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How To Vote From The
Historic Judeo-Christian Perspective©
Peter A. Lillback, Ph.D.
Our founders established a republic that required the involvement of the people. As Abraham Lincoln concluded hisGettysburg Address, he recognized the vulnerability of our government of the people, by the people, for the people. The living, he said, needed a devotion to that cause for which they [the dead] gave the last full measure of devotion. He declared that the living must highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
Americans are the privileged heirs of the sacrifice and wisdom of our Founders and Patriots. The purpose of this guide is to present practical principles that cannot be ignored if you desire to vote from a historic moral framework. These values cannot be compromised or rejected if you seek to follow the foundational belief in the Judeo-Christian teachings that were so important to our Founding Fathers.
Preparing To Vote: Four Timeless Principles
Our founding document, The Declaration of Independence, gives us four timeless principles that we must acknowledge when electing leaders for our nation:
1. We must reflect the "laws of nature" and the "laws. . .of Nature’s God" in our political activities: When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.Voting in America is Both a Right and a Duty
Samuel Adams, the sparkplug of American independence, wrote, Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual—or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.
The precious and fragile gift of our American form of government was captured in a remark that Benjamin Franklinmade. As he left the Constitutional Convention that met at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, a woman asked him "What kind of government have you given us?" Franklin answered, "A republic, if you can keep it!"
Our republic, the rule of representatives elected by the American people, is threatened whenever voters become uninvolved. Did you know that according to a recent study, only 60% of Christians in America are registered to vote? And sadly, a significant percentage of those who are registered did not vote in the last election. What can we do to reverse this dangerous trend?
We must heed the warning of Franklin D Roosevelt, our 32nd President: Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter put it this way, In a democracy, the highest office is the office of citizen.
Seven Principles to Consider when Choosing Our National Leaders:
To assist us all in our highly charged political environment, consider these principles that reflect the founding wisdom of our greatest Americans.
1. Voting is a Sacred Responsibility.Why Your Vote Matters
1. Your Vote Advances the Two Great Commandments When it is Consciously Moral. When a vote is cast to reflect God’s moral principles, we are loving God and our neighbor. Edmund Burke once declared, All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
2. Your vote is the ultimate check and balance on our Government. The alternatives are clear: voting or tyranny. John Adams, the second President of the U.S. explained, We electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands: we have a check upon two branches of the legislature.
3. Your Vote is a Witness to Your Conscience: Even if your moral vote is defeated by the false arguments of popular secularism, you have witnessed to the truth of your conscience and you have preserved your right to continue to speak for moral change. John Hancock, whose signature dominates the Declaration of Independence, gives this challenge, I conjure you, by all that is dear, by all that is honorable, by all that is sacred, not only that ye pray but that ye act.
4. Your Vote is Needed to Preserve our Liberty for Future Generations: Our Founding Fathers wrote in theJournal of the Continental Congress, 1774, It is an indispensable duty which we owe to God, our country, ourselves and posterity, by all lawful ways and means in our power to maintain, defend and preserve these civil and religious rights and liberties for which many of our fathers fought, bled and died, and to hand them down entire to future generations.
How to Determine a Candidate’s Position
1. Make a point to stay tuned to newspapers, radio and television, recognizing that each media has its own particular bias. Seek out direct quotations from the candidates themselves.
2. You have every right to contact a candidate directly through phone, mail or email. Most candidates welcome this contact and are happy to provide materials on their positions on various issues.
Some Don’ts of Voting:
1. Don’t vote simply on your party affiliation.
2. Don’t vote based on appearances – looks can be deceiving. Look at the candidate’s values, not the outward appearance.
3. Don’t vote based on a candidate’s claim that he/she is a "religious Christian" or a "believer". These terms have come to mean many different things to many different people. Only actions truly determine a person’s view.
4. Don’t vote based on lesser important issues – make sure your candidate will get it right on the big issues.
5. Don’t vote only for your own self-interest. Consider the greater good for future generations of Americans.
Some Do’s of Voting
1. Do know how each candidate stands on the Seven Principles.
2. Do rank candidates according to their stance on the Seven Principles.
3. Do support candidates that do not contradict these Principles
4. Do choose the candidate least likely to do harm, if all candidates oppose one or more of the Seven Principles.
5. Do remember that your vote today, even if cast for lesser offices, may determine future higher offices that will be held by that candidate.
6. When there is no acceptable candidate, Do vote for the one least likely to put into place legislation contrary to the Seven Principles.
7. Do listen to your Conscience. It was put there by God as an alarm system. If you keep your mind informed, your conscience will be a valuable tool in the voting booth. A well informed and trained mind will never lead you away from the historic Judeo-Christian moral teachings given by God.
Every Four Years Powerful People Elect Powerful Presidents
The American President is one of the most powerful men on earth. Our first President under the U.S. Constitution understood that the system of government created by the Constitutional Assembly gave great powers to the nation’s leaders.
He also knew such power was dangerous. An overly powerful government could re-create another tyranny over the citizens of the new nation. The founders’ solution was to create a constitution with defined powers limited by checks and balances. George Washington wrote to Marquis de Lafayette on February 7, 1788:
It will at least be a recommendation to the proposed Constitution that it is provided with more checks and barriers against the introduction of Tyranny, and those of a nature less liable to be surmounted, than any Government hitherto instituted among mortals….
Washington called these two concepts – the vast but delegated power of government and the regular return of governmental power to the people – "pivots" that give motion to the entire constitution. In the same letter to Lafayette,Washington says,
With regard to the two great points (the pivots upon which the whole machine must move,) my Creed is simply,
1st. That the general Government is not invested with more Powers than are indispensably necessary to perform the functions of a good Government;
2ly. That these Powers (as the appointment of all Rulers will forever arise from, and, at short stated intervals, recur to the free suffrage of the People) are so distributed among the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, into which the general Government is arranged, that it can never be in danger of degenerating… so long as there shall remain any virtue in the body of the People.
If we take Washington’s "wheel" metaphor seriously, we as individual citizens have a powerful motivation to be involved in the electoral process. Clearly government is not remiss in exercising its wheel of power. That "pivot" or "wheel" functions like a well-oiled machine. But what about Washington’s second wheel or pivot? Washington was counting on "We the People of the United States" to exercise the rights for which the writers of the constitution fought so mightily, namely:
The power under the Constitution will always be in the People. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for a certain limited period, to representatives of their own choosing; and whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their Servants can, and undoubtedly will be, recalled. (To future Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington on November 10, 1787)
Do "We the People of the United States" exercise our right to reclaim our power on the regular intervals established by our Constitution as the ultimate check and balance? Sadly, millions of Americans remain unregistered and millions more do not vote in election after election. How well would your car function if only half the wheels worked? Our founders were counting on us to keep our government functioning well. Be a good citizen and vote!
Remember: In a democracy, the highest office is the office of citizen.
Copyright 2004 by Peter A. Lillback
All Rights Reserved
Thursday, May 17, 2012