In twelve days, Americans go to the voting booths. We will participate in both continuity an change as we cast our ballots. Some officials will be re-elected; others will find new work. Some ordinances and propositions will become law; others will await the next cycle or become a memory. It is good for us to pause in our celebration and recognize that the American Experiment is both exceptional and hard-won. Our founders’ vision was extraordinary and the stability bequeathed to subsequent generations remains unprecedented in world history. This experiment in virtue-based liberty built on First Principles is something to celebrate.
This liberty has come with much suffering as well. It took a Civil War and Civil Rights to grant the franchise to millions of African-American citizens. Women were finally accorded the vote in 1920, after decades of petition and protest. Our soldiers suffering in Vietnam were the catalysts for opening this opportunity to 18 year old women and men. As we approach this election, we can rejoice that millions have the opportunity to shape the continuities and changes in local, state and national direction. We must also be vigilant that every legitimate vote is counted, from our military overseas to absentees at at home. We must reject all attempts to intimidate citizens as they express their freedom. At the same time, voting is the privilege of citizens, not documented or undocumented guests.
Are we ready to vote? I offer the following as a “The Twelve Days of Voting” preparation strategy that will make our nation stronger. Whether my readers agree with my opinions is less important than adhering to precepts of excellent preparation. Here are Twelve Questions, one for each day, as we prepare to cast our ballots:
Day One: Are we getting informed about our local and state issues as well as the Presidential race? Are we reading about the ordinances and propositions for our city, county and state? Are we aware of the positions of local and state candidates on issues that are important to us?
Day Two: Are we thinking about the Public Checkbook and electing men and women that will be good stewards our OUR money? We can and should argue how to spend public funds – there is much room for important debate here. But we must end the red ink at all levels.
Day Three: Are we investigating the voting records of incumbents and their connections with various special interests, regardless of party?
Day Four: Will we pause and pray for Almighty God to show mercy to a nation absorbed in her own pleasure, captivated by image, numbed by information overload and too eager to receive largess without considering its sources?
Day Five: After this pause, will we make friends with people outside our self-congratulatory circles, engage in civil dialogue and encourage others to vote?
Day Six: Will we focus on the local issues, asking ourselves which issues matter for future flourishing?
Day Seven: Will we concentrate on state issues, remembering the names of our assembly and senate leaders, evaluate their ideals and positions and prepare to cast our ballots intelligently?
Day Eight: Let’s look at the larger world as we examine our choices for Congress and the President. Which leaders do we trust the most to represent America well, both in our economic and safety interests as well as our ideals of freedom? What leaders will show courage in the face of Islamicist terrorism?
Day Nine: Which congressional and presidential candidates will balance the federal checkbook better? Which women and men will consider future generations in the budgets they pass?
Day Ten: Today we pause and consider the visions and values of the candidates and how they resonate with our own. We want character and competence, but ideals matter and we hope they have some humility as well, remembering that they serve us and not the reverse.
Day Eleven: Time for a final review and much more prayer and we implore the Lord for grace, love and truth in all things. This is a good day to read some quotes from Washington, Madison, John Quincy Adams, Lincoln and others.
Day Twelve: We vote, open our homes and stay up too late watching the results, celebrating peaceful transitions and preparing to hold all officials accountable.
Let’s be ready to vote with wisdom.