While elections occur only once every two or four years, with the amount of news coverage and media, it can seem a lot more often. It is easy to become desensitized to the people, the issues, and the noise.
Unfortunately, typically only about 60% of eligible voters participate in presidential elections years and 40% for midterm elections. (Turnout is even lower for primary and local elections.) That means those of us who do show up to vote have a bigger voice than we might realize. Here’s a few ideas how to use our voices effectively during election season:
You can re-focus the election conversation to issues of poverty and justice
God asks us to care for the poor. Elected officials work for us and will be our voice when it comes to issues of poverty and justice — such as girls’ education, clean water, human trafficking, and our global response to the coronavirus pandemic. So what do you want to say?
This election season, you have the power to refocus the conversation toward the things that genuinely matter — issues that will be affected by decisions in the next two to four years.
You can start a meaningful conversation
Raise the conversation among your friends, families, and networks — make it of value. Move beyond talking about the candidates as people you may like or dislike, and move to talking about the actions they will take as elected officials and how these actions will affect the most vulnerable:
- Families in the U.S. and around the world facing health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
- Children who have been displaced by violent conflict
- Mothers who give birth unattended and fear that their children will not live
- Girls not in school because they have to collect water for their families
- Those who want to provide food for their families, but lack land or resources
- Children facing violence in their own country, but with no place to go
As a constituent whose voice makes a difference, ask your candidates to move beyond their normal talking points and start conversations about issues that matter for the people whom Jesus would describe as “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40, NIV).
You can ask your political candidates these 7 questions
Below are some questions that you may consider asking. Reach out on social media, to news stations who are hosting debates, or use the contact form on candidates’ websites.
To find your local candidates, check your newspaper, or look for a voting guide in the mail.
- COVID-19 response: How should we work with other countries to create a global response to a global pandemic? How can the U.S. help the global economy recover and prevent a virus resurgence to save lives both here and in other countries?
- Foreign aid: Do you support the foreign assistance budget, which makes up less than 1% of the total federal budget? (Why it’s important: This budget helps build stable economies and infrastructure, while also giving communities a path out of poverty through access to basics like health facilities, schools, and clean water.)
- Human trafficking: What do you see as the U.S. role in combating human trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery?
- Disaster response: What specifically would you do to ensure that America is able to respond quickly and effectively to people in other parts of the world suffering from war and/or natural disasters?
- World hunger: Programs such as Food for Peace and Feed the Future have a history of strengthening U.S. relationships around the world and building self-sustainability for small-scale farmers. Do you see value in these programs and what do you see as the benefits in continuing programs such as these, especially as more families struggle with hunger in the wake of COVID-19?
- Health: Preventable deaths of mothers and children under 5 have been cut in half since 1990, yet the budgets for international maternal and child health programs are often targeted for cuts in the appropriations process. Do you support these programs, and if so, how will you ensure funding continues to be a priority?
- Collaboration: How do you see faith-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the United States government working together to help fight extreme poverty? How can citizens play a role?
You can pray for political candidates and elected officials
As Election Day approaches, pray that respect and values come to the forefront. Pray that candidates are given the will to talk about issues first and resist the temptation to attack others. Pray that all political candidates across the country would remember the poor and vulnerable, and that those who are elected would take with them a message of justice to the halls of Congress.
Send a note to your members of Congress now and let them know you’re praying for them!