By now those of us in Washington State have gotten our ballots in the mail. And while I always miss the polling place, to do love the fact that we have such an accessible and open system of mail-only voting, especially now that one doesn’t even need a stamp.
If you follow me on Facebook, you will probably realize my preferred candidate, but this post is not the place to talk about that. This post is simply to endorse participating in the process. Please vote.
I’m always surprised hear to see the low turn-out rates in our annual elections, with non-participation sometimes tipping the scales one way or the other. It is a bloc of voters that is sometimes larger than the bloc supporting a particular candidate.
The right to participate in our process is fundamental, and to opt not to participate seems almost like an affront. I don’t hold by the argument that not voting is a form of voting—our engagement with community requires active participation and not passivity.
Indeed, that is one of the lessons of this week’s Torah portion, in which we read of the description of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle, or mishkan in Hebrew, is the portable sanctuary the Israelites carry though the desert as a community center and worship space. The Torah goes into elaborate detail as to how it is to be constructed.
And a key part of the description is the listing of the raw materials, materials that are provided by the entire community:
God spoke to Moses, saying: Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him. And these are the gifts that you shall accept from them: gold, silver, and copper; blue, purple, and crimson yarns, fine linen, goats’ hair; tanned ram skins, dolphin skins, and acacia wood; oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the aromatic incense; lapis lazuli and other stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.Exodus 25:1-8
So while a few actually build, and a few serve in leadership, each person is to have a role in the formation of this central institution. Each person contributes a part of the whole.
Voting is the same way. We have representatives, we have lawmakers, but they are there because of the will of the voters. Through our ballot, we are contributing the part of the whole.
Which is why movements for voter suppression to subvert turnout are so nefarious. Whether it be gerrymandering districts or creating unreasonable requirements or purging rolls or denying former prisoners the opportunity, these efforts subvert one of the fundamental rights we have as citizens, and one of the fundamental desires we have as humans–to set the course of our own future.
One could argue that God’s Presence in the Tabernacle is conditioned on the full participation of the population. If they do not contribute and the Tabernacle is not built, God will not dwell among them. It’s not about the building or any physical space. It is about the spiritual space that can be created when people in a communal relationship join together to create something that is greater than themselves.
Today you can leave your tanned ram’s skins and lapis lazuli at home. But we all need you to mail in your ballot. You can submit it now, or wait until after Super Tuesday. You can vote ideologically or pragmatically (not necessarily mutually exclusive.) But please vote. That’s my endorsement.