Who should I vote for?
This is actually a very ambiguous question. It could be asking which candidate or party should I vote for, or it could be asking on whose behalf should I vote. I think for many people the latter interpretation is obvious, it’s me I should be voting on behalf of. The autonomous me, and my safety, my prosperity, my job, my future. Or if I go a bit wider it would be my family, my social or economic group, my tribe, class, race, locality, age-group and so on.
If I’m moral shouldn’t I vote for the others?
The next generation, the poor, the marginalized, the stranger, those on the receiving end of our government’s economic or foreign policy. I think the answer is yes, for sure. But how many voters are moral? Isn’t the whole idea of the autonomous individual that is at the heart of our western democracy primarily a selfish concept? I think so, and I think it it undermines democracy. The word democracy comes from the Greek word demos and referred to the common people of the ancient Greek state. So democracy is government of the people by the people for the people. It’s not about autonomy, it’s about the common good, the good of everybody. If I vote for what’s good for me as an individual rather than what’s good for the common people, what Jesus called the multitude, then it’s not a democratic use of the vote but a selfish use. And it’s immoral, sinful, although perfectly legal.
Our current western values need to change
I believe that our values are changing and that many people want, and are working for, moral cultural change throughout society. They need encouragement and resources. Next weekend I’m participating in the Manchester University Lincoln Theological Institute Conference on Self and the City. The aim is to provide serious discussion on how to understand ourselves and how to behave in our changing world. I shall be giving a paper and chairing a panel discussion on Do Cities Make us Selfish? http://religionandcivilsociety.com/self-the-society-april-2015/?SSScrollPosition=0 Of course we don’t just need theoretical resources, we need the relationships, connections and finances to change the way people think and behave. It takes time, but its happening. Until we change our common morality, the popular vote and our politicians and their parties will continue to promote selfish and partisan policies. The signs are that the British people no longer want business as usual. I hope and pray that the coming election will open up a lot more space for real democracy.