How to cast the perfect vote… and not cast the first stone

Australian and I Vote
Hands up who votes for Australia?! Image by Stephen Mitchell via Flickr

Many Australian voters will be hoping to cast the perfect vote on Saturday – one that represents the best policies, the best candidates and the best future for themselves and the nation.

Christians, and many other thoughtful people, are trained to be intentional and purposeful in all that they do, conscious of rights and wrongs and doing what is best in the eyes of God or their own conscience. This brings a kind of moral pressure to bear as we sift through the competing arguments from candidates and commentators alike.

Sometimes casting a vote almost becomes a battle to see who will cast the first stone – is there any among us worthy to pass judgement on the poor, political sinners scrambling exposed in the dust?

The hard, but relieving, truth is that the perfect vote does not exist, and never has because none of the parties or candidates are perfect. So if perfection is your goal, your are looking in the wrong place. I can think of Someone perfect, but He doesn’t need your vote. He would appreciate a chat though…

So take the pressure off, sit back and read my summary of the various options based on years of journalism and a relentless reviewing of parties, policies and posting more than 110 articles on the election in the past two months. 

 Oh, and one thing I won’t be doing is telling you how to vote… That’s your decision.

Visit Australian Christian Voter to read the full article.

Related Articles

Chattering and tractoring classes worlds apart on election day

In the inner Sydney seat of Grandyler where I live we have as a choice of candidates, starting on the left:  two varieties of socialists, the Greens, a rare Democrat sighting, the sitting Labor member and a Liberal candidate who is so young that the picture of youths being sent off to war as canon-fodder comes to mind.

Compare this to, say, the rural NSW seat of Riverina and you have, starting at the right: One Nation,  Independent, Christian Democratic Party, Family First, Liberal Democrat, Nationals, Liberals, Labor and Greens although there may be some discussion as to the relative ‘rightness’ of some of these candidates.

In other words, we have remarkably different worlds just a few hundred kilometres apart. It’s a common divide between the city and the bush and grows wider with relative distance from major city CBDs.

While there are overlaps and exceptions, we would do well to understand and respect the differences in priority and perspective between the inner city ‘chattering classes’ and the rural ‘tractoring classes’. 

One lesson is that the Greens have taken a step up from being a minor party that falls into an organisational hole when elections drawn near. They are mobilised even in electorates where they have more chance of being mistaken for a vegetable than winning.

If parties such as the CDP or Family First aspire to real political influence they must find their support base, represent it powerfully and broadly and do the hard yards of political foot soldiering.

As for making sense of it all, an election article of mine has been published in Sight Magazine or visit my Australian Christian Voter blog to find a link and vote in an election day survey – what’s your tip for election day?

Christians get moving on election action

We’ve passed the half-way mark of the election campaign and the temperature could be rising just a little.

Waking a bit groggily this morning, the result of working split night shifts so that my already insomniac tendencies are exacerbated, I heard a promo for ABC Radio’s AM in which a determined-sounding woman was telling the reporter she wouldn’t be voting for Julia Gillard because she’s an atheist and she knew ‘hundreds of people’ who had the same view.

You can check out this story at Australian Christian Voter.

As if to keep the ball rolling, the Australian Christian Lobby launched its Australia Votes website today and once again you can get a good rundown  at ACV.

Finally, candidate electorate forums are up and running, check out a list of the ACL ones organised so far.

Or perhaps you would prefer the Make Poverty History/Micah Challenge variety. Learn about them here.

Social engagement not just for the few

Scott Stephens is probably a good bloke doing a hard job, as editor of ABC Online’s Religion and Ethics portal.

But his July 19 blog post pretty much wrote off any Christian that engaged in politics (except maybe those he agrees with) and was full of stereotyping, arrogance and perhaps a slight trace of envy.

We are all good at that, if we are honest, aren’t we? So lets pray for him as on balance it is a positive thing that such a forum exists and a Christian is the editor.

His post attacking the Australian Christian Lobby, and among other things, Hillsong, gave the impression that unless you are a trendy, left-wing intellectual who reads Eureka St you shouldn’t climb the ivory tower of social engagement for fear of embarrassment.

That’s a pity because what we really want to do is educate Christians about social engagement, for the sake of the gospel, and the best way to do that is for us all to have a go, get kicked in the head a few times, learn some lessons, grow in humility and wisdom, and keep going…

Check out my response to his post.

Gillard: trust, consensus and sleeves rolled up

In announcing today a breakthrough agreement over the controversial mining tax, Prime Minister Julia Gillard emphasised consensus over confrontation and ideals such as trust and hard work. She also made a point of sharing the glory with her colleagues Wayne Swan and Martin Ferguson.

While she may have moved away from an early faith in God, it would seem she has gained some positive values from her Welsh Baptist upbringing. It remains to be seen how some other influences on her life will come to the fore.

For details of the mining tax outcome and to hear Julia Gillard answer the question, ‘Do you believe in God?’ check out my other blog  Australian Christian Voter.

From Hughesy to Fielding and everything in between

There’s plenty happening at Australian Christian Voter. You can watch a good collection of political videos ranging from Dave Hughes trying to keep a straight face while convincing people to register through to Senator Stephen Fielding telling his life story.

You’ll learn how Christians are lobbying hard at the seat of power and even get a chance to vote on the question: Which party/parties represent the best value for Christian voters?

A valuable resource (if I do say so…) with a federal election not far away. Check it out.

New site to help Christian voters

The next Federal election is not far away and the key issues are more diverse and complex than ever.

Many Christians will be trying to discern what good voting looks like and also want to speak with faith, compassion and intelligence into the pressing issues facing our nation.

For this reason, Australian Christian Voter  has been launched to bring together in one place anything of relevance to Christian and other voters in the lead up to the election.

It includes links to lobby and social justice groups as well as political parties and candidates but because ACV is completely independent, it can summarise the most important news from all these sources and beyond.

And where ever possible, we’ll be sure to include the best of election humour…

Check it out now and save it in your favourites/bookmarks. When election fever strikes and campaign literature starts filling your letterbox, ACV may be just the help you need… PH

PS The ACV site is funded by some advertising through Google.

Family First should win SA seat

Family First is a party representing Christian values (although somewhat reticent to say it that plainly of late) which began in South Australia some years ago.

It had two members in the SA upper house and one of these spots was up for re-election on Saturday.

As of today, Family First has 33029 votes which is 4.4 per cent of the vote and .53 of a seat. This compares with The Greens, with 49013 votes, 6.6 of the vote and .79 of a seat.

Both these minor parties are in with a good chance of winning a seat with Labor and Liberal winning perhaps seven between them, with two smaller parties possibly grabbing the final two.

Interestingly, there are 1,093316 voters enrolled, 797,880 upper house ballot papers lodged and 49727 informal votes. PH

How will Christians vote in the next election?

With the Federal Government ‘stockpiling’ double dissolution “triggers’ and a normal election possible from August 7 2010, political parties are well and truly in election mode.

The Christian vote has become more visible in recent years with the strengthening and growth of political parties claiming to represent Christians, not to mention candidates in other political parties highlighting their Christian faith.

Add to this the growing, if begrudging, respect being given to the Australian Christian Lobby, and we have a fascinating story emerging for voters who seek to vote in a way that reflects their faith.

Two states – South Australia and Tasmania – are going to the polls in March and it will be interesting to see the performance of  parties such as the Christian Democrats and Family First, relative to the Greens, Democrats and other minor parties.

I am writing an article for Alive magazine which will give an overview of the state of Christian politics in Australia, so keep an eye out for it in the April/May issue.

Micah Challenge has its Voices of Justice conference at Parliament House, Canberra on June 19-22 when young people will meet with dozens of elected representatives, lobbying for justice for the poor. In the shadow of an election, this timing could prove strategic. PH

The challenge for the democratic west…

I’m re-reading the classic science fiction trilogy, Dune, by Frank Herbert, and came across an interesting quote in a typical Herbert entree to a chapter.

In Children of Dune the quote has this citation: ‘Words of an ancient philosopher (Attributed by Harq al-Ada to one Louis Veuillot).’

Harq al-Ada is a fictional charcter while Veuillot was a 19th century journalist, man of letters and radical Catholic ultramontane which means he supported the Pope to the exclusion of local church authorities. Ultramontane means ‘dweller beyond the mountains’ (ultra montes), that is beyond the alps – referring to the Pope in Rome…

Read More »