… and how you should, too. Most of my readers live in the US and we have local, state, and federal elections Tuesday, November 6. Every four years the pundits tell us, “This is one of the most important elections of our lifetime.” I’ve grown tired of this cliché, but this time, I believe they are right. The choices before us at state and national levels will have profound effects on our nation for generations to come. This might also be true at the local level for you. To oversimplify the situation, the choices before us in this election are deeply rooted in choices between very distinct values systems. Therefore, your values, what you hold dear in your heart and what drives your beliefs and daily living, are what should drive your votes.
That’s how I am voting and how you should too—vote your values! No, I’m not going to tell you my specific votes. I am encouraging you to carefully consider what is important to you and then to find out which candidates support your values. In a representative democracy, we elect people at local, state, and national levels to represent our views as they gather to make choices that affect all of us on a daily basis. The only conscionable way to follow through on your voting responsibility is to identify your own values and to align your voting choices with the values of the people on your ballot.
Reverend Billy Graham’s example is instructive. He said:
”The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”
Rev. Graham is voting his values. If you don’t vote your values, what are the alternatives?
- Some people vote the way their parents did. They do this without taking time to consider whether they believe the same thing or whether the “political party of choice” has morphed over time. (Case in point: both the Democratic and Republican parties of today are considerably different than they were 40 and 80 years ago.) This isn’t values-based voting. It is voting by tradition.
- Some people vote based on the ads published by the candidates and super pacs. Research shows that what a candidate says about himself in these ads does not influence voting decisions. However, what a candidate says about their opponent does influence voting decisions. This isn’t values-based voting. It is voting by slander.
- Some people vote strictly by party. Their choice is based on the party endorsement or affiliation, not on what the person stands for. I tend to vote a particular party, but I recall times when an endorsed candidate did not support my values. In these cases I have researched other candidates and made another choice. Voting by party is not values-based voting. It is voting by abdication.
- Some people vote according to direction from their company or union. I understand the incredible pressure placed on these individuals. I have compassion for those in this situation, and I confess to a bit of anger toward the employers and union leaders who apply this pressure. For people in these situations I pray for you to have courage and to exercise the incredible gift you have, the opportunity to vote your values, in the voting booth.
- Some people even vote based on who is better looking. There really are people who do this. I know someone who voted for Al Gore (over George Bush) based on physical appearance. In a bizarre way that person might call this values-based voting. I call it foolishness.
Think about how you have voted in the past. Which category above best describes your voting habits? My guess is that most of you vote based on party or on family tradition. Values voting takes work, but I can assure you that when you vote your values you will have more confidence in your choices. I went to my city Web site and downloaded a sample ballot for my precinct. Then, as a family we researched the various candidates to find out what they stand for. We used their Web sites, campaign literature, and independent voter’s guides to discern their values. That research helped us determine how to fill out our ballots tomorrow.
I’m not naive enough to think all my candidates will win, but I believe I made the best choices according to my values. I am confident in the link between what I hold dear and what these individuals stand for.
Please, take time to vote your values Tuesday.