Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Why I am Not Voting in this Election by Mark Noll

Mark Noll, professor at Wheaton College and contributor to Christianity Today and many other publications shares this essay on why he will not vote for either party or either candidate based upon his Christian convictions.

It is much more complex than either Party or the Christian Right would have us believe.


james said...

A great article. Call me a cynic, but if Noll chooses not to vote, (and I don't think he has in the last few elections) I don't care to hear him complain about the state of American politics for the next 4 years. Based on these convictions Noll should at the very least, pick someone other than the two leading candidates, perhaps someone he believes best fulfills his convictions. Or even write in a vote. Do something. Just my 2 cents.

kidpositive said...

yeah, Noll's article is nice and all, but it seems to only state what his values and convictions are, never quite linking them to his decision not to vote. The choice to not vote, in my opinion, is a choice of apathy. I've heard a lot of people talk about how they "can't" vote for the lesser of two evils. I think that's a load of crap. There haven't been many, if any, situations in my life where I had to make an important decision and my end choice was ideal. But, then again, that's the struggle of life.

Anyway, people who complain about politics(his article is a form of complaining...."why won't anyone embrace all the values I've chosen to embrace?") and at the same time don't vote piss me off!!!

james said...

I do stand corrected. I think. If in fact his vote is for "none of the above".

kidpositive said...

if "Unbelief is as much a choice as belief" (Buechner...courtesy of Rick's old emails), then wouldn't not voting be just as much a choice (of who becomes president) as voting?

james said...

I think he may have been saying "none of the above" as in neither of the 2 leading contenders.

Rick said...

Good debate...

a few comments

1) It is not apathy to make a conscience decision to refrain from voting. Apathy would connote not caring enough. Noll actually cares enough not to vote. It can be see as a)an act of civil disobedience 2)a feeling of being unable to make a good decision 3)seeing that there is no "lesser of 2 evils" here.

2) I felt the same in 2000. under no circumstances did I want either man to lead my country. I caste by vote of civil protest for Nader. I might recommend him walking into a booth and casting a write in for NEITHER to show he is not apathetic (ala James suggestion).

3) I would rather him not vote if he feels unable to make a good choice. In fact, I do not want every American to vote, especially every Christian. If one does not look at many issues and get themselves very informed, they should not vote. If they only watch TV they should not vote. If they listen to Talk Radio only they should not vote. I could go on.

4)In any other situation than what Bush has done to our country I may not vote for either candidate. I have made a steady refusal to vote for the "lesser of 2 evils" as a practice. However, this year I happen to feel 1 has put our country in such peril, I have no choice.

5) Since I feel very strongly that the way we elect presidents in America is so poor, I sympathize. I feel neither Party is even close to representing me. I feel both parties spend more time demonizing the opponents and playing dirty. I have made a steady refusal to vote for any candidate that claims Christianity but plays dirty (under no circumstance I can think of would I vote for such a person). I also believe the 2 Party system of the USA is such a travesty of democracy that I refuse to support it, as a matter of conviction.

6)Sadly, Craig (re; the Beuchner quote) that is not true in America unless you live in a swing state. In MA or TX your vote does not count or matter for electing the President, so you do not decide by not voting (unless you live in FL- which is why I am voting for a major party candidate- against my convictions).

7) I think we have a right to complain about the direction of a country even if we do not vote. Why? a)our vote may not make a difference, b)if we feel the choice is so poor, we can see that neither direction is proper- so we will hate the way the country is headed if either candidate wins. Prophets would do this.

I will complain about the direction of the nation no matter what! I think a candidate who actively votes for Partial Birth Abortion and is in bed with Planned Parenthood is repulsive. I will be saddened and complain about his choice for Supreme Cpurt Justices based upon a litmus test. There are many other things I will bitch and moan about with Kerry. If Bush wins, I will continue the same amount of complaining I presently do (and ramp it up when he steps up the war and invades Iran).

DLW said...

I wrote my own commentary on Noll's post at my blog.

I think we do need to work towards a viable third-party system in the US, but that the green-party and Nader are going about it the wrong way. First we need to work towards a detente in the cultural wars in our country and then it will be easier for more issues to get more play and for third-parties to build toe-holds in different parts of the country.


kidpositive said...

Now I remember why I didn't reply to this sooner... you put up 7 points!!! I don't have time to respond to 7 freakin' points! :)

Now this means I have to open up two IE windows, one for me to comment and another for your blog so I can read what you wrote.

So this is how I view it:
Voting is every American citizen's "voice", albeit a small one, about how this country is run. I realize that the electoral college system of voting in the presidential election is extremely flawed, but I still consider my vote and every other person's vote to be their voice within the political system. In my opinion, when you don't vote, you're not saying anything. And if you're not saying anything, then that's apathy.

Now, there are many other options on the ballot than the two main candidates. So, why not cast a vote of civil protest for another candidate, like Rick did in 2000? Or write in NEITHER. Or do something else on the ballot. But that's the key to me: do something. I'm not saying that you have to choose between the two candidates. But, I do think that if you make a big enough deal to write an article about values, then try hard enough to find some way to be active about your voice in the political system.

"In fact, I do not want every American to vote, especially every Christian." This, in effect, is why the founding fathers, at least to my understanding, invented the electoral college. They basically didn't trust the people enough to choose by direct election. Now, I have to disagree with your comment, because I believe (idealistically at least, because I pray a lot of Christians in Texas won't vote) that every person with a right to vote should. There are millions of people in other countries that don't have this right. In fact, democracy is exactly what Bush wants to spread to other countries. A bit ironic that a country where under 50% of the eligible electorate actually go to the polls is trying to spread democracy throughout the world.

Most people agree that the two-party system is deeply flawed. So, DO SOMETHING! That's why I think a vote for Nader in 2000 actually said something. That's one more vote that will go down for him, regardless of how bad he loses.

And regarding the Buechner quote, when you choose not to vote, you're choosing not to choose who will become president, regardless of what state you live in. In 2005, I will be able to say "I chose John Kerry", instead of "I didn't choose". When you don't vote, you don't choose. This point is more of a conceptual point to me.

Let me put it this way: I am voting in Texas this year. My vote "won't count" for all practical purposes. Still, however, I think it's extremely important that I vote, because it's my small part of having a voice. To not vote because "my vote won't matter" is, to me, a load of crap. It's a right I have that others in this world don't. And even if it doesn't make that much of a difference, it still is a voice that will be heard (the Texas popular vote for Kerry will have one more tally because of me).

My point: complain all you want, but at least do SOMETHING when it comes around to election time. Vote Third Party. Write in Jesus. Whatever. But just don't choose to be silent, when you really do care about what direction this country is headed in.

DLW said...

I think it is more important than voting for a third party candidate to act to make our democracy more competitive so that third parties can provide more influence on elections.

Making our democracy more competitive may mean keeping the Republicans from controlling both the WH and the Senate/House of Reps and voting strategically for Kerry.

I myself am a MN Indepence Party member of the Tim Penny, not Jesse Ventura, variety. I think third party activism is best focused at the local level and should focus on getting a toe-hold on power or much greater voice that can be more sustainable and work towards changing the rules of the game to better reward successful third party candidates that garnish a decent percentage of the vote.

I think if reasonable compromises are advocated on cultural war issues that these can be kept from be too significant in our elections, which will make it easier for third parties to gain more influence in the US polity.