To Vote, or to Not Vote (that is the real question….)

October 23rd, 2010 Comments

VoteThe more I think about it, the more I am inclined to NOT vote.  I’ve not settled on an opinion yet, I’m just thinking through this.  Bear with me, while I process this for a few minutes – then, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Those that know me, know that I’m a raging moderate.  My friends on the Left think I am very conservative.  My friends on the Right, well, they think of me as being very liberal.  The reality is, I’m neither.  I tend to pick and choose issues as they come along.  I don’t align with any political party.  I align myself with Kingdom principles: compassion, love, simplicity, transparency, accountability, and obedience to Truth.  If anyone, any party, or any organization – Left, or Right – is opposed to the purity of Truth, I will speak up against it.

Unfortunately, our society has become so polarized, that it is virtually impossible to have a civil discourse about anything.  There is a considerable lack of tolerance, trust, and respect in the greater arena of thought.  No matter which party gains the upper hand this coming November, the losing party will do everything in their power to stop any new policies from being enacted.  We have brought our government to its knees by bureaucracy, debate, the media, and litigious approaches to everything.  It’s really sad – really…

Unfortunately, our society has become so polarized, that it is virtually impossible to have a civil discourse about anything

Why should I vote?  If one is not aligned with a political party, it is virtually impossible to raise the money necessary to get elected. And if by some miracle, they are elected, all of their efforts will be killed by a system that values cooperation over progress.  For example, if someone came up with an idea to save millions of lives every year, or to balance the budget, or to end homelessness (to name a few abstract examples), the “system” would shut it down and it would never survive the committee process.

I’m fed up with this.  But, as I’ve mentioned before, the Serenity Prayer offers me a path out of my frustration.  I can’t control or fix the bureaucracy, so I ask God to grant me the serenity to leave it alone.  My vote?  At this point you’re thinking, but your vote counts.  I disagree.  When I vote, I’m voting for the lesser of two (or more) evils.  I end up voting for someone that I would never choose to lead me – especially if they were the only one on the ballot.  I tend to choose that candidate because I think they will do the least amount of harm.  But rarely do I agree with their motives, principles, or values.

I want someone in leadership who puts integrity above electability, but by that person could never get elected, therefore they don’t enter the race, and we, the public are cheated. I want someone who puts compassion ahead of power, but again, that person could never get elected – because our society values power, charisma, and cunning.  I want someone who is transparent, but because we have all made mistakes, uttered stupid things, and followed whims that were better left untouched – a transparent individual would be exposed for being flawed – and our culture doesn’t want flawed leaders.

Stream of Consciousness

So, as I look over the Oregon Voter’s Pamphlet.  I actually don’t see many choices.  There is an old friend who is running for county commissioner.  He’s a good guy, he was a great paramedic, and I like him.  But I don’t know anything about what he desires for the county – let alone his personal values.

One of the men running for mayor in our town, is a good guy.  He’s a professional firefighter locally, he’s well liked by his crew, and in the few conversations I’ve had with him, I’ve been impressed by him as a person.  But, what do I really know about him?  Will he help me enforce the speed limit on the road outside my house?  Will he help me change the ordinance to allow me to raise a few chickens?  More importantly, what are his personal beliefs, values, and visions?

I might vote yay, or nay, on a couple of initiatives or other proposals, but to vote for a man or woman whom I don’t agree with, well that’s another matter altogether. Voting for the lesser of evils just isn’t good enough anymore.  Voting for someone, who probably can’t make a real difference – well, what’s the point.  Worse, voting for someone, simply because they are less evil than someone else – well, that means they are still evil.  Right!?

I was talking with someone the other day, trying to express my frustration over the polarization of our society.  I said something about “The Left” and “The Right.”  His reply floored me.  He said there is no “Right” in our system – “only the Left and the Far Left!”  I didn’t know what to say.

When I cast my vote for someone, put their bumper sticker on my car, their sign in my yard, or a “like” on Facebook, I’m saying I agree with this person and I want them to lead me.  I can’t change the system, so why should I stress and try?  About the only thing I have control over in my life, is what color socks I’m going to wear today – everything else is subject to laws, rules, ordinances, my employer, or my wife’s desires.

More importantly, what are their personal beliefs, values, and visions?

For me, the path to serenity is in not getting frustrated by things I can’t change. And I doubt I can change the laws, debt, or failure of the American Empire by my vote – yay, or nay.  I can affect how my children are raised, whether or not my family is in debt, or whether I grow spiritually, or not.  These are the things I choose to invest in – not the political fortunes of political parties and candidates that are bent on polarizing the country I love.

And my final point: Why would I want to offend someone who doesn’t agree with my political preference?  Jesus didn’t involve himself in political issues, why should I?

NOTE: I actually tried being transparent when I moved to Oregon.  I admitted my discouragement, my pain, my failures, and even my weaknesses.  I was in a bad place, but there was no room for a broken leader.  This is a recipe for rejection in our current culture.  It’s why Jesus was rejected by the Jews.  They wanted a charismatic leader to rescue them, not a man of sorrows who was willing to die a pitiful, disgraceful death on a cross.


  1. I tend to be the same way – neither conservative nor liberal. I struggle with the same issues (for people running for office). On the other hand, that’s the first 1/2 the voting ballot. I fill out the rest of the ballot. Sadly, you really have to read into the issues and filter through the lens that description booklet is written through. “Want a tax break?” Never mind where the money will otherwise come from!

    1. gwalter says:

      You’re right Shelly!

      1. I don’t think I should vote when I don’t know how I’m impacting the hierarchy above us. I’d hate to find out later I encouraged someone who acted against my beliefs. Not sure how that affects the voting situation (if at all), but that’s really why I can’t bring myself to vote for people. Above all – they all seem to have impossible tasks placed in front of them. Don’t think I could do a better job or anything though!

        1. gwalter says:

          Impossible is right. And the “other” side makes or even more impossible. Where’s the cooperation?

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gary Walter and stevenguymcdade, Gary Walter. Gary Walter said: New Post: To Vote, or to Not Vote (that is the real question….) #daddytude […]

  3. Brent Logan says:

    Your vote is one of your opportunities to make a difference, whether it’s voting for the lesser of two evils, or divided government, or even writing in the name of someone you think is best for the position. If you don’t vote, please don’t complain about the results.also…

    1. gwalter says:

      I agree, on many levels Brent – I have never complained about the results, even when I do vote. I’m just tired of the deadlock.

  4. gwalter says:

    See, that’s my point Mark – “they” already have the power – why bother. I choose, “none of the above.”

    1. Mark Merizan says:

      But… they have the power because many others have also given up and handed it over to them. “Don’t curse the darkness, light a candle.” Voting for SOMEONE, even if it is a third party candidate is one small “act of defiance” that we can do to not let our voices be completely silenced.

  5. gwalter says:

    If I vote for the lesser of two evils – I’m still choosing evil. If there is someone who jumps out, who I think believe can really make a difference, I will vote for them. However, for the most part, I’m affirming someone whose morals and values I do not agree with. I can’t, in good conscience vote for that person.

    Voting for a third party candidate is not a good option either. 10 years ago, those who voted for Ralph Nader are the ones who helped put Bush in office. So, that doesn’t work either.

    And then here’s the irony, that I mentioned in my post; if a third party, morally acceptable candidate were to get elected, there is very little they can do, without the support of the two parties.

    Ugh. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Why is this called a choice?

    1. Brent Logan says:

      Not voting is the functional equivalent of voting for the third party candidate. If you don’t want to be partly responsible for putting the most evil candidate in office, vote for the lesser of two evils.

      1. gwalter says:

        What do you do with statements such as these?

        ‎”The Lord would have His people bury political questions. On these themes silence is eloquence. Christ calls upon His followers to come into unity on the pure gospel principles which are plainly revealed in the word of God. We cannot with safety vote for political parties; for we do not know whom we are voting for. We cannot with safety take part in any political schemes.” ~EGW, FE 475

  6. Renee Hernandez says:

    I believe voting is very important!! I vote so that I can express my support for those who support the ideals of Christian love..freedom,charity..taking care of others,liberty, separation of church & state. I vote so that I may contribute to allowing freedom to prevail in this US so the gospel of Jesus Christ may be proclaimed.

  7. Eric says:

    For most of my adult life, I’ve gone straight republican just because they shared similar ideals to what I had. But the past few years, I’ve noticed good and bad things on both sides. Will I still vote, yes. Will there be positions I don’t cast a vote for at all?? Maybe. I wish there was a fill in the blank reason why you voted the way you did on the ballots.. They would get a better idea of what we as the people want anyways.

    great post. keep the faith.

    1. gwalter says:

      Thanks Eric! I’m mostly in the same camp – I’ll vote for some, not vote for others.

      I’ve always thought there should be a “None of the Above” option. If that option got more votes than the candidates above, then those candidates would not win and we would re-vote in 6-12 months with completely new candidates.

      Initially this would create chaos and confusion when spots were left unfilled, but after about three rounds of “None of the Above,” we would start to attract candidates that weren’t just electable, but also acceptable. Now this is a third option I can support!

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