the means. Some will vote Democrat because they want more handouts or because they believe others need more handouts. They think voting Democrat will get that done. Some, like Chris Graham, will vote Democrat as a form of chemotherapy for socialism: “If we kill this country with socialism, perhaps people will finally get it.” Others will vote Republican to stem the tide of American regression. All of them vote to effect change. They are looking to accomplish something with their vote. They vote according to their own predictions of the future: if I do this, then that will happen.
There is a problem (perhaps many problems) with that reasoning. If you base your actions on a predicted outcome, you are limited by the narrowness of your vision and the ineffectiveness of your impact. In other words, we have no idea what is going on on a national level, and even if we did, we have little power to do anything about it.
America has been drinking the pragmatist Kool-Aid for nearly one hundred and fifty years, and it has produced nothing but social degradation and civil collapse. Why don’t we try what made America great in the first place? Principles. Vote on Tuesday, but vote your conscience. Don’t vote to see things change. Vote for a person if, and only if, you think that person is a valid candidate for the office. He doesn’t have to be perfect. He just has to be valid according to your political principles. If you don’t have political principles, you should get some before you vote. Don’t worry if your candidate is popular or electable. Just vote for whom you think is a valid candidate.
But it doesn’t stop there. Too many people leave the voting booth thinking they’ve done their civic duty. They have not even begun to do their civic duty. Voting isn’t even the bare minimum. We need to be a people that lives out what we believe on a daily basis, no matter what the predicted outcome will be. You hate abortion? That’s good. But do you avoid all forms of pornography? Are you honorable towards women? Do you help young men learn how to be honorable? Are you being the kind of man you want your daughters to marry? Are you helping single mothers in your local community take care of the babies they didn’t abort?
In reality, if you do these kinds of things and put your life where your vote is, it will make a much greater impact on this country than your vote ever could. By all means, vote tomorrow. And vote by your conscience. Vote by principle, not by pragmatism. But, more importantly, live by principle. Election Tuesday shouldn’t be any different than any other day. Instead of trying to make a big difference in one day, let’s make small differences every day.