Every two years as the elections roll around the topic of voting surfaces. The importance or lack thereof when it comes to voting is always hotly debated. There are countless views on this subject, but no real consensus. Some of the most prevailing viewpoints are that voting is essential to our Republic and anyone who refuses to vote is a bad American; voting for the lesser of two evils is always immoral; and voting is useless because all politicians are corrupt. Voting is an extremely passionate and confusing topic for many people, but let’s try and look at some objective truths.
The first argument that voting is essential to being a good American does not seem to be unequivocally true. Voting is certainly a very important part of being an American, but there is no requirement that every able American vote in every single election. Voting is a mechanism for fighting evil and promoting goodness. If there is an election between two good candidates for any political office, Americans have no obligation to vote. There would be no evil to fight against, and thus no vote would be required to make one a good citizen. Conversely, if there are two evil candidates for a political office, there is also no obligation to vote. The only circumstance when neglecting to vote would make a citizen a bad American is when there is a choice between good and evil. All people have the obligation to fight evil and promote goodness, and voting is one of the most powerful methods to do this. Only if one refuses to fight evil and promote goodness with his vote is he a bad American.
Another common argument is that voting for the lesser of two evils is always immoral. This is true, but it requires a caveat. Evil can be an extremely relevant term in this situation. There is no black and white here. What one person considers an evil politician or policy, another person could vote for with a clear conscience. Votes for policies which are against Natural Law are always immoral. Votes for politicians, however, are different. America will never have a candidate for any political office who is perfect on every single political position. No matter who we have running for our offices, Americans will always be voting for someone who has some evil in them. The only question, then, is where do we draw the line? What makes a candidate too evil to vote for? The answer depends on each individual conscience. If someone researches a candidate and decides that they believe the candidate will be good for our country, there has been no wrong done. The only time one can be faulted is when they vote for a candidate who they know will not be good for America, simply because the other candidate would be worse. There is never an excuse for supporting evil.
The argument concerning voting that I find to be the most intriguing is that voting is useless because all politicians are corrupt. I recently saw a bumper sticker that perfectly summed up this attitude: “Don’t vote–it only encourages them.” I can fully understand this mindset of frustration with politicians, and I even find myself somewhat sympathetic to the idea. But the problem with this ideology is that it is rooted in pessimism. True, most politicians are corrupt and evil, but there are still some good politicians out there and also some good policies that do appear on ballots. Pessimists will never see these good politicians or policies because they will be too busy picking apart the tiniest faults and flaws. Occasionally refraining from voting in certain elections because there is no substantial fight against evil nor promotion of goodness is permissible, but to have the mindset of never voting because everyone is corrupt is simply wrong.
One of the most important things to know about voting is that it is intrinsically good. Forcing our government to listen to the will of the people is the only way our country will survive, and voting is the most direct way of accomplishing this. Something interesting to consider in regards to voting is that as long as one does not purposely support evil with his vote, their are no possible negative results from voting. There can only be good results. Even if one makes the wrong choice, the government is still being subjected to the will of the people, and voters are being engaged citizens by taking part in the forming of their government. The more citizens that take part in matters of government, and the more government is forced to abide by the people’s wishes, the better our country will be.
The way things stand now, America is in desperate need of engaged citizens who will vote for good and fight evil. The need for voters now is greater than ever. When Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s, he met the governor of New York and described him as someone who was not very smart and essentially just a nobody. Alexis was puzzled as to why such a man would be elected for governor, but he quickly found out the answer. Politicians made very little money for one thing, but most importantly, Americans simply didn’t care about politics. They were too busy focusing on business, education, and improving their quality of life. Politics and government were all but non-existent in 1830s America. This is the way things should always be. If this were the case, voting would never even need to be a very big deal. The problems started when we all began believing that everything in our lives revolves around government. Government has fed off the power we gave them and is now desperate for more. This is why voting is so essential today. Not because we need government to better our lives, but because we need government to stay out of our lives. Every vote should be to lessen the scope of government so that we can return to the America that Alexis de Tocqueville knew and loved. This is perhaps the only guiding principle Americans need when it comes to voting.