I was sitting at my desk the other day, filling out my absentee ballot, when these words came to mind. It was a strange moment, and I became uncomfortably aware of the weight of the pen in my hand and the worth of the little black oval on the page.
With a little ink, I was participating in the decision-making of my own country, a privilege that many people around the world don’t have. We live in America, where citizens have the freedom to vote. And only around 60% do.
This percentage should be much higher, especially among faithful Catholics who recognize the dignity of the human person. Voting matters because you matter as a free person.
I know this is much easier to see during presidential elections and not when it’s “just midterms.” It’s easy to think that midterm elections don’t matter, but I believe that they are equally important, though in different ways.
You never know how influential your midterm vote may be. For example, I am from Georgia, and who could have foreseen just how important the 1962 midterm would be?
1962 was the year that Jimmy Carter began his political career in the Georgia State Senate. Fourteen years later, he became president, and it was in his presidential campaign that the word “abortion” first appeared in the Democrat platform, its usage increasing ever since.
So, midterms are mostly local elections, sometimes with Congressional elections mixed in, but even these local elections matter because they’re stepping stones to more powerful positions.
I have heard many reasons for why people don’t vote, but I have yet to hear a good one.
“I don’t like any of the candidates.” “I don’t know enough about them.” “I don’t have time, and my vote doesn’t matter anyway.”
Well, if there really aren’t any “good” candidates, we are morally obliged to vote for the lesser of evils. If we can’t vote for someone who will be a strong voice for truth, we must at least keep the person out of office who will move our country furthest from the truth.
If you don’t know enough about a candidate, make a little time to do some research. It’s really not hard; the candidates’ websites spell out their opinions on the issues. Also, generally, between a Republican, Democrat and Libertarian, the only platform that stands for life is Republican.
Voting is not just about making an impact with every ballot cast; it is about conscience.
Even if I’m in a state where I’m outnumbered and I feel like my vote doesn’t matter, is it really right of me to sit around complaining about the state of things when I haven’t exerted the little effort to cast a ballot?
Even when my vote “doesn’t matter,” God knows.
He knows when I jump on the bandwagon. He knows when I go along with something, taking the easy way out, because I “don’t have time” to put in work. He knows when I prioritize a lesser good over something which can bring about a greater good, like voting.
But he also knows when I stand up and vote for the candidate closest to the good, even when my vote doesn’t matter in the eyes of the world. He knows, and he cares, and I cannot sit here and do nothing.
And I hope you won’t either.
One day, we will each stand before God, totally exposed. He will have seen every little thing we have done in our lives, and whenever I think about this, I can just hear him saying, “What have you done for my little ones?”
What have I done? I have been given so much. And so much will be required.
Voting to advocate for the truth is not the most we should do, but the least we can do. Every one of us ought to vote because it is something we can so easily do to at least try to move our country toward God. It is not a mistake that he put you in America today and entrusted you with the power of voting.
You can do good with this power and advocate for the Good through your vote, or you can let it go to waste like the servant in Luke’s Gospel who “knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will” (12:47).
Your vote matters. When you are standing before God, I doubt he will berate you for getting a C on an assignment for school. But he does care about how you live your life. It is not enough to say you are Catholic if you do not show it in your actions.
You have a right to vote, so don’t let anyone take this right away from you, not even yourself.