Unlike monarchy, or fascism, or a dictatorship, democracy opens up the doors of politics to reveal a world of ethical choices for the everyday citizen.
Daily life is full of choices large and small, from should I look for a new job? to how should I react to the slow driver in front of me? Democracy opens up a few more: Who do I follow? Who do I dislike? What kind of nation do I want this to be?
Elsewhere, these questions are usually the domain of a ruling elite. In democracy, you and I and every other citizen get the chance, however small, to shift the levers of government.
However, it’s important to remember that your vote is merely one ethical choice in your day.
For all the shouting and fighting and posturing that American media pours into politics, you are still responsible for you today. Whether your favored candidate wins or loses, it’s up to you to not be an asshole. Your everyday choices are moment-by-moment votes about the kind of person you want to be, and the kind of nation you want to live in.
Do this, do that, do nothing: these are all tiny choices that sculpt you (and your country) a little bit each day.
As a Christian, I also need to remind myself that my faith is apolitical. Jesus Christ is neither Republican or Democrat, and frankly I believe he alternates between tears and laughter at both parties.
Whether we get President Clinton or President Trump, Scripture tells me the same thing:
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:26-27)
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed.” (Isaiah 1:17)
“The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, ‘Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble. He will keep you safe.’” (Isaiah 8:11-14)
These, and many other verses, tell me that I must still do what is right regardless of situation, even if my government is as broken as it was for Jesus and the Old Testament prophets.
So, if you’re an American citizen, vote for the national and local candidates of your choice. Make the wisest decisions you can.
Then, go vote with the rest of your day too.
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