Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Why Vote in Local Elections?

13 Every person should place themselves under the authority of the government. There isn’t any authority unless it comes from God, and the authorities that are there have been put in place by God.  (Romans 13:1 Common English Bible)

Americans like to complain about the quality of their elected leaders.  "They're all crooks!" "They're all bought and paid for by special interests."  I could go on and on, but you know the story.  The problems with our assessment is that "we the people" are the ones who elect these women and men to be our representatives.  We get the people we vote for -- or don't vote for, if we don't vote.

I began this posting with Romans 13:1.  It's a famous passage of Scripture, wherein Paul tells the Roman church that they should obey the authorities, because God has ordained them for this purpose.  Now the Roman authorities weren't elected to office, but Paul insists that God ordains order and government provides it.  So, if government is ordained, then shouldn't we participate -- after all, "we the people" are the government.

Americans come out in large numbers during Presidential years, but sit home on off years elections, like 2010.  But there are consequences, especially in a year like 2010 when census' determine redistricting across the country.  Republicans came out and voted, Democrats sat home.  Now, for the next 7 years or so, Republicans likely will have advantages in legislative races.  We get what ask for when we don't vote.

Yesterday the city of Troy, which is where I make my home, had a special election for mayor.  We really didn't need the special election, but it was deemed necessary by the state, so we had an election.  With one item to decide, about 15%  of the voters came out -- absentee voters accounted for almost half.  I voted absentee for the first time because I wasn't in town to vote.  I'm relieved that Dane Slater, the current acting mayor was elected to fill the term of the recalled mayor.  So, while I'm glad that the person I supported won, I'm disappointed that so few people chose to come out and vote.

I believe in the necessity of government -- a balance between oversight and freedom.  I believe in democracy. But for a democracy to function, the voter -- the foundation of government in a democracy -- must be informed and willing to expend the time and effort to vote, not just every 4 years, but every election.  

You may not think that a local election is important, but local elections have important consequences.  So, if you believe in the words of Paul, become informed, and vote your conscience!


Rial Hamann said...

A civic duty , if not a religious responsibility.

Rial Hamann said...

A civic duty , if not a religious responsibility.

Rev. Steven F. Kindle said...

Much harm follows when Romans 13 is seen as a universal prescription for all times and places. This has caused much grief, from the so-called divine right of kings, to people suffering under despots. Rather, Paul is offering Roman Christians a way to survive during the short time that he thinks will take place before the return of Christ (certainly in his generation). It's my opinion that had Paul a long view, say two millennia, he never would have given this counsel to the church.

Robert Cornwall said...

while I agree with you on the harm that comes from too literal application of Romans 13, I wanted to use this to remind folks that in a democracy, we're the government, thus we should take the responsibility seriously!!

Rev. Steven F. Kindle said...

Bob, I appreciate your distinction that we are the government (theoretically, of course) here in the U.S., and that we are dropping the ball. I would only support you on that. But since you didn't quibble with Romans 13, I thought I would!