Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day, Christian Morals, and Political Compromise

In a free society it is understood that we live under a set of “agreed-to rules” and common morals that guide our daily interaction. These rules and morals are established, in our American context, through the election process wherein each citizen is granted an equal voice through the ballot box. The American political system, while many will agree has become corrupt and tainted, has been carefully crafted to protect against oppression and favor freedom. Our electoral system, especially our Presidential electoral system, was crafted to not only grant each citizen an equal voice, but to equalize political power across several sectors. We know this as checks and balances. The Electoral College for example allows for each State to determine, within certain guidelines, how that particular State will cast its electoral votes for President and Vice President. For example, the State of California, based upon population, has been granted 55 electoral votes out of a total 538 in the entire nation. So in California, after all the polling stations have closed and have reported their vote totals, the “winner takes all” system is used and the States casts its 55 electoral votes for a single candidate. There are I believe 2 States and currently split their electoral college votes, but most use the “winner takes all” method.


Why do I go through this? Because after watching and reading so many posts in the recent weeks about this election and how divided our nation is politically, I think it is important to outline what I believe “Political Compromise” really means….


Whether we are using our voice to vote for President of the United States or whether building codes should be rewritten, after the votes are tallied, we agree to live by a “majority rules” method of government. That means, as in the case of California, if the majority votes for President Obama, which it is suggested they will today, then those who cast their vote for Governor Romney, agree to allow the entire State to cast its 55 electoral votes for President Obama. That is political compromise.


Political compromise doesn’t mean compromising your values and convictions and changing your vote. Political compromise means, maintaining your values and convictions, WHILE allowing the majority to rule. And if your values and convictions are not in the majority, then there are built-in systems to change the policies through future elections.


How does this affect our morals? Morals are a system of beliefs and behaviors SHARED by a common group. For Greek Orthodox Christians, our morals are established by God and His Church. For others in America, their morals are guided by other sources. So as Greek Orthodox Christians living in America, we live by two sets of morals, our Greek Orthodox Christian morals and American morals PROVIDED that the American morals don’t conflict. As Greek Orthodox Christians, we embrace political compromise and allow the majority to govern, but that does NOT mean that we change our values and convictions, merely that we allow others their freedom to live their lives, sometimes even choosing to depart from God’s Church.


So when you enter the voting booth today, remember your Orthodox Christian values and convictions and cast your vote. But remember, even when your vote is not in the majority, you never have to compromise your values, just which values become law. That is true freedom which God intended. If we find ourselves as Orthodox Christians in the legal minority, which wouldn’t be the first time in history, that only means we remain a minority, not that have to stop living as Orthodox Christians – loving God with all our heart, mind, body and soul and our neighbor as ourselves.


Have a blessed election day.

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