Episode 70 – Election Day
It’s finally here! It’s Election Day. After what feels like the longest year of our lives, the campaign season is over. While voting and elections are still fresh in our minds, now’s as good a time as any to reflect on the voting process. Yes, you may have already voted, but the act of voting is about so much more than checking a box once every four years. It’s about the life-long process of becoming the sort of people fit to live in a free republic. It’s easy to get tripped up right out of the gate if you’re fuzzy on the purpose for voting in the first place. As citizens of a constitutional republic, one of the ways in which we “participate” in governing ourselves is by electing representatives to—literally—represent us. We are far too encumbered with our own busy lives to fully take the time to understand the nuances of tax policy, foreign diplomacy, or a myriad of other issues. Therefore, we rely on others to fully immerse themselves in these issues in a manner that best represents our interests and values. Perhaps this sounds so pedantic or straightforward you find it odd to even mention it. But it is quite easy for other competing notions of the purpose of voting to swim about in our heads and, unless we take the time to think them through, we may fall victim to these subconscious biases. It is quite easy for us to quickly turn the idea that we are voting on people to represent our interests and values in a political sense to a broader notion of representation. We may come to believe it is important that we be able to “relate” to the person we vote for, or that we need to find them more likeable than their opponents. The purpose of voting is to communicate our values, ideas, and concerns, not to make a political statement. It’s to find leaders who will represent our interests and protect our rights, not to express our anger at political frustrations. Voting should not be viewed as the central duty of fulfilling one’s civic responsibilities when called upon, but one of the many ways we perform our civic duty. Serving in the military, paying your taxes, voting in elections, and obeying the speed limit fall under the rubric of civic duty; but so too does educating yourself, honest dealings in business, staying true to your personal commitments, and flossing your teeth. Part of what it means to participate in a society of self-governance is to govern oneself. That does not mean we must be perfect, but it does mean that we create a greater need for governmental intervention each time we fail to govern our own affairs. It also does not mean who we vote for is unimportant, but it does mean how we conduct ourselves in our personal and professional relationships is far more important to the health of our nation. A nation is no greater than the sum of the individuals and sub-groups within the nation.