Monday, November 7, 2016

Halachic Insights Into Voting

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

Winston Churchill

In America it seems universal that religious Jews vote. It is interesting why this is so. Think about it - every candidate is bound to support issues and causes that are against Torah values so by voting them into office one is essentially being מסייע בידי עוברי עבירה - aiding and abetting sin. This is strictly forbidden. In Israel where "Shul and State" are so closely linked this problem is especially acute. That is why it is forbidden [according to poskim] to vote for secular parties who will advance causes that are antithetical to Torah law and principals [there is an article about this in an early volume of Techumin]. In the US - every candidate is essentially secular and not bound by any Torah laws, so how can we vote for them?

Simply stated - if a candidate is in favor of [for example] abortion, then a vote for him [or her] is a vote for abortion [it is well known which candidate is outspoken in her support - so I won't say which candidate - of a woman's right to "choose" to "murder" her fetus - Rav Moshe Feinstein's terminology] . Abortion is forbidden for non-Jews as well, so we have no right to promote it. 

Here is the answer. Indeed, a vote for any candidate is a vote that is partially against Torah but the goal is to elect the candidate who will best promote our values and causes. It is a matter of choosing  הרע במיעוטו - the lesser of two evils, and also the greater of the two goods [each candidate also intends to do what we would also consider good]. But that doesn't mean than any ballot cast is ALSO a ballot in favor of causes that we don't support. 

Imagine -  wouldn't we all want a candidate who gives zero money to the Arabs to build their terror cells? But neither candidate intends to favor Israel 100 percent over the Arabs as we would [I assume you would but I never know who reads this blog...]. They much show at least some measure of what the world considers "fair" and "even handedness" in the Middle Eat conflict and not just say [as many of us believe] that Israel just wants peace and quiet in their own country and if the Arabs don't comply they can take a hike while the Arabs in large numbers want to exterminate the Jews and their Jewish State. So all of the favoritism must be shown to Israel. In fact, every President until now has treated the Arabs with far more generosity than many of us would like. 

That is foreign policy. In domestic policy there are also issues where Torah Jews believe in certain positions and the President will not necessarily be 100 sympathetic. 

So we are NOT voting without reservations but in order to establish the best possible political environment [under the circumstances]. Ultimately, we have other ideas about the ideal form and nature of our government. So let's not get carried away:-).

WHO SHOULD YOU VOTE FOR? I won't tell you whom I favor but I will quote one person who said - May the best man win!!!