Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:23-26 ESV
The rhetoric surrounding this upcoming election cycle has been disturbing and depressing for a long time, but there are a couple of things that are now making the rounds that are particularly disturbing, and need to be set straight. Before you read on, here’s a warning. This isn’t going to be an endorsement of, or a bashing of, any candidate, or their positions, or anything having to do with how you decide to vote. If that’s what you were hoping for, you’ll be disappointed.
Violence has never been, nor will it ever be, the correct response to the results of an election that doesn’t go your way. It is a selfish reaction that is based on a foundation of ignorance and hatred. The democratic republic that is the United States of America has not been immune, through its history, from violent reactions to political situations, the Civil War being perhaps the most egregious example of how badly something can go wrong. It took more than a generation to recover from those wounds, and in the long run, it was the restoration of constitutional law, with the necessary changes to prevent future problems, during a time of peace that allowed America to emerge from that tragedy and become the strongest and most prosperous nation on earth. The Civil War was a shameful failure, a breakdown of order and morality, and a warning sign that America was not immune to the same kind of hatred and prejudice that laid waste to the population of Europe on more than one occasion.
Protest is a protected constitutional right. We call it “free speech” and it is right there among other protected and cherished constitutional rights like the freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms. I find it very ironic, and disturbing, that many of those who are hollering the loudest and the longest about alleged encroachments on the “right to bear arms” are also indicating that they are willing to use those arms to take other rights away from fellow citizens. You’ve heard and seen them, the people who are saying that they are not going to accept the results of the election if their guy doesn’t win, and that they will take things into their own hands. So does that mean that they’re OK with the other side doing the same thing, if it turns out that their candidate doesn’t win?
As I said before, violence is bred by selfishness and ignorance. The perception is systematically being created to undermine the results of the election by one of the candidates who claims that “it’s rigged.” His surrogates are beating their heels to convince voters that he isn’t implying that the actual vote count will be rigged, its just the influence of media bias. But that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying that if he loses, it will be because of voter fraud at the ballot box, an allegation that has no basis in fact whatsoever.
If you consider the vast size and scope of conducting a nationwide election in this country, voter fraud is an almost non-existent problem, and there is a mountain of evidence to prove that assertion. Sure, there are instances of where dead people somehow showed up at polls to vote, or where people who weren’t really who they said they were cast more than one ballot. Those things get a lot of attention, as well they should, since the integrity of the voting booth is the most important underlying principle of a representative democracy. But you can almost count the known instances that have occurred, over more than 200 years, and after billions of votes have been cast. And the other fact that most people ignore, is that both Republicans and Democrats have been involved in those few instances. One news source stated that there are actually more people in the US who get struck by lightning in a year than there are actual, proven instances of voter fraud. There are too many cross-referenced ways to watch the polls and ensure the accuracy of the vote count. Yeah, I’ve heard stories where computer programmers allegedly set machines to tilt the count. Try to find verification for any of those. It doesn’t exist because that never happened.
As far as the media goes, yes, it is fallible. But if you’re getting your political information from talk radio dee jays, or obviously biased sources that have signed on to run the campaign of one party’s candidate, then you’re getting information that is even more biased and inaccurate than the mainstream media puts out. The only qualification that virtually any of the daytime talk radio show hosts have to lay claim to “expertise” when it comes to political issues is that they have a voice that sounds good on the radio. There’s a problem if you think that a guy who used to play round, black plastic discs on a turntable, and tell you the names of the songs and artists he was playing is now an expert on political issues.
If you want to call yourself a patriotic American, if you claim the rights that are outlined in the constitution as your own, then you have to take the responsibility to participate the way that the constitution says that you can, and that is by voting, and then accepting the will of the people as it is represented by the majority of those who exercised their rights, and cast ballots. That is your entitlement to protest. Violence only demonstrates the selfishness and ignorance of those who attempt to use it to get their own way.