Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Alasdair MacIntyre on Not Voting 

When offered a choice between two politically intolerable alternatives, it is important to choose neither. And when that choice is presented in rival arguments and debates that exclude from public consideration any other set of possibilities, it becomes a duty to withdraw from those arguments and debates, so as to resist the imposition of this false choice by those who have arrogated to themselves the power of framing the alternatives. These are propositions which in the abstract may seem to invite easy agreement. But, when they find application to the coming presidential election, they are likely to be rejected out of hand. For it has become an ingrained piece of received wisdom that voting is one mark of a good citizen, not voting a sign of irresponsibility. But the only vote worth casting in November is a vote that no one will be able to cast, a vote against a system that presents one with a choice between Bush's conservatism and Kerry's liberalism, those two partners in ideological debate, both of whom need the other as a target.
You can read the entirety of MacIntyre's article here (thanks to AKMA for the link). As America has been whipped up into a political frenzy over the past few weeks and months and now faces the polls, there is no more important time for people to self-consciously think as Christians, rather than merely as conservative or liberal Americans. MacIntyre's article is provocative and should not be ignored, even though there might be good reasons for rejecting his argument after careful consideration. Most Christians, when pricked, seem to hold to some form of consequentialist ethics. There is nothing like the fever of an election or war time to encourage this form of ethics. Other Christians do not see this as a 'lesser of two evils' situation, but believe that God clearly favours one candidate over the other. I would be interested to hear from some of the American readers of this blog on this subject. How, as a Christian, have you approached the decision to vote or not to vote today? What fundamental approach to ethics informed your decision? How would you argue that this is a Christian approach to ethics?

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