Editorial: Election Day, Rallies, and the Death of Secret Ballots / by Michael Nichols

I hate politics. I really do, but alas, here I am, feeling a need to talk about them.

Of all things for society to hate, along with the discussion of religion, we had danged well better be talking about them. Living in the democratic republic in which we do, it is our responsibility to take seriously the role we stole back from the king of England in the 18th century.

To gawk at voting, rigged or not, is to shirk responsibility. If you have the power to change something bad or preserve something good, but do nothing, you are as guilty, if not more guilty, than he who executes injustice. I hate to judge, and I don't mean to do so, but we need a sense of urgency to execute justice, now more than ever. Also, note that this is an editorial. These are my thoughts, opinions, and their reasons. So, that being said, let's begin.

(Note: For those of you who read internationally and aren't familiar with how the government of the United States of America is structured, here's the basic gist. Citizens vote to elect people into power with secret ballots. The branches of government are three: executive (the Presidency and his Cabinet), legislative (Congress and Senate, two groups of representatives for each of the States, who vote on laws, passing them to the executive branch to be approved or vetoed), and judicial (meaning the people who interpret the law to judge court cases). Despite the fact that citizens vote for people based on what they're stated policies are, citizens do not directly vote on the laws. This leaves a gaping hole for political hypocrisy and corruption to fester. Those are the basics.)

I hate political yard signs. I despise political yard signs. On my way to work this morning, I passed at least ten signs, spaced no more than ten feet apart, for the same candidate, across from (and probably set up by) the same company. This would not be the only instance. No, every neighborhood I've driven or walked through in the past two or three months has been the same.

I'm also a first-amendment advocate. I like to talk and write and publish and do these things frequently and in large spats. That being said, we have something called "secret ballots," meaning simply that you have no business knowing who I voted for unless I don't mind you knowing. Apparently, a lot of people fall into that category. Fine. That's your business. Personally, I don't care who you vote for--well, I do care if they're a poor choice, and I do care if your choice comes back to bite me, and I really care if my choice comes back to bite me. (Like, "Did I really just vote for that?")

Secret ballots, though, were meant to be secret for a reason. Voting autonomously and anonymously ensures that our mutual desire to execute liberty, though it may be on different terms and by different means, is not threatened by the diverse nature of humanity, not conspired against by its governors. That's why I value my political privacy very much, just as most of us value our digital privacy. That's a whole different topic, but is it really? So much of what we do these days is digital. Not that we should worry about our secrets being divulged (what are we guilty of that requires secrecy?) but what if they were? Whose business is my transaction history? Whose business is it who I talk to or refuse? Who but God should have any say in the words of my conscience?

Speaking of private things becoming public, what is it about our desire to attend political rallies? I mean if yard signs weren't enough, let's go gather a bunch of like-minded people into the same room and listen to a person shout about the things that we want to shout about, then let's shout about them, too! Again, mind you, I love that we have that right, but does it really help? Let me restate. If any of you have received counselling, therapy, or psychiatric help, you will understand. What if all you did when you went to your therapist was yell mutually into the air about problems, then agree on an improbable and impossibly impractical and slow means to end the mutual suffering? How divisive that would be! How little would actually be accomplished! How much hate would we develop for people of opposing views, and how unwilling would we become to talk things out, and give credence to other ideas after thinking through our own and realizing they may not be as merited as they seem. Isn't that political rallying?

But wait...

That's also western church more often than not.

It's great to be able to speak freely about things that matter to you, but how far do we take that freedom, and in what direction? I have seen this so often in churches, and I've only just begun my life. How often do we take the scriptures that talk about a compassionate God and His laws, yet twist them to fit our own destructive worldviews, omitting passages about grace, forgiveness, compassion, unity; why is it so difficult to bend our will to meet His when we know that it's exactly what we need most? Yet we continue to serve ourselves first. Freedom. Is it a blessing or a curse? Or is it better to have the ability to fail and repent rather than to only know goodness, but have no freedom to grow into it? Is that even genuine goodness?

It's great to be able to speak the Gospel. It's great to evangelise. It's great to come together to be as one in the presence of the Lord. It's also great, in a much lesser way, to show support for your ideals and your candidates of choice. We need to know where we stand, and we need to be active in offering our worldview to others; but we also need to be wary that our freedom doesn't become pride, because arrogance alienates, and from alienation comes war, and from war comes destruction. Be willing to fight, but be seekers of peace. When you go voting today, when you go to your next rally or install your next sign, understand exactly what you're doing, and be ready to take the fall for what becomes of what you do. Division and unity is on our shoulders. Do not shirk this responsibility. Do not squander this power.

"He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?"

--Micah, a prophet of the Living God, Micah 6:8