I am a Canadian citizen. And, I am an American citizen. In the interests of full disclosure, I became an American citizen in order to vote for Al Gore. Not that it helped.
This past week I received my ballot for the November 6 presidential, state, and local elections. I’m always tempted to vote straight ticket, but if I can find a moderate Republican or two, I’ll vote for them. I do it for the sake of political conservation. I would hate to see that species go totally extinct.
In any case, now that I’ve received my ballot, and have begun considering my options, I have had an amazing insight. The problem with the American election is that only Americans get to vote.
That’s wrong! The consequences of American policy are so great, for so many people all around the world, that I think these people ought also have a say in how America exercises its power. American consumption of natural resources, contributions to global warming, farm subsidies, military interventions and foreign (usually military) aid—the list goes on and on—are all matters of grave concern to the world’s billions who won’t get to vote. In fact, there is hardly any American policy that doesn’t impact the rest of the world. Our policies are taxing most of our neighbors round the world, in spite of their not being able to vote about who will legislate these policies. Taxation without representation!
Worse, American politicians are quite clear that when America acts in the world, it must do so in the American interest. Not in Canada’s or Sudan’s or China’s. When it comes to American politics, Samaritans are not good neighbors. Only other Americans are good neighbors. So while it is inevitable that some American policies will also be good for at least some none-Americans, this is merely trickle-down largesse. American policy, whether foreign or domestic, is about putting us, ourselves and our fellow citizens first.
This sort of America-first thinking runs contrary to a key Christian conviction. You see, before we are Americans or Canadians or Kenyans, we must identify ourselves as Christian. The Apostle Peter says, for example, says that Christians are “strangers and aliens” to the world, and instead, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” National distinctions must give way to our transnational—some would say “kingdom,” identity in Christ.
Among the earliest Christians, overcoming racial and national prejudice was a big deal. Jews and gentiles had to find their identity in Jesus—as did men and women, slaves and free. The early church was about creating a new identity that transcended all those divides. Paul adds that Christians are “ambassadors of reconciliation.” The image is that of a divine political institution sending Christians into the world to remake it in Jesus’ image. For Christians the question can never be “am I better off now than four years ago.” Rather, it must be, “are my neighbors better off now than four years ago?”
So among Christians, there ought to be a groundswell of support for letting other Christians, our international neighbors, vote. And since it isn’t only Christians—but Jews and Muslims and Baha’i and Hindus who all teach love of neighbor, we ought to throw the American election open to all people.
And yes, of course, this is written tongue in cheek. But voting in America is a very serious matter. So what will you vote this time around? Your pocket book? Or your brothers and sisters all around the world?
What do you think? Leave a response!