The author Robert Heinlein once wrote, “When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you’re using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived.”
There has been a transformation in our society where this seems to be truer now than when Heinlein wrote it. What may be depressing is that it means that democracy is in many ways no better than any political system. Humanity, through politics, shows its selfishness.
During the last presidential election (and probably during this one, as well), there will be people proclaiming that one person or political party is better than the other (especially in regards to the multi-sided political scene that has been forcibly trimmed into 2-sided). They will judge and condemn those that appear to support the other, even if that decision is the perceived lesser of two evils.
There will be those that will choose a different political party (there are more than 2). There will be those that will not vote. It is the latter that provides the greatest insight into ourselves.
They are those that believe that a vote is just as much Caesar’s as was the denarius. This is the darkness of politics and even a republic such as the US. Heinlein’s comments may sound harsh. If one compares it to people’s reaction when the “wrong” party gets power, we can see that we subconsciously understand the reality of power.
Jesus’ concerns regarding power are not small. There is a very valid reason why many over the years have claimed that the church was corrupted when Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity and then made it the official religion of the realm.
On the other hand, if you have a glass of water and do not hand it to a person dying of thirst, what kind of Christian are you? This is the debate that is truly at the heart of being a Christian in a democracy or republic.
Voting is power. Sometimes it feels as if it not. However, if all are of one mind it is indeed quite powerful. Power to coerce is the power of violence. This is not what we are called to do.
On the other hand, the power to vote is also a responsibility to care for our fellow citizens, and to put a voice to guide the path the country walks. This is the voice and path that can find justice, compassion, and mercy for the least, the last, and the lost.
Jesus, as we look to you for guidance in these trying times, may your servant’s heart guide our decisions. Amen.