The American political campaign has never been for the squeamish, according to George Weigel in his article What Voting Means. With the sole exceptions of George Washington’s two uncontested elections, every campaign, whether federal, state or local, has seen its share of vulgarity, skullduggery, and personal disparagement.
For the vast majority of American citizens, exercising prudential judgment in politics is not a matter of framing and executing public policy, but of voting. Voting, in other words, is an exercise in moral judgment.
Morally serious voters understand that the character of political parties change over time, and that voting for the Democrats or the Republicans because “that’s what we’ve always done” is outsourcing one’s moral judgment to others.
Voting a straight party line is an abrogation of moral responsibility because the judgement one makes of a party’s candidate for, say president, cannot be applied willy-nilly to that party’s candidate in the House or Senate races, or the governor’s race, or even your local supervisor’s race.
We have an obligation to vote for what is best for our country, our state, or our local communities rather than what is best for a political party. Voting for the right person can change the quality, scope, and type of government we get.
Which brings me to the November election in Virginia. With 140 seats in the General Assembly on the line one political party, which I will not mention, has offered quite a slate of candidates for our consideration.
For the Senate we have several supporters of Hamas; several who voted to reduce sentences for violent felons and child pornographers; several who want to defund the police; another who believes parental rights are “crap” and “stupid”; and one arrested several times for abusing his wife and child.
For the House, we have one candidate who wants the right to murder an unborn child up to the moment of birth; a previous member of the Louisa School Board who voted to withhold reports on sexual assaults in the school system; several Hamas supporters; one who regularly posts lewd sexual content online for money; and another who spent 7 years in federal prison for drug dealing and who has been accused of misappropriation of his clients’ funds.
Given the dishonestly and lack of moral principles many of our elected officials and some of the candidates exhibit, it isn’t hard to make the case that protecting the integrity of government may be something of a lost cause but, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Voting is the first step in returning our country to something we can once again be proud of.
While I would never presume to tell you how to vote on November 7th, I will remind you that voting is an exercise in moral judgment about the immediate and long-term future of Virginia. Voters who think only of themselves, who do not take into account that their vote affects the kind of future their children and grandchildren will inherit, are being politically shortsighted and morally obtuse.
Voting is not a privilege – it is a noble privilege, because it asks each of us to bring our best judgment to bear on matters of grave consequence. The voting booth should be entered into only after serious moral reflection and prayer.