The American presidential race is ramping up as we head towards November. As it seems to happen every four years, everyone seems to get caught up in the cause or candidate that they think will save America.
Before you skip this post, know that I’m not advocating voting for any given candidate or platform (or against one, as easy as that would be to do). Instead, I explore what it means to apply the topic of stewardship to our political choices.
If you are an American citizen over 18, you have one vote per race per election cycle. Given the scarcity of this resource, it is important to use it wisely. As tempting as it might be to vote according to your gut or what your smart-sounding neighbor says, it’s just not enough if you really want to be a good steward.
So how can you be a good steward of the vote that you have?
1. Research each candidates and what they stand for. For larger elections, this can take some time, as there are a lot of offices to consider. Resources I use to investigate include the candidates’ websites, local newspaper surveys and their voting record (if they are an incumbent).
While their website is of course biased, it helps me to see what is important to them. If an issue that I’m passionate about doesn’t earn a mention, that says something in itself, even if they publicly espouse the same values I do.
For me, this also means not making up my mind until the last minute. I want as much data as possible before making the decision, and want to be as open as possible as my understanding of the candidates or issues is always incomplete.
2. Engage in reasonable conversations about the issues. If you are passionate about something, I think you should absolutely speak up about it. Whenever possible, focus on the issue, not on the candidates, as candidates are imperfect and you won’t agree with them 100% (unless it’s you!).
In these conversations, be willing to truly listen to opposing views with the goal of understanding, not of refuting. Chances are, the person you aren’t seeing eye to eye with has the same root desires, but sees a different path to achieve those desires.
If the exchange becomes uncivil, kindly excuse yourself (online or in person).
3. Vote. This should be obvious, but I’m afraid it’s not. There are times that I choose not to vote in a particular race, but those are rare. For bigger elections, there are usually more than 2 options, no matter what the TV pundits say.
How do you steward politics?
Photo by Rebecca Garcia