On Saturday 2 July, Australia heads to the polls to vote for our Federal representatives. As you’re probably aware, this election is unique in that it was caused by a Double Dissolution, a rare election trigger that dissolves both houses of parliament, whereas ordinarily, only half the Senate is up for election each three years.
Not only is this election unique, but the lead-up has been one of the longest in recent history. During such a protracted campaign, the tone among my friends has been less of interest, curiosity and excitement, and more of malaise, negativity and cynicism. The leaders of the major parties have been accused of being uninspiring, too similar, not showing enough leadership, and pandering to fear or popular opinion. In such an election climate, how are we as Christians to respond and engage?
In Jesus’ day, the Romans held power over God’s people in Israel, and the idea of free, fair and democratic elections was not considered. However, the apostle Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, and was not reluctant to use the privileges that came with it (Acts 16:35-40, 22:25-29), including demanding trial before Caesar himself (Acts 25:8-12)! In addition, Peter encourages God’s people to voluntarily submit to authorities, doing good, living freely and honouring those in power (1 Peter 2:13-17). With this in mind, let me suggest a different attitude to have towards our upcoming elections.
Be Grateful. As democratic rights would have been a distant dream for most people in Jesus’ day, so they are out of reach for many people today, who live under dictatorships, corrupt governments or strict monarchies. We are privileged to have the ability to vote for our leaders.
Be Informed. Take some time this week to learn about the parties and their policies. Work out what issues you believe are important and get a feel for what each party and representative believes. ABC Vote Compass is a helpful tool you can use to get a feel for your alignment (https://votecompass.abc.net.au/). Additionally, the Bible Society has a fairly balanced analysis and summary of election issues and each party’s position (https://social.shorthand.com/EternityNews/3yYuOvn18sY/federal-election-guide).
Be Optimistic. While you may feel frustrated if you feel there is no one party that perfectly lines up to all your personal views, take a positive view on what the future might hold. Look to the great things your representative will be able to do, and consider writing to them about the areas you disagree with them. Avoid the easy path of cynicism.
Be Prayerful. Pray for the election day. Pray for our leaders. Pray for God’s wisdom as you consider issues and prepare to vote. Pray that God will be honoured, whatever happens.