Don’t be a one-issue voter! That is a common admonition made by people writing or talking about voting.
A one-issue voter, of course, is someone who feels so passionate about a single subject that they are willing to cast their vote based on a candidate’s stand on that issue alone.
For example . . .
To give an example from long ago, my father was not a highly political person, but he self-identified as a Democrat. Nevertheless, he did not like Franklin Roosevelt. In 1936 my father turned 21 and voted for the first time—but he voted for Republican Alf Landon for one reason and one reason alone: prohibition.
Roosevelt was elected in 1932 partly on the basis of his promise to end prohibition—which did end in 1933. My father thought that was a mistake--and held it against Roosevelt in the 1936 election, and as far as I know in the following two elections as well. That is what it means to be a one-issue voter.
From what I hear, some people are going to vote against Hillary Clinton next Tuesday (or have already done so) mainly because of one issue: abortion. As I wrote in an earlier blog article, many conservative Christians will vote for Donald Trump primarily because they know Clinton will support abortion rights—and would appoint Supreme Court justices who would do the same.
“Pro-life” should mean far more than “anti-abortion,” but some think that voting in opposition to all abortion is more important than anything else when casting one’s ballot.
In my case . . .
But why do I now identify as a one-issue voter?
While working on the sermon I preached last Sunday (Oct. 30) at the Rosedale Congregational (UCC) Church (in Kansas City, Kan.) I decided that, alas, I am one.
I used the alternate Old Testament reading from the lectionary, Isaiah 1:10-18, and titled my sermon “Seek Justice,” taking those words from verse 17.
In my sermon I also used one of the most important verses from the New Testament, which in one version is translated, “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Douay-Rheims, 1582, 1899)
Writing about the Kingdom of God as God’s reign, Stephen C. Mott translates that verse, “First of all seek the Reign and its justice” (Biblical Ethics and Social Change, 1982, p. 104).
It was my reflection on this verse, and the emphasis on justice in Amos 5 as well as in Isaiah 1, that led me to the conclusion that the candidate (or Party) most aligned with justice should be the one I vote for.
What this means
First, it is important to note that justice in the Bible is most usually not about punitive (criminal) justice or about restorative justice, a rather new and important emphasis. In the Bible justice is usually what can be called “distributive justice” and is often, rightfully, called “social justice” and includes racial justice and economic justice, among other types.
Thus, voting on the one issue of justice means voting for candidates most likely to work against oppression of people because of race, class, or gender.
So, here’s how I plan to vote on Nov. 8—and how I urge you to vote if you haven’t already: I will vote for the candidates who seem most likely to oppose oppression in order for there to be justice for women, for people of color, for LGBT people, for economically poor people, for American Indians, and for immigrants.