Today during grand jury duty, while waiting for one of the AUSA’s to come down and present their witness, I read the following in G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy”, a book which a good friend gave me for my birthday this year:
To say that voting is particularly Christian may seem somewhat curious. To say that canvassing is Christian may seem quite crazy. But canvassing is very Christian in its primary idea. It is encouraging the humble; it is saying to the modest man, “Friend, go up higher.”
By going up higher, of course, Chesterton is referring to Christ’s words in St. Luke 14:10, describing how one is to adopt a lessened estimation of the self, rather than jockeying for the best position. Thus, Christ’s instruction is that a Christian is to “go, sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee, cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee.”
And so this brings me by something of a surreptitious route, to a roadblock that I have been facing for several months now, and that is: my duty to vote.
It is fair to say that if ever a single vote did not count, that vote would be mine, for I live in the District of Columbia. By my vote not counting, I do not mean in the sense of the nauseatingly self-righteous tone of D.C. license plates, which state “Taxation Without Representation.” Rather, I mean in the sense that, as there is no hope whatsoever of this city ever electing a conservative either to the White House or to city government, my vote really and truly does not count. Anyone who doubts me need only look at the results of the Reagan landslide in 1984, or the present composition of the D.C. City Council.
It is also fair to say that under no circumstances would I vote for Barrack Obama and Joe Biden, even though only a complete fool would think that McCain and any running mate he chooses have the slightest chance of carrying the District of Columbia (did I mention Reagan’s re-election?) So what does this leave me, the voter? It leaves me with the unenviable position of having what may very well be a throw-away vote in this election.
Fortunately, there is no real throw-away vote once one moves outside of the merely temporal. My vote may not be able to do any good whatsoever in this town, but it is important that my vote do no actual harm. I have to do my best to lead by example, and show that I am voting because it is the right thing to do, even if the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Citizenship makes demands on us all, and one of those demands is our participation.
Well, that is seemingly the easy part, Civics 101. However, until today I had convinced myself that I was simply going to stay home and not vote at all, and was very frank about telling people so (though as most people know, I am usually rather frank about many things.) After seeing what is coming if I sit back and allow the Obama-Biden ticket to go unchallenged, I would have to face a hard question at some point, by a Celestial Judge: what did I do, even if the end result did not change anything, to stand up for what is right.
The hard part is, how to bring myself to vote for John McCain. I find his views on embryonic stem cell and fetal tissue research to be appalling. This is particularly because I am of a mind – which in the eyes of some may make me a single issue voter, to which I say, so what – that we as a society cannot truthfully fulfill our obligations to all of our citizens if some of those citizens are considered, from the moment of life itself, to be disposable.
Thus, while I have been able to come to the point of recognizing the importance for me as a Catholic Christian to participate in this upcoming election, this does not mean that I have reached the point where I know whom I will be voting for. Perhaps the fact that my vote will make no difference will cause me to write in a candidate, or vote for a third party. Perhaps I will vote for McCain depending on what happens over the next several weeks, and whom he selects for his running mate. Most importantly, however, I will not be sitting this one out, regardless of the outcome, and I urge others who feel similarly: it is time to stop sitting on the fence.