Perspectives: Voting, gamesmanship or sacred duty?

OPINION – Fanaticism has always been part of human nature. Unfortunately, recognizing it for what it is can be challenging for those who are caught up in it.

If the participants of an early 19th century religious tent revival could watch the frenzied antics of our current election year, they’d shake their heads in a mixture of pity and disbelief.

Considering how many people today view elections as the high sacrament of our civic religion, it’s understandable that many Americans are in the thrall of a pseudo-religious fervor.

If you were to stop 10 random people on the street and ask them what is motivating their participation in our quadrennial political reassurance ritual, the answers would be revealing.

For all the fiery talk thundering from the pulpits of mass and social media, very little is being offered in way of authentic, life-changing hope and direction. Most of the sermons being preached are more about damning one’s political opponents to hell than securing some form of proper governance.

For months now, word games have been raging back and forth online about how “a vote for anyone else is actually a vote for my candidate’s opponent.” This slavish devotion to the artificially limited choices of a deeply self-serving two-party system is the best evidence yet of Stockholm Syndrome on an unprecedented societal level.

It’s no exaggeration to note that fear has become the driving force behind how many people will choose to cast their votes this year.

Childish manipulation attempts aside, what does it say about our society when the most prominent arguments for voting are based in fear or guilt? Why should the legitimacy of one’s vote be contingent upon following the herd?

It’s clear many people have been successfully persuaded to view voting as a strategic game of sorts. This is why otherwise good people will abandon their long-term principles to settle for some perceived short-term political gain out of fear that their team might not win.

It’s telling that the promised short-term gain typically fails to materialize, yet four years down the road they find themselves playing the same rigged game with the deluded exuberance of a chronic gambler.

Those who view voting merely as a high-stakes game of strategy tend to be less respectful of the prerogative of other voters in how they exercise their conscience. They are more likely to regard a sincere difference of conscience as alignment with their opponent’s point of view and goals when it’s nothing of the sort.

Their world is seen primarily through a lens of political power and which way the guns will be pointing after the election. This is why we can always be more certain of who or what they are against than what they actually stand for.

On the other hand, voters who consider voting to be a sacred duty must choose more wisely how they will cast their vote. Their vote becomes an affirmation of who or what they are willing to morally support.

They understand that winning at the cost of compromising one’s principles is a Pyrrhic victory, at best.

This means they’d rather vote for a person or policy they can support and lose than vote for what they can’t support and win.

They do not allow their fears to dictate their commitment to principles they know to be sound. Their love of liberty, with its attendant principles and practices, outweighs their hatred of their enemies.

The upside of this approach is that once a person has settled on his or her foundational principles, it becomes much easier to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of which candidates and issues are worth supporting.

Sacred duty voters tend to have deeper respect for the voting choices of others; even those with whom they disagree. They don’t engage in playground sophistry and fear-mongering to try to manipulate others into voting their way.

If asked, they will explain exactly who or what they stand for and allow others to follow their own consciences in making the decision as to how their votes should be cast. Knowing exactly who they are and what they stand for lends a type of steadiness to their worldview that doesn’t require constant reassurance from the crowd.

Obviously, the sacred duty voter is a clear minority in today’s electorate.

They are often hated for their unwillingness to be swayed by the fearful pleadings of the crowd. In other times and places, they have faced being ostracized, spat upon, beaten and jailed for refusing to go along with the majority.

Doing the right thing is seldom synonymous with what’s easy.

However, time has always seemed to eventually vindicate the principles for which they stood even when it was unpopular to do so.

Courageous individuals are a necessity in every age, including ours.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator, radio host and opinion columnist in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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15 Comments

  • Brian October 31, 2016 at 8:34 am

    This has been exactly my experience this election. Spot on. I will not vote for Clinton or Trump. I cannot vote for Clinton or Trump.

    Many friends disagree with me and are respectful, but a handful have questioned my honor, character, patriotism, called me names, etc, etc. I’ve lost all respect for one that is just frothing at the mouth.

    I’m voting for McMullin, because he meets my criteria and actually has a path for the presidency (albeit a long shot). In the absence of McMullin I’d have to consider holding my nose and voting for Gary Johnson, simply because if the Libertarians get to 3% in the popular vote they’re automatically on the ballot in the next presidential election, and if they get to 5% they’ll get funding like the R’s and D’s. But even that would be a hard sell.

    I couldn’t be more disappointed in the candidates the R’s, D’s, and L’s chose. Especially when they all had really good candidates to choose from.

    My criteria is simple: Good, wise, honest, will act with integrity, and make decisions based on the Constitution. Trump and Clinton are both 0/5. Johnson is probably 3 for 5 (not sure on wise and Constitutional).

    Shame on Americans for drinking the sand when the media hands it to them (and make no mistake, WikiLeaks gave us clear evidence that Trump and Clinton were picked by the media, not the primary process, made possible by the sheople).

    • Bob October 31, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      yea i found a McMullin flyer stuck in my front door. The guy was some kind of CIA bigshot for years. No way in hell…

      • Brian October 31, 2016 at 1:34 pm

        He wasn’t a CIA “bigshot”, he was a field agent, and by all accounts a fantastic and honorable one. Don’t confuse the corrupt idiots at the top with the honorable agents in the ranks. Take for instance the FBI right now. There is a mutiny going on among the agents because those at the top have colluded or been pressured to make Hillary’s problems go away. That doesn’t mean there aren’t honest, patriotic FBI agents lower down. The mutiny proves there are. Those that know McMullin personally have nothing but good to say about him. Who are you going to believe? The people that know, or Trumps campaign manager?

        • Real Life October 31, 2016 at 3:20 pm

          You Mormons for McMullin do realize that he has 0.0% chance of winning, right? And YOU will be the first ones complaining if Hillary wins and does the things that Hillary will do, like putting somebody totally against your ideals in the Supreme Court. We get it. You don’t like Trump because your boy Romney don’t like Trump. But he is the closest thing, with an actual shot, to take her down. Like it or not.

          • .... October 31, 2016 at 5:43 pm

            Aww poor little RealLowlife. did the Mormons hurt your feelings ? LOL !

          • Brian November 1, 2016 at 9:09 am

            You do realize Utah can’t give the presidency to Hillary, right? She won’t win Utah. If Utah was about 50% Trump and 50% Hillary and McMullin was siphoning votes from Trump, then yes, Hillary could win. But that isn’t the case. It’s a tight, three-way race in Utah with Hillary in 3rd place. If McMullin takes votes from Trump that won’t put Hillary in 1st place. Period. Google “math” if you have any questions.

            The worst that can happen is that Trump loses the 6 electoral college votes from Utah, and they go to McMullin, NOT Hillary. If Hillary hits 270 it doesn’t matter how many Trump did or didn’t get, it’s over, and had nothing to do with Utah. If McMullin gets Utah’s 6 votes, and neither Trump or Hillary gets to 270, then it goes to the House and they decide. I love that possibility. The House wouldn’t choose Hillary, and it’s a toss up if they’d choose Trump or McMullin. I tend to think they’d choose McMullin because they’ve worked with him and know the type of man he was. But they may feel pressure to choose Trump because choosing the candidate with only 6 votes could lead to chaos. Whatever. At least it wouldn’t be Hillary.

            So everyone stop with the “a vote for McMullin is a vote for Hillary” bull crap, because it is 100% false. It’s a complete and total lie. And it isn’t a “wasted vote”, either. For me a wasted vote would be voting for a dishonest, immoral, power-hungry, self-serving candidate (ie. Trump and Clinton).

          • Henry November 1, 2016 at 1:22 pm

            You’ve repeatedly stated that McMullin has an impeccable, beyond-reproach personal background. How can you verify that? McMullin hopped in the race a couple months with no vetting. The other candidates have been scrutinized in excruciating detail, from childhood on. Being essentially a “one state wonder”, the national media has ignored looking into McMullin’s background. The LDS-controlled Utah media have basically provided puff pieces about McMullin.

            I’ve seen zero interviews with any of McMullin’s former co-workers, bosses, subordinates, or classmates. Just yesterday McMullin revealed that his mother is married to another woman. It makes no difference to me, but I would think that might give pause to some LDS voters. Can you imagine what would be the response if something like that came out about the other Presidential candidates? Why is it that we’re one week away from the election, and we’re just starting to get a glimpse into McMullin’s personal background?

        • .... October 31, 2016 at 5:41 pm

          Don’t mind Bob he only thinks he knows everything

  • Henry October 31, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Bryan Hyde, your sanctimonious lecturing would be palatable if you didn’t repeat this same thing every 4 years. In a 1 June 2012 St George News opinion article, titled “Heads they win, Tails we lose”, you wrote:
    – “…voters (need to) remain true to their core principles and refuse to be swayed from them.”
    – You quoted an author that stated “I stayed true to my conscience and to my principles.”

    You indicated that you couldn’t support Obama, McCain, Romney, Hillary, or Trump. Are you going to ever find a Presidential candidate that doesn’t force you to “abandon long-term principles”?

    Or are you yourself the perfect candidate? In a 25 October 2012 St George News opinion article, titled “The Candidate that I never thought that I’d vote for”, you wrote that “I wrote myself in for President” on your ballot.

    Are you yourself the candidate for the “sacred duty voters”? Or are you just a pontificating buffoon, preaching to your gullible sheeple?

    • Bob October 31, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      that about sums it up. too funny

  • whatever October 31, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Evan McMullin is a #NeverTrump Republican who has no chance of winning the election and has been foisted on us by Romney etc..to take votes away from Trump.
    No one knows ANYHTING about this guy other than what his ‘take our word for it’ glowing promoters are telling us (then call us sheeple for not falling in line behind him with no vetting beyond the Mormon Church).
    A few things known about McMullin and the reason I WILL NOT vote him (besides he is simply a spoiler) are his stance on TPP and being pro-immigration. He worked for Goldman Sachs, he is no different than the establishment candidates beaten during the primary.
    Ted Cruz won the Utah primary. Ted Cruz is a great friend of Mike Lee. Ted Cruz is supporting Trump! Why? Because Hillary is DANGEROUS. This author, Mr Hyde, is dead wrong about not allowing fear to drive our choice. On the contrary, FEAR should motivate you to get to the voting booth and vote Trump. Hillary should not be allowed anywhere near the WH, should not have any security clearance and should be in jail. People have ruined their lives and/or jailed for doing a fraction of what she has so far, gotten away with.
    She will go after the 2nd Amendment, appt liberal SCOTUS justices, continue Obamacare(aka Medicaid) for all, raise taxes, and continue massive unvetted immigration that will change this country forever (see Europe). She is no friend of the Catholics you can bet she is no friend of the Mormon Church or any religion for that matter.
    Too much at stake, folks.

    • Bob October 31, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      If trump actually got in I picture him taking up the usual republican agenda which is very very pro mass immigration and pro globalist. i will be voting straight D this go around. hopefully the R party will evolve into something better and not just the party of greed, corruption, and wars. i’ll state in fairness tho, there’s not much of a difference between R and D anymore, but just enough.

      • Henry October 31, 2016 at 7:00 pm

        You THINK Trump would be “very very pro mass immigration and pro globalist”, but you KNOW Hillary would be. Why not vote based upon the odds?

        • Bob November 1, 2016 at 12:16 pm

          i think we’re screwed either way. i think the globalist elite intends on flooding us with tens of millions of “migrants” like they have europe, plus an even more open border with mexico. dark times ahead, literally

  • ladybugavenger November 1, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Trump for President!

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