Today represents “Super Tuesday” and my guess is that the majority of Christians are struggling to identify the electoral candidate most deserving of their vote. My suspicion, however, is that many Christians are so caught up in the democratic frenzy that they have not yet answered the question of whether they should even be voting?
I think the main reason for the aforementioned indecision is that by nature election candidates do a poor job of representing what Christians believe (or at least what Christians ought to believe). As a result we end up either a) oversimplifying our beliefs down to one or two “key” positions, or b) opting for the candidate who appears to be the “lesser evil.” Either way, rather than giving voice to our Christian beliefs, this electoral process actually limits Christian expression to those views deemed appropriate for the candidates political strategy. The result is that by relying on the democratic system as our primary vehicle of change we reduce Christianity to a series of items which can be legislated.
More importantly, thanks to Dr. Hauerwas and posse, I no longer feel comfortable with the “individual” and “private” nature of America’s representative democracy. Instead I’ve learned that Christian witness, or perhaps more accurately, Christian politics, is a public activity articulated through a distinct community called church, where acts of generosity, hospitality, and forgiveness confess the Kingdom of God rather than a partisan agenda. From this perspective, the voting booth, as a private and individual activity, becomes a space where it is difficult to exercise Christian commitments.
While it would be irresponsible to conclude that Christianity necessarily prohibits voting in a representative democracy, I think it is time for Christians to realize that representative democracy is not a model for exercising Christian witness.
For other Christian reservations towards democratic participation see:
Evangelical Professor Mark Noll, “None of The Above: Why I’m Not Voting For President” (and responses)
or, Roman Catholic Michael Iafrate’s especially eloquent, “CatholicAnarchy.org’s backing NO ONE in the U.S. Presidential Election”
Also read Mark Van Steenwyk’s 10 Reasons Why I Won’t Be Voting.
and Alasdair MacIntyre’, “When offered a choice between two politically intolerable alternatives, it is important to choose neither.”