It’s quite possible that I have “voted my values” in the past. With primary and mid-term elections coming up, I’ve been thinking about what drives me to vote the way I do, and what I’m voting for, not just what I’m voting against (which is a lot these days I’m afraid).
I came up with five values, all go together. Imagine 5 fingers clenched in a raised fist, or a high-5, or a handshake.
1: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus said this.* I come from a long line of evangelical Christians and though I don’t church much anymore, I do pray, but mostly when I’m desperate, and I still think the teachings of Jesus are profound. A theological discourse on “God” and “only one God” and all that is not the point here. I’ll vote for an Agnostic, an Atheist, a Baptist, a Buddhist, a Catholic, a Daoist (or Taoist), a Gentile, a Hindu, a Jew, a Mormon, a Muslim, a Sikh, or a perfectly zen Zen.
As long as they believe in loving their neighbor. And as long as they act on it.
(And “neighbor” is not literally just Mr. Jones who lives next door to you. That’s very important.)
2: We all do better when we all do better.
Paul Wellstone said this. There is a lot packed into this simple but powerful statement. I may be doing fine, but I’ll do better if everyone around me is doing fine too. It makes for a more civilized, happier, safer world.
Basically, it’s not all about me.
I can and should care about children even though I don’t have them, I can and should care about old people even though I’m not old (though I’m getting there), I can and should care about immigrants even though I’m not an immigrant, etc. You get the point.
I’ll vote for those who are enthusiastically and joyfully** in the business of making people’s lives better (politicians like Al Franken and Erin Murphy). All people. That’s it. If that’s not their goal, I’m not voting for them.
3: Don’t be an ass. Be a bad-ass.
Words matter. Integrity counts. Telling the truth matters, which is why we teach our kids about honesty, and why we get pissed off when people lie to us. Facts (as in science and whatever else) matter. Not every politician is a liar and a crook, and I plan to vote for the ones who are not.
Politicians should scream loudly when other politicians or the media lie. They should fight for what’s right. I get that we have a government that works best when compromise happens, but there is also a time for loudly standing up against injustice, for our values, for those who are hurting, for our institutions, laws, and for humanity. Be a bad-ass. We need more Auntie Maxines.
4: Let’s be smart
I said this one (clever, huh?). I like smart people, and I try to be smart myself. There’s a reason we provide free public education to every child. The world is complicated, there are hard problems to solve, and we need smart and thoughtful people to tackle them. But we need to do better. Schools are underfunded. Young people are drowning in student debt. Climate change is real, yet we are having to fight the lying climate change deniers (See #3). Astonishingly, some people are even proud of their ignorance. We don’t all have to be Einsteins, but I will vote for leaders who think, consider, assess, analyze, ask questions, collaborate, and listen. All to make people’s lives better (See #2)
5: I’m a patriot (too)***
Holding up the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is more important now than ever. In the past this wouldn’t even have been on the list. It would have been a “duh, yeah of course elected officials uphold the Constitution, whatever.” World changed.
Government is not the enemy. I’m sure you’ve noticed that all civilized societies have well-functioning governments, and those governments are instruments in making people’s lives better (See #2, again).
The press is not the enemy. And we need a free press, especially now. Actually, we always have, which is why the founders gave us the First Amendment.
Protesters are not the enemy. I’ve been to more protests in the past 18 months than I have in my whole life. I’ve been louder and angrier (admittedly in my quiet and Midwestern low-key kinda way). I am now personally invested in free speech and the right to protest. These rights are under attack. Anyone I vote for should be able to withstand having a few tomatoes thrown at them (not actual tomatoes, that would contradict #3), and should stand up for my right to throw those not-actual tomatoes. Politicians who lash out and punish people or the media who speak out against them aren’t upholding the Constitution, and they are dangers to our democracy. Those I cross off the list.
I believe in freedom of religion, all religions, and freedom from religion, which includes separation of church and state. The people I vote for should not impose their religion on me, unless their religion requires them to love their neighbor (which all major religions do, by the way, as well as most non-religious people too, by the way) (see #1).
“Law and order” is not just cops and robbers, it applies to how we run our government. Evil geniuses who masquerade as government leaders and change the rules to suit their purpose, no thanks. Taking seriously our laws, agreements, treaties, institutions, and processes is part of being a person with integrity (see #3). We don’t elect kings or queens or dictators or autocrats, or corporations or Russians. We elect representatives. Representatives who protect and defend.
And there you have my roadmap for voting.
But there is more to it, of course – there are issues, and candidates, and more about the bad stuff that’s happening, but I wanted to leave room for my next rant. Stay tuned.
#voteblue #politicsofjoy #resist
*Mark 28-31: 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] There is no commandment greater than these.”
*** Bob Dylan said “They say that patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and then they make you king.” My patriotism is not that, it’s about caring enough to save our country, so I’m taking patriotism back.
©Rebecca Larson 2018