Here is the last post in a series on THE SIGNIFICANCE OF YOUR VOTE. In Part 2 (here), we focused on the rarely mentioned greed of those who seek wealth from the public treasury, especially all of us.
What will this post be about?
- Freedom of religion.
- Rights and Due process.
- The Free Market.
Freedom Of Religion
Consider this bit of wisdom from exploringthegreatknown.
The most effective way to bring about change in society, therefore, may start at a grassroots level, from the bottom up. After all, politicians sometimes change their voting patterns, so the conservative senator or representative you voted for in 2012 may decide that the liberal party provides a better membership package or simply change their personal views on the issue. I’m not saying it’s pointless to vote; however, I’m arguing that participating in the political process is not the ultimate expression of the Christian faith. (from here)
I suggest clicking here and reading all of ‘s comment. What has to say is quite excellent and true. Nevertheless, I think overlooks the fact that as Christians we must participate in the political life of our country. We must do so because we love our neighbors.
Consider the command to spread the Gospel.
Matthew 28:16-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen
If we want to spread the Gospel to our family (especially our children), our friends, and our neighbors, then we must continually fight for the right to do so.
Imagine living in a Muslim nation. Did you know that at one time most of the people living in the Middle East were Christians? During the latter days of the Roman Empire, untold numbers of men and women had died to spread the Christian faith. Unfortunately, Muslim “warriors” rose out of Saudi Arabia’s dessert wastes. Preaching the “peace” of Islam, with brute force these “warriors”conquered formerly Christian lands. These “warriors” forced the inhabitants to adopt Islam. They murdered the idol worshipers who refused Islam, and they tormented Christians and Jews with special taxes and other forms of abuse. Thus, Muslim bullies did what the most powerful Roman Emperors had been unable to do. They hit upon a way of methodically extirpating the Christian faith from their conquests.
As Christians, because we believe the Bible is true, we must defend the right of our family, friends, and neighbors to choose what they believe. That is a political act, one that requires us to involve ourselves in politics. Our opponents? These are people who attempt to impose their own beliefs by force. Given the opportunity, they will deny their family, friends, and neighbors the right to choose Christ.
Rights and Due Process
What is the difference between a tyrannical government and a government that serves the People? A government that serves the People protect the rights of the citizenry. Before the government can deprive any citizen of their rights, a free People requires their government to follow specific procedures. Otherwise, there no use in saying that any citizen has any rights. Without the requirement to follow specific procedures, government officials can ignore the rights of the citizenry and arbitrarily do as they wish.
What are rights? This dictionary definition of rights is not very helpful. Either we get dragged into the definition of a right (which has many definitions), or we get dragged into an ambiguous definition of civil rights. The trouble, however, is not with the definition. The trouble is with our propensity to abuse language. Because we have a pronounced tendency to call anything we want a right and a large sense of entitlement, anything and everything has become a right.
So what are our rights? Here I think it is worthwhile to consider the etymology of the word right (see here and here). What the references suggest is that we derive our “rights” from the impropriety of denying someone the ability to exercise their own capacity to do what they should do. If someone wants to do what is in accordance with what is good, proper, or just; what sense does it make to stop them? The last thing morally upright people want is a government that prevents them from doing what they should do. Yet don’t tyrants have their own ideas? If a good man speaks out against villainy in high places, won’t those in power attempt to silence him? When ordinary people try to fulfill their obligations to feed, cloth, shelter, and educate their children, won’t the greedier of our elites connive to separate those parents from wealth that would otherwise be used more appropriately? Therefore, our rights originate from a desire of the People, the desire to do the right thing.
This is a point that mastersamwise has striven to make in many of his comments (see here, here, here, and here, for examples). Our primary interest in protecting each others rights lies in our desire to enable each other to do what is good, not what is evil. Unfortunately, government is not especially good at distinguishing between good and evil. Therefore, instead of just protecting the individual’s right to do good, we protect the individual’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is, we each use the law to protect each of our family, friends, and neighbors from each of our other our family, friends, and neighbors.
“Due process” refers to the legal procedures we use to protect our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is, we require government officials to follow specific procedures and accord each citizen the due of process of law. Consider this excerpt from Legal Information Institute.
The Constitution states only one command twice. The Fifth Amendment says to the federal government that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, uses the same eleven words, called the Due Process Clause, to describe a legal obligation of all states. (from here)
What is in the Fifth Amendment?
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. (from here)
Who makes certain that government officials follow specific procedures and accord each citizen the due of process of law. You, me, and every other citizen. Protecting each other one of the ways we show our love for each other.
John 13:34-35 New King James Version (NKJV)
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The Free Market
Some people have a disdain for filthy lucre. They portray the desire for wealth as selfish. However, there is nothing selfish about voting to ensure the prosperity of our family, friends and neighbors. When governments abuse their powers or refuse to maintain proper order, people suffer. Sometimes they don’t get enough to eat.
In addition, what we buy and sell reflects our ethical beliefs. We may not wish to buy from or sell to companies who produce products made with slave labor, for example. Hence, we we want an economic system that gives us the freedom to choose.
Theoretically, our current economic system (which still contains vestiges of Capitalism) follows the law supply and demand. Generally, when our government does not interfere in the economy, the market sets the price for goods and services. When that happens shortages are generally brief. Because it pays well, people produce what is in high demand. On the other hand, if something is not selling well, people don’t waste time and resources trying to produce it.
When government interferes in the market by favoring some goods and services over others, unfortunate economic distortions can occur (For examples from the Great Recession, see the links at the following comments: here, here, and here.). Consider some examples of what is happening now.
- Our government spends far too much money. Because we let our politicians buy our votes, our taxes are too high, and our government borrows money to pay for programs we could do without. Instead of deciding for ourselves how to spend the money we earn, we let our leaders take our money from us and spend it for us.
- Our government artificially jacks up stock prices by increasing the money supply. That means stocks are overpriced. Eventually, that bubble will burst.
- Because of government interference in the housing market, we periodically experience housing bubbles and risk the catastrophic failure of lending and other financial institutions.
- Our leaders interfere in our college level educational institutions by giving schools money and “cheap” college loans to student. Thus, we waste billions encouraging our children to acquire degrees they can’t use and debt they have trouble paying off.
- Federal, state and local governments finance a monopolistic public education system. That system, increasingly incompetent and expensive, responds poorly to parental desires. Instead, the educrats running it increasingly demand complete control over the education of children. Yet because we have multiple levels of government running the system, we have trouble determining who is responsible for the mess.
- Our leaders have a Constitutional responsibility to control our borders and decide who is allowed to immigrate into our country. Instead, for the sake of cheap labor and voters they can buy off, they have reneged on their responsibility. Instead, they confer costly educational and welfare benefits upon people who don’t even have the right to be here.
- Instead of responding user demand, politicians arbitrarily determine how, when, and where our transportation infrastructure should be financed and built. Their politically driven decisions force many of us to spend hours each day in stop and go traffic.
- Foreign governments routinely practice a modern version of an economic model known as Mercantilism. These countries prey upon U.S. industries, using their economic clout to pressure U.S. companies to locate within their borders and give up trade secrets. Unfortunately, our politicians refuse to do anything to protect long range U.S. interests. Instead, they negotiate trade deals that are too complex for the public to understand.
Note: In the comments following THE SIGNIFICANCE OF YOUR VOTE — PART 2, this topic became the favorite item of discussion.
- And so forth.
One of the commenters to THE SIGNIFICANCE OF YOUR VOTE — PART 2, Necessary and Proper, provided an excerpt (here) from Free to Choose by Milton and Rose Friedman (1980). This excerpt argues against protectionism in international trade. Friedman makes the point that free enterprise both allows us to make our own choices and make the best use of the resources available. He argues that when foreign governments assist their companies and undercut U.S. manufacturers, they do so at a severe costs to their own citizens. Essentially, they give U.S. consumers a gift. Therefore, Friedman advocated for totally free markets.
We could say to the rest of the world: We believe in freedom and intend to practice it. We cannot force you to be free. But we can offer full cooperation on equal terms to all. Our market is open to you without tariffs or other restrictions. Sell here what you can and wish to. Buy whatever you can and wish to. In that way cooperation among individuals can be world-wide and free. (from here)
There may be a slight problem with Friedman’s reasoning. If U.S. investors know that the government of foreign competitors (China, for example) will drive U.S. companies out of a certain market sector, U.S. investors will not invest in that sector. Hence, foreign competitors will be able to sell their goods here at a premium prices. Moreover, if the goods over which a foreign government wants a monopoly has defense applications, that foreign government will have also succeeded in weakening U.S. defense preparedness. Therefore, in addition to keeping our own government from unnecessarily interfering with our economy, we must also defend our markets from the shenanigans of foreign governments.
Nevertheless, in a free market we each get to choose our vocation, where and how we live, what we buy and sell, and our charitable practices. In a free market we each have the fullest opportunity to follow the example of our Lord.
John 13:15 New King James Version (NKJV)
15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
Therefore, as Christians, if we care about our neighbors, we must participate in politics. We must choose our candidates wisely, support them, and vote for them.