Isn’t it funny how a vote, the symbol of democracy and freedom, is so often turned into a threat? Having worked in an MP’s office I can tell you that so many of the emails and letters MPs get are about one specific issue and end with a threat: “your view on this topic will decide my vote.” Often this will be related to one specific issue and the voter is saying, “if you don’t agree with me on this one specific matter, I will not vote for you.”
Over the last few weeks I have been campaigning with my local candidate and I have seen the same phenomenon over and over again; people will decide which way to vote based on one particular issue. I met one man last week who said, “I won’t be voting for your party because of your views on same-sex marriage.” Now aside from the fact that no major party would do anything else than maintain the Marriage (Same-Sex) Act, there is a deeper issue here. People find one issue which they get very passionate about and that dominates their entire thought process when it comes to choosing which way to vote. They become so zoomed in on one aspect that they miss the rest of the portrait.
In my experience Christians are particularly guilty of this trend. Perhaps it is because we tend to get very passionate about our views. Perhaps it is because we are often the only ones speaking out about something, it fuels our passion to the exclusion of anything else. Whether these are issues about the family, marriage, abortion or any other important matter, we get so focused on one area, everything else becomes distorted.
Now I am not here to advocate for any one party, or to persuade you that the passions you have aren’t important; they are! And I understand the view that says Christians should ask the tricky questions that no one else is asking. But in your voting I am encouraging you to zoom out when you think about which way to vote. Rather than looking at what a party says on one particular issue, look at what sort of vision of society are they looking to build. What would that vision mean for the poorest, the most vulnerable, the people that Jesus spent most of his time with? What do the party stand for at their core? What are the big issues they are highlighting? And beyond the rhetoric, how would they achieve this vision? What would their methods mean for those people at the bottom? This is what I would encourage you to look at in making your decision. Don’t let one issue dominate but look at the big picture of what the parties are looking to build. Be a big issue voter, not a single issue voter.
(Photo: Jim Fischer)