Table of Contents
- What is the Electoral College?
- 4b. What Factors Shape Political Attitudes?
- 10. Proverbs and Politics
- Tim | Age 27 | Austin, Texas | Has Never Voted
- Megan | Age 29 | San Francisco, California | Last Voted: 2014
- Drew | Age 21 | Berkeley, California | Last Voted: 2016
- Laura | Age 21 | Orlando, Florida | Has Never Voted
- Aaron | Age 25 | Atlanta, Georgia | Last Voted: 2016
- Anna | Age 21 | New York, New York | Has Never Voted
- Thomas | Age 28 | New York, New York | Last Voted: September 2018, New York Democratic Primary
- Jocelyn | Age 27 | Arlington, Massachusetts | Last Voted: 2016
- Maria | Age 26 | Conway, Arkansas | Last Voted: 2012
- Nathan | Age 28 | San Diego, California | Last Voted: 2016
- Here are all the ridiculous write-in candidates that Clackamas County voted for
- Why funny write-in names on ballots aren’t a laughing matter
- We see that you’re using an ad-blocker!
- Various Examples
- Know Your Meme Store
- External References
As for 2020, unemployment is at its lowest point in more than 60 years. The S&P 500 has tripled in the past decade. Wage growth, while still somewhat disappointing, is rising fastest for full-time low-income workers. In a vacuum, this would augur a reelection landslide for the sitting president. According to Cembalest’s index of economic strength—combining data on unemployment levels, home prices, per capita GDP, stock-market growth, and inflation—“Trump as an incumbent benefits from the strongest tailwinds” since 1896. (Bill Clinton’s reelection year of 1996 comes close, but unemployment and inflation were higher, and home values and the stock market were only on the cusp of their late-’90s boom.)
Derek Thompson: The best economic news no one wants to talk about
But Trump isn’t the only force of unprecedented-ness. If he loses to the current front-runner, Joe Biden will violate another soft law of American politics: the Rule of 14.
As Jonathan Rauch wrote in The Atlantic: “No one gets elected president who needs longer than 14 years to get from his or her first gubernatorial or Senate victory to either the presidency or the vice presidency.” Zero political experience is just fine with Americans. But too much is not. In the past century, voters have subjected their candidates to a freshness test. And 14 years of political experience seems to be a kind of expiration date. Most impressive, the Rule of 14 predicted the narrow defeats of Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, both of whom lost elections 15 years and 10 months after their first days in the United States Senate.
Biden, who leads almost every national poll, served as the senator from Delaware for 36 years, from 1973 until 2009, when he left his seat for the vice presidency. His 44 years of consecutive public service in Washington constitute one of the longest national tenures of any politician in American history. If Biden defeats Trump, the Rule of 14 won’t just get an asterisk; it will get a sledgehammer.
Any of the other three top Democratic candidates would also represent historic firsts. If Trump loses, it is all but certain that we will elect either the oldest president ever or the youngest. Bernie Sanders (78), Biden (77), and Elizabeth Warren (70) would all be older on their first day in office than the current record-holder in the oldest-president-ever category, Donald Trump. At 70 years and 220 days old on his first inauguration day, Trump was the oldest president to be elected to a first term, although Reagan in his second term was the oldest sitting president. Pete Buttigieg, 37, would be younger on day one than either Teddy Roosevelt—who, at 42, became the youngest president, after William McKinley died—or John F. Kennedy, who, at 43, became our youngest president-elect.
It’s always possible to find some narrow vertical in which a new president qualifies as a “first.” But gender, sexuality, and religion are all significant demographic markers. Warren would be the first female president, Buttigieg would be the first openly gay president, and Sanders would be the first Jewish president.
What is the Electoral College?
The Electoral College website now has an easy-to-remember address. Make sure to update your bookmarks!
The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The Founding Fathers established it in the Constitution, in part, as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
What is the process?
The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress.
How many electors are there? How are they distributed among the States?
The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your State has the same number of electors as it does Members in its Congressional delegation: one for each Member in the House of Representatives plus two Senators. Read more about the allocation of electoral votes.
The District of Columbia is allocated 3 electors and treated like a State for purposes of the Electoral College under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution. For this reason, in the following discussion, the word “State” also refers to the District of Columbia and “Governor” to the Mayor of the District of Columbia.
How are my electors chosen? What are their qualifications? How do they decide who to vote for?
Each candidate running for President in your State has his or her own group of electors (known as a slate). The slates are generally chosen by the candidate’s political party in your State, but State laws vary on how the electors are selected and what their responsibilities are. Read more about the qualifications of the electors and restrictions on who the electors may vote for.
What happens in the general election? Why should I vote?
The general election is held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. When you vote for a Presidential candidate you are actually voting for your candidate’s preferred electors. Learn more about voting for the electors.
Most States have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all electors to the Presidential candidate who wins the State’s popular vote. However, Maine and Nebraska each have a variation of “proportional representation.” Read more about the allocation of electors among the States.
What happens after the general election?
After the general election, your Governor prepares a Certificate of Ascertainment listing the names of all the individuals on the slates for each candidate. The Certificate of Ascertainment also lists the number of votes each individual received and shows which individuals were appointed as your State’s electors. Your State’s Certificate of Ascertainment is sent to NARA as part of the official records of the Presidential election.
The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the general election. The electors meet in their respective States, where they cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots. Your State’s electors’ votes are recorded on a Certificate of Vote, which is prepared at the meeting by the electors. Your State’s Certificate of Vote is sent to Congress, where the votes are counted, and NARA, as part of the official records of the Presidential election.
Each State’s electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors. Members of the House and Senate meet in the House Chamber to conduct the official count of electoral votes. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.
The President-elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the general election.
4b. What Factors Shape Political Attitudes?
The Bush clan shows that politics runs in the family. George Bush Sr. was a Congressman, then President of the United States, George W. Bush was the Governor of Texas before being elected President in 2000, and Jeb Bush is the Governor of Florida.
A common political culture by no means suggests that all Americans think alike. Some are conservative and tend to vote Republican. Some are liberal and tend to vote Democratic. Some have more negative attitudes toward public officials than do others. These attitudes determine how Americans participate, whom they vote for, and what political parties they support. Many factors — including family, gender, religion, race and ethnicity, and region — all contribute to American political attitudes and behavior.
Despite family disagreements and generation gaps, children tend to grow up and vote the way their parents do. Families are generally the first, and often the most enduring, influence on young people’s developing political opinions. As people grow older, other influences crisscross the family, and naturally their attitudes tend to diverge from those of their parents. However, the influence still remains. Logically, the more politically active your family, the more likely you are to hold the same beliefs. Just look at the Bush family. This relationship is less strong on specific issues — like school prayer, abortion, and welfare programs — but they all hold the same general political views.
The Kennedys are one of America’s most politically powerful families, claiming members at all levels of government. Here, three of the Kennedy clan — President John, Attorney General Robert, and Senator Edward — smile for the camera.
Political scientists have noticed some major shifts in gender influence since women first got the vote in 1920. Through the 1950s women tended to vote for Republicans. Even though more women voted for Franklin Roosevelt — a Democrat — than for his Republican opponents, they still supported him by smaller margins than did men. By the 1960s, women began to shift their loyalty to the Democrats.
In recent elections women have voted strongly Democratic. Why? Most observers believe that women think the Democrats more strongly support “women’s issues,” such as equal work, equal pay, and equal legal rights. Polls indicate that many issues about which women feel most strongly, such as education and health care, are more favorably addressed by the Democratic Party. Does this voting behavior mean that women are likely to vote for female candidates for office? The evidence doesn’t provide any clear evidence that they do.
Religious beliefs often sway the way people vote. The Christian Coalition is a group that has over two million members and represents the view that “people of faith have a right and a responsibility to be involved in the world around them.”
Older studies dating to the late 1940s generally show that Jewish voters are more likely to support Democrats than are Catholics or Protestants. Catholics tend to be more liberal on economic issues (such as minimum wage and taxes) than they are on social issues (such as abortion and divorce). More recent studies have focused on how affiliates of the “Religious Right” differ in their political attitudes and behavior from everyone else. The religious right tends to support more conservative candidates for public office, and they are more likely to contribute to the Republican Party than to the Democratic Party. This tendency is more clearly associated with social issues such as school prayer, abortion, and divorce, than with economic issues or foreign affairs.
Race and Ethnicity
As a general rule, for the past half-century African Americans have been the most loyal Democrats than any other identifiable group. Some experts believe that this loyalty is weakening, but recent elections have confirmed the strong tendency for black Americans to vote Democratic. Latinos as a whole have a tendency to vote Democratic, but the relationship is not as strong as it is for blacks. To further complicate matters, the various Latino groups have very different voting patterns. For example, Cuban Americans overall have a strong tendency to vote Republican, and Mexican Americans have an equally strong tendency to vote Democratic. Some studies indicate that Asian Americans tend to vote conservative, but there is still a lack of concrete evidence to prove this.
This map provides a statistical breakdown of the 1996 presidential election. Democrat Bill Clinton won states in red, while states in blue were won by Republican Bob Dole. Note that Clinton did well on the coasts of the country, while Dole took most of the mid-west.
As a general rule, people on either coast tend to be more liberal than those in the middle of the country. However, there are many exceptions to this tendency. Many Californians are archconservatives, as are a number of New Englanders. The Southeast presents some special problems with the rule, partly because their political affiliations have been changing over the past fifty years or so. The “Solid South” — the tendency to vote for Democrats, no matter what — began to erode during the 1950s, so that both Republicans and Democrats are competitive across the South today. However, recent presidential elections indicate a general support for Republicans in the South.
Tracking trends in political culture is very tricky. There is no “typical American.” These factors and others are merely indicators of tendencies, yet there are many exceptions. In the end, Americans are influenced by a wide array of factors when they cast their secret votes on Election Day.
10. Proverbs and Politics
A New York columnist, Anthony Lewis, analyzed the 1980 election and concluded that the primary issue in the campaign was not inflation, or foreign policy or unemployment, but the role of religion in American politics. Dr. Haddon Robinson, president of the Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary in Denver has written,
Fundamentalists who preached during the sixties that God and Caesar were to be kept apart, have had a turn of mind about what the Bible teaches. Political involvement now smacks of a religious crusade. While professing that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,” Christians do a creditable job of capturing the media, lobbying, selecting candidates, supporting constitutional amendments.31
Dr. Robinson goes on to warn us that we may be baptizing political philosophies into the faith unconverted.
The fact is that there has probably been no time in the recent history of our nation when evangelical Christians have been as interested and involved in the political process. At the same time there has been growing pressure on the part of many unbelievers to keep Christians out of politics, under the banner of “separation of church and state.”
While the Book of Proverbs is often consulted by Christians for words of wisdom on various matters, few tend to turn there for guidance concerning our political involvement. I believe there is good reason, however, why Proverbs is especially pertinent to the subject of politics.
Dr. Bruce Waltke, formerly head of the Old Testament department of Dallas Theological Seminary, taught the Book of Proverbs to his three children. His approach was that this book, written mostly by king Solomon, was intended to prepare his son to rule in his place over Israel. Proverbs, then, was written to princes. Here was a king not only instructing his “son” about wisdom in general, but also about wisdom as it related to governing a nation. If Christians are to “reign with Christ” (2 Tim. 2:12), should we not also prepare ourselves to reign in a righteous way?
Americans need not wait until the “sweet bye and bye” to reign, however. In the days of David and Solomon authority to govern Israel was highly centralized, and it was virtually the king alone who determined the course of the nation, established the standards for men’s conduct, and saw to it that the law was enforced. Such is the case today in many parts of the world. In America, however, government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” If in Proverbs (and the New Testament as well, cf. Rom. 13:1-7) the king was responsible before God to punish evildoers and to reward the righteous, it is every American who bears this responsibility in our nation. Our government is representative and so we elect officials who act in our behalf. While some Christians may be called of God to run for political office, we all have the right and the responsibility to help elect those who will govern righteously. When our officials fail to keep this trust we have an obligation to seek to change their minds or to work to replace them. Since it is we, then, who are responsible to rule, let us look carefully at the teaching of Proverbs on the relationship between righteousness and ruling.
Good Government is Godly Government
Good government is also a godly government according to Proverbs. There are three principles which outline the relationship between godliness and government in the Book of Proverbs. Let us briefly consider them.
1. RIGHTEOUSNESS IN GOVERNMENT IS FOR THE GOOD OF THE GOVERNED.
There are those who think that a government which seeks to uphold righteousness is only out to make life miserable for them. The Moral Majority, for example, is viewed as a group of Christian kill-joys who are out to make life as miserable for others as they have made it for themselves. Proverbs assumes that the purpose of government is to promote righteousness and that righteousness is for the good of the people.
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, And when the wicked perish, there is glad shouting. By the blessing of the righteous a city is exalted, But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down (11:10-11).
Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people (14:34).
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan (29:2).
The point of these Proverbs is that righteousness is not only right, it is best. When righteousness is promoted and preserved by government, the people are blessed. When government fails to achieve its intended purpose, the people suffer.
2. RIGHTEOUSNESS IN GOVERNMENT IS FOR THE GOOD OF THE GOVERNMENT.
Since the purpose of government is to uphold righteousness, God requires rulers to be righteous (cf. 16:2). When those who govern are righteous, their administration will be successful and stable.
Loyalty and truth preserve the king, And he upholds his throne by righteousness (20:28).
By the transgression of a land many are its princes, But by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures (28:2).
A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days (28:16).
If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, All his ministers become wicked (29:12).
If the king judges the poor with truth, His throne will be established forever (29:14).
3. GOOD GOVERNMENT IS DEPENDENT UPON DIVINE ENABLEMENT.
Government deals with matters which are humanly impossible to produce. Righteousness, justice and equity are all God-given. A government which would promote righteousness must seek divine enablement.
For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course (2:6-9).
‘By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, All who judge rightly” (8:15-16).
Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the Lord understand all things (28:5).
While there may be wisdom in separating certain religious functions from political office, there is no way that we can separate righteousness from political office. If the purpose of government is to promote righteousness and to punish evil, how can we avoid defining righteousness and defending it as a part of our political obligation before God?
of a Righteous Ruler
The outworking of righteousness in government is not left in vague and academic terms. Proverbs spells out what a godly government will do.
1. THE RIGHTEOUS RULER IS CHARACTERIZED BY EQUITY ANP IMPARTIALITY.
Those in positions of power sometimes thwart justice by showing deference to certain individuals in the community. Proverbs condemns such partiality and insists upon justice and equity.
A wicked man receives a bribe from the bosom to pervert the ways of justice (17:23).
To show partiality to the wicked is not good, Nor to thrust aside the righteous in judgment (18:5).
These also are sayings of the wise. To show partiality in judgment is not good. He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him; but to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight, and good blessing will come upon them (24:23-25).
It is not for kings, 0 Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink. Lest they drink and forget what is decreed, And pervert the rights of all the afflicted (31:4-5).
2. THE RIGHTEOUS RULER IS CONCERNED FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE POOR, THE AFFLICTED, AND THE HELPLESS.
It is possible for the king to abuse his power and to take advantage of the helpless. Ahab and Jezebel, for example, murdered Naboth in order to obtain his field (1 Kings 21). Proverbs recognizes this as one of the dangers facing those in power and urges those who reign not to abuse their power, but to use it to protect the powerless.
A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days (28:16).
If a king judges the poor with truth, His throne will be established forever (29:14).
Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy (31:8-9).
3. THE RIGHTEOUS RULER IS A SEEKER OF TRUTH.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter (25:2).
Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the Lord understand all things (28:5).
4. THE RIGHTEOUS RULER SEEKS TO EXPOSE EVILDOERS, TO PUNISH THEM, AND TO PROTECT OTHERS FROM THEIR WICKEDNESS.
Righteousness is often evidenced by one’s response to wickedness. The righteous ruler will not tolerate sin. He will not practice wickedness, nor will he tolerate its practice or presence. He seeks it out and deals justly with it.
A king who sits on the throne of justice Disperses all evil with his eyes (20:8).
But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight, And a good blessing will come upon them (24:25).
Take away the wicked from before the king, And his throne will be established in righteousness (25:5).
Like a trampled spring and a polluted well Is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked (25:26).
Principles of Punishment in Proverbs
There are very clear principles in Proverbs which should govern the punishment of the wicked. Because of great disagreement over issues such as capital punishment I feel it is necessary for us to carefully consider them.
1. PUNISHING THE CRIMINAL IS BENEFICIAL TO HIM (OR HER).
No one should enjoy watching others suffer, nor should we delight in taking part in their punishment. Many think that the answer to crime is education. Others believe that going easy on the offender will be more effective than severe punishment. Proverbs warns us that if we take a soft position on sin we do a disservice to the criminal by encouraging him to repeat his crime.
A man of great anger shall bear the penalty, For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again (19:19).
The number of repeat offenses is astronomical in our nation. The reason is that we have not been tough enough on first offenders. Punishment for serious crimes will serve as a warning to offenders. Soft treatment simply asks for more crime. When there is no punishment, crime does pay for the criminal.
2. PUNISHING THE CRIMINAL IS BENEFICIAL TO OTHERS.
Proverbs does not teach that severe punishment will always reform the criminal. We know that it will not. But in the case of capital punishment at least it will keep the murderer from doing it again. But capital punishment (as with all severe punishment) does benefit others in that it serves to instruct those who are teachable that crime does not pay.
‘When the scoffer is punished, the naive becomes wise; But when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge (21:11).
From our previous study of the fool we learned that the scoffer will never learn. Striking the scoffer teaches the scoffer nothing, but it is very instructive to the simple (19:25). Capital punishment may not have any impact on the hardened criminal, but it will at least rid society of the murderer. It will also have the beneficial secondary result of serving to instruct those who have no desire to face the same consequences for sin. The punishment of the evildoer, according to Proverbs, is a deterrent to crime. Capital punishment, it seems to me, is especially needed in cases where men will be deterred by nothing but death. And when such scoffers are dealt with, the simple will learn a valuable lesson.
3. PUNISHING THOSE GUILTY OF MURDER IS OUR DUTY. We do not have any option as to how to handle murderers. Severe punishment is our duty. We must be harsh with them.
A man who is laden with the guilt of human blood will be a fugitive until death; let no one support him (28:17).
It is first necessary to point out the obvious fact that while the death penalty was to be carried out on some who committed murder, Proverbs assumes that not all murderers would be executed. The case in point seems to be one of those exceptions. But we are instructed not to ease in any way the consequences of their sin.
Recently there was a special program on TV pertaining to capital punishment. It was occasioned by the execution of a murderer. The outcry was predictable. No one spoke up for the rights of the one who was killed. The focus was entirely on the pain inflicted on the criminal. Proverbs teaches us that this pain is deserved and that we dare not seek to reduce it. One man who was found guilty of murder was freed because of “temporary insanity.” As I understand it, this might well be identical with the “great anger” of Proverbs 19:19. In that instance the one who committed a crime in “great anger” was to face the full penalty so the crime would not recur. This seems to be directly applicable to much that is tolerated today in the name of “temporary insanity.”
How to Have Political Influence
I was very distressed to hear a prominent Christian leader say on the radio that if Christians are to gain a hearing we must beat the politicians at their own game. In the context of his statement I understood him to imply that the only way Christians can have an impact on their government is to adopt the methodology of the secular political movements of our day. I find such thinking troublesome. Proverbs has much to teach us about finding favor with the king, the equivalent in our world to having political influence on those in the government.
1. THOSE WHO HAVE INFLUENCE ON GOVERNMENT ARE THOSE WHO ARE WISE.
The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, but his anger is toward him who acts shamefully (14:35).
2. THOSE WHO STAND BEFORE KINGS ARE THOSE WHO ARE PROFICIENT AT WHAT THEY DO.
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men (22:29).
3. THOSE WHO HAVE INFLUENCE ON GOVERNMENT ARE THOSE WHO HAVE LEARNED TO BE TACTFUL, GRACIOUS, AND PATIENT.
Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and he who speaks right is loved (16:13).
He who loves purity of heart and whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend (22:11).
By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone (25:15).
4. THOSE WHO HAVE INFLUENCE ARE CAREFUL NOT TO ASSOCIATE THEMSELVES WITH RADICALS, WHOSE ONLY DESIRE IS TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE BY REVOLUTIONY MEANS.
My son, fear the Lord, and the king; do not associate with those who are given to change; for their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin that comes from both of them (24:21-22).
5. THOSE WHO HAVE INFLUENCE DO NOT SEEK THE POWER OR THE PLEASURES OF THOSE THEY SEEK TO INFLUENCE.
When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you; and put a knife to your throat, If you are a man of great appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for it is deceptive food (23:1-3).
Do not claim honor in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of great men; For it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,” than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen (25:6-7).
It is my personal opinion that Christians have frequently failed to win a hearing from those who are in places of political power because we have failed to follow these simple principles. We have often evidenced a lack of wisdom, sometimes motivated by a statement or claim that was later proven to be factually erroneous. We have sometimes been ignored or disregarded, not because we were Christians, but because we were not competent or civil. In such cases our words have not been gracious and appropriate, but stinging and critical, even caustic. We may refer to politicians as liberals, humanists, or bureaucrats. Sometimes it has seemed to those in power that Christian spokesmen were simply seeking to establish their own power base.
Daniel and his three Hebrew companions were very influential in government, even though they were young and political prisoners. They were chosen to hold positions of power because they were skillful and wise (Dan. 1:17,19-20). Likewise, Pharaoh chose Joseph to be second in command in spite of the fact that he was a Hebrew, for whom the Egyptians had little regard (Gen. 43:32; 46:34), because he manifested greater wisdom than any other man in Egypt (Gen. 41:39).
Do we wish to have a hearing? Let us strive to be wise. Let us be so skilled that those in government seek the contribution we can make. And let us be very prudent in the way we speak and act before men in positions of political power. Let us not be disregarded for being foolish, rather than for being Christians.
Let me attempt to sum up the teaching of Proverbs on the subject of politics with a few principles.
1. GODLINESS CANNOT BE SEPARATED FROM GOVERNMENT. The purpose of government is to promote and protect righteousness, and to punish the wicked. While the framers of our constitution were wise to guard against a state church, recent efforts to ban everything related to religious faith from government under the banner of separation of church and state go too far. They go far beyond the Scriptures and even beyond the intent of the framers of the constitution. In order to be good, government must be godly; and it must promote godliness.
2. GODLY PEOPLE SHOULD NOT SHUN THEIR RESPONSIBILITIY AS A PART OF GOVERNMENT. While Proverbs shows a definite relationship between godliness and government, many American evangelicals have tended to equate politics and the American political process with something unclean. I know of godly men and women who have said, “I vote on my knees.” That sounds good, and I do not doubt the sincerity of those who hold the view that the Christian is to stand aloof from government. I do, however, question the biblical basis for such a position. In the Old Testament it was the ideal that godly men should lead in government, men like David and Solomon. In America we who are citizens have the responsibility to take part in the process of electing men and women who will make and enforce the laws of our land. By our very laws Americans are the government. By God’s laws, as reflected in the Book of Proverbs, we are responsible before God to govern in a godly way. Government is a responsibility Christians dare not take lightly.
I should also add that in this area of life, as in all others, the nature and extent of our involvement is a matter of gift and calling. I believe that God has called certain Christians to devote their lives to direct involvement in government.
Because of the complexity of government, there are some who have been raised up to keep other Christians informed on legislation before congress and areas that need particular prayer and action. But all of us have a part to play, I believe, in the political process. Let us play that part well, to the glory of God and for the good of our fellow man.
3. EVEN THOUGH SOLOMON “WROTE THE BOOK” ON THE SUBJECT OF GODLINESS IN GOVERNMENT HE FAILED TO HEED HIS OWN COUNSEL. We know that most of what was written in Proverbs on the subject of politics (the king) was written by Solomon.
Let us find a word of warning from the record of 1 Kings chapters 11 and 12. In his later years Solomon forsook the law of God, married foreign wives, and built altars to heathen gods on which he offered sacrifices (11:1-8). God had appeared to Solomon twice to warn him of this great evil (11:9-10), and yet Solomon failed to take heed. Solomon’s rule was heavy-handed (12:4), and his son Rehoboam purposed to be even more severe (12:6-15). When Solomon learned that God intended to raise up Jeroboam to lead ten of the tribes of Israel, he, much like Saul before him, attempted to put this challenger to death (compare 1 Sam. 18 with 1 Kings 11:40).
I believe there is a lesson to be learned here. Many who have written books on various subjects of the Christian life have later failed to heed their own counsel. Now I hasten to say that their words may have been correct, as were Solomon’s. But it is not enough simply to know the truth; we must practice the truth. Knowledge without obedience is of little value.
4. POLITICAL POWER, LIKE ALL OTHER FORMS OF POWER, IS A MATTER OF STEWARDSHIP AND SERVANTHOOD. Any power may be prostituted to our own advantage. God gives power as a stewardship, and when it is abused, He may take it away, just as he removed power from Solomon in the person of his son, Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:9-11). We have an interesting word of counsel given by Solomon’s elderly and wise advisors to his son, Rehoboam:
Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, will serve them, grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever” (1 Kings 12:7).
Rehoboam had not learned that leadership is really servanthood, a lesson which our Lord needed to teach His disciples centuries later (cf. Mark 10:35-45). Power, political or otherwise, is given by God so that we may serve others. When we forget this we are in danger of being set aside.
5. GOD IS MORE CONCERNED WITH THE FUNCTION OF GOVERNMENT THAN WITH ITS FORM. Sometimes I have the feeling that we Americans who are evangelicals think that God looks with some kind of special favor on our form of government. Personally, I do not know of any better form of government. I surely would not prefer the governmental structures to which most of the world’s population are subject. But let us learn from Proverbs that while form is important, it is the function of government which is primary. It is possible to have the right form, but the wrong function. Government is to function so that the righteous are rewarded, the evil are punished, and the rights of the helpless are protected. Unfortunately (in my opinion) evangelical Christians have seemingly been more interested in the economic or political philosophy of an administration, while it has been the unsaved who have placed more emphasis on justice and the care of the helpless. Function is more important than form in the Book of Proverbs.
6. THERE IS ONLY ONE IDEAL FORM OF GOVERNMENT–THAT GOVERNMENT WHICH OUR LORD WILL ESTABLISH OVER THE EARTH WHEN HE RETURNS TO RULE IN RIGHTEOUNESS. Proverbs would remind us that whatever form of government we may live under, God is still in control of it and of history.
The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes (21:1).
God is in control, no matter what form a government may take. Whatever the form of government, it will be imperfect, both because it seeks to rule over men who are sinners and because the men who rule are sinners. The only perfect system of government is that which our Lord Himself will establish when He returns to rule over the earth in perfect righteousness. But I must warn you that He is not only coming as Savior, but as Judge of the earth. If you have not yet come to trust in Him by faith, I urge you to submit to the King who is coming soon, Jesus Christ. He died for your sins on the cross of Calvary. By trusting in Him, you may have eternal life, and, indeed, you may reign with Him forever. What a day that will be!
31 Focal Point, Summer, 1980.
There are things that I’m aware of where I’m certain I’m right. But for most things, although I feel strongly, it’s very probable that there’s some aspect of this that I don’t understand. Somebody provides a new avenue of thought, and it changes the way I think about something. I never felt certain enough to vote. But I’m a political-science student, and the talk of voting is really big in my circle of friends. In 2016, I almost did. Of course, I’m not a big fan of Trump, but I didn’t know if Trump was going to be a flash in the pan or — I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to help something that might end up being wrong.
Tim | Age 27 | Austin, Texas | Has Never Voted
I tried to register for the 2016 election, but it was beyond the deadline by the time I tried to do it. I hate mailing stuff; it gives me anxiety. I don’t remember seeing voter-registration drives, no. I’ve seen a lot more the past two years. I’m sure there must have been stuff. I just don’t remember it.
I guess I still thought, Okay, my vote is largely symbolic in this election because I’m in Texas. Even if Texas went blue, I’m pretty sure my vote wouldn’t matter anyway. Austin is very liberal, but it’s very gerrymandered.
The House district I’m in goes GOP every election, which is ridiculous. I was particularly interested in voting in 2016 because Donald Trump is so stupid. It drove me up a wall — he knew way less about the government than I do.
I have ADHD, and it makes it hard for me to do certain tasks where the payoff is far off in the future or abstract. I don’t find it intrinsically motivational. The amount of work logically isn’t that much: Fill out a form, mail it, go to a specific place on a specific day. But those kind of tasks can be hard for me to do if I’m not enthusiastic about it. That’s kind of a problem with social attitudes around, you know, “It’s your civic duty to vote.” I once told a co-worker I didn’t vote, and she said, “That’s really irresponsible,” in this judgmental voice. You can’t build a policy around calling people irresponsible. You need to make people enthusiastic and engaged.
After 2016, a couple friends became a lot more politically active, and they helped me register and mail the form. So I actually am registered now. I’m leaning toward probably voting in the midterms. It feels like the reason to vote is symbolic. The motivation isn’t about the actual value my vote has; it’s more like a theoretical signaling value. If that’s the case, I would rather signal that Democrats should have more progressive candidates, rather than assuming that everyone on the left will automatically vote for the candidates they run. In the end, whether I vote probably depends on how close the candidates are.
Megan | Age 29 | San Francisco, California | Last Voted: 2014
I rent and move around quite a bit, and when I try to get absentee ballots, they need me to print out a form and mail it to them no more than 30 days before the election but also no less than seven days before the election. Typically, I check way before that time, then forget to check again, or just
say “Fuck it” because I don’t own a printer or stamps anyway. It’s incredibly difficult for hourly workers or young people who are in rotational programs or travel frequently for their careers to vote. I wish every state’s rules were the same so there was not so much confusion and it was easy to find straightforward information on how exactly to get absentee ballots.
Drew | Age 21 | Berkeley, California | Last Voted: 2016
I feel like the Democratic Party doesn’t really stand for the things I believe in anymore. Why should I vote for a party that doesn’t really do anything for me as a voter? Millennials don’t vote because a lot of politicians are appealing to older voters. We deserve politicians that are willing to do stuff for our future instead of catering to people who will not be here for our future. I’m a poli-sci major, so talking about politics is a daily thing for me. Half of the people I talk to seem very into voting. The other half are people who, like me, don’t really feel represented. The only thing they choose to vote in is local elections.
Laura | Age 21 | Orlando, Florida | Has Never Voted
In high school, I didn’t even know our vice-president’s name was Joe Biden. All my high-school classmates were Republicans. They were very vocal about it, especially during the whole Romney-and-Obama election. I realized I didn’t believe everything they were saying. Then I Googled “Republican versus Democrat,” and I like kinda both, kinda not. That’s why I’m an Independent. It wasn’t till the Trump-versus-Hillary election that I realized how important it is to vote. Maybe it had to do with, like, society and all. Everyone I was following was like, “Go out to vote.” I was in college in Massachusetts. I decided that I wasn’t gonna go through that long process for an out-of-state student to register to vote. I had a hectic schedule. I just didn’t have the time and energy. Also I didn’t know how my parents would feel about that whole thing, ’cause my brother does not vote either. So it wasn’t asked if they could help us out with the registration and mailing all the forms to us. My mom is a Republican, my dad is a Democrat, and I did not learn that until the 2016 election, after begging them to tell me at least what their party was.
I realized that I should’ve voted afterward. Ever since that election,
I started turning on not just CNN but also Fox News on the iPhone news app. I plan to vote in 2020. I have a goal set to know more about politics by that time.
Aaron | Age 25 | Atlanta, Georgia | Last Voted: 2016
I volunteered for Bernie Sanders. I went to many rallies, I was at the first presidential debate in Las Vegas. But when he folded, then immediately went and defended Hillary, a person who he’s been campaigning against for 18 months, that just really killed it for me. I just have no respect for that. It’s the same thing on the other side. Look at Ted Cruz, who’s spent his last two years being made fun of by Donald Trump, and then we see Trump saying Cruz is the right guy in Texas to go against Beto O’Rourke. It’s just so much political theater, and it really just turned me off entirely.
I wasn’t planning to vote in 2016. I was with my mom, we were at Albertsons grocery store around the corner from my house, and they were in there voting. My mom voted, and it took her literally ten seconds. She said, “You should do it,” and I said, “I don’t know, I don’t really think I want to.” And she was like, “Aaron, it just took a minute.” So I said, “Okay, fine.” I just voted for Hillary. I felt bad about it for two years.
I look at it this way: That report just came out the other day about global warming, talking about how we have 12 years, until 2030, for this radical change unlike the world has ever seen. And The Hill newspaper just put out that article about how the DNC does not plan on making climate change a big part of their platform, even still. I just do not understand why I would vote for a party that doesn’t care about me in any way. They can say, “Sure, we’ll lower student interest rates.” Well, I don’t give a shit about student interest rates if I’m not going to live past 13 more years on this planet. Everyone on Twitter can be like, “Oh, we need the Democratic Senate to pack the courts.” But have they watched the Democratic Party at any time during my lifetime? They have not done anything. Like, they don’t stand for anything. And I just don’t see the point anymore.
There are people that are exciting. Bernie was exciting, Cynthia was exciting, and Alexandria is exciting. So would I vote in the future? I don’t know. If somebody came along that was exciting like that? Yeah. Probably.
Anna | Age 21 | New York, New York | Has Never Voted
I’m trying to register in my hometown of Austin, Texas. It’s such a tedious process to even get registered in Texas, let alone vote as an absentee. There’s no notification service about the status of my voter registration. There’s a small, outdated website where you can enter your information and check. When I was at the post office to register, this poor girl, clearly also a college student like me, didn’t know what “postmarked” meant and had no idea how to send an important document by mail. Most people my age have zero need to go to the post office and may have never stepped into one before. Honestly, if someone had the forms printed for me and was willing to deal with the post office, I’d be much more inclined to vote.
Thomas | Age 28 | New York, New York | Last Voted: September 2018, New York Democratic Primary
I vote when I feel like I have to. But I mostly consider it something that sucks a lot of people’s time and energy away from actually building power with the people around them.
New York especially has a pretty vibrant tenant-organizing scene. You see organizing around community gardens, around people protesting new development going in, people working against rezoning. Regardless of the outcome of those things, I think people leave with a sense of empowerment. You might have failed this fight, but now you know your neighbor. Now you have a whole network you can call up the next time this happens. But if you lose an election, or the candidate you’re pushing loses, then what do you have after that? You have this kind of despair for the next two or four or whatever years.
If we get to a blue wave in the midterms and then things just continue on, people will feel deflated and check out. Which is why I think you’ve got to have something besides just strategic voting, or people resigning themselves to a candidate they don’t love but who is at least a Democrat.
In 2008, I was extremely enthusiastic to vote for Barack Obama. But over the years, I started to understand the electoral system as exactly how I’ve characterized it. For a while, I thought it was an immoral act to vote. It means that we’re giving our approval to a system that I totally do not want to validate. Over the years, I’ve started to think maybe we don’t have to frame this so much as an individual act with these moral consequences and that I need to stop being so dramatic about it. So, for instance, I voted for Cynthia Nixon in the primary recently. I teach at CUNY. Insofar as she was in a position where she could have been elected and made a difference in this, yes, I’ll take the five minutes out of my day to go vote. But it’s not something that we should, as a society, be making the horizon of our political organizing.
My polling place is at the end of my block. It takes no time at all; it’s an extremely easy process. But I think that’s also what makes it seem sort of alienating and anticlimactic. You go in and you’re like, “This is the climax of democracy,” like, the sticker on my chest is the climax of democracy.
Jocelyn | Age 27 | Arlington, Massachusetts | Last Voted: 2016
It was easier to get my medical-marijuana card — not a right, or even federally legal — than it was to register to vote. Massachusetts had online registration but only if you have a DMV-issued ID. I don’t drive, so I was like, okay, I can register in person, but I’m also dealing with a chronic illness. Every day is a guessing game: Am I going to feel up to doing anything today? I put it off. The week before the deadline, I ended up being really sick and I wasn’t able to leave home. You can send in your registration by mail, but I didn’t have stamps. I kept thinking that I shouldn’t have to jump through this many hoops to register. Back in July, I’d gotten a medical-marijuana card to treat my chronic illness. The entire thing is done online — it’s the same requirements as registering to vote.
Maria | Age 26 | Conway, Arkansas | Last Voted: 2012
Growing up, going to Catholic school, everything we learned had a skew on it. Whenever we were taught about voting or political issues, it was not about learning the issues and matching what you feel personally, it was, “This is what the Catholic Church teaches, and this is how you should vote or you’re wrong.” I think that shaped me to hate politics and not want to be involved.
The idea of leaving work, forwarding all of my calls to my phone, to go stand in line for four hours, to probably get called back to work before I even get halfway through the line, sounds terrible. I would have to tell work, “Hey, I’m not coming in until noon today,” and in the end, if it’s not something I’m extremely passionate about, do I want to spend four hours of vacation doing something I don’t quite want to do?
There are issues I care about: immigration, access to health care. Women’s reproductive rights is a big one — because I could never imagine taking away anyone else’s choice.
Nathan | Age 28 | San Diego, California | Last Voted: 2016
You’re not prepared for all the candidates. You’re sent things in the mail, but as a 28-year-old, I read everything online. I love that literally everyone is promoting actually registering to vote, but it’s never how to vote or the steps to voting or what you do next after you’ve registered to vote. After that, it kind of just drops off and you’re left in the dark, like, I don’t know what to do next, you know?
My parents are of the generation where they actually watch the news, and they know about candidates via the news. Where my generation, the millennial generation, is getting all their news from social media like Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, and that is not always the best. Reading things through social media is snippets, and it’s not the whole details on everything, you know?
It’s a wild theory, but setting voting up so that it’s all on social media, putting all that information in just an Instagram Story, in a Snapchat filter or whatever — bulleted-out, easy-to-read, digestible content — would encourage me to vote. Just maybe it’s a social-media page or an Instagram page where it gives daily facts about how to do things or DIYs on how to vote for yourself, something like that. Just to make it easily digestible to a younger audience that’s on social media, ’cause that’s how they digest their information.
*A version of this article appears in the October 29, 2018, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!
Here are all the ridiculous write-in candidates that Clackamas County voted for
There are few things more sacred to a functional democracy than the right to vote, but what you do with that right is up to you. In Tuesday’s election, just 16.25 percent of registered voters in Clackamas County — 44,174 out of 271,779 — actually made it to the polls.
Of those nearly 45,000 voters, some took their civic responsibility more seriously than others, as seen in the somewhat ludicrous choices of their write-in candidates.
Here are the people, animated characters and inanimate objects you voted for Clackamas County. Yay democracy?
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
It’s unclear whether his undisputed rule over the Magic Kingdom provided the type of executive experience a politician needs to serve in office, but that didn’t stop voters from writing in Mickey Mouse to be their next director of the Colton Fire District, the South Clackamas Transportation District and the Canby Area Parks & Recreation District.
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for The Foundation for Women
The former first lady and would-be President from 2016 was picked twice, with two different spellings, to be the director of the Canby Area Parks & Recreation District.
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It’s possible that a voter just forgot to add a last name to this write-in candidate. It’s also possible they were swayed by the “vote Pedro” campaign from the movie “Napoleon Dynamite.”
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon
Do you really want a professional wrestler to be your next director of the Canby Area Parks & Recreation District? At least one of you does.
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Paul Morigi/Getty Images for National Wildlife Federation
Out of all the wacky write-ins for a Parks & Recreation director, this one actually makes the most sense despite the fact that he’s a comic book character. And also a raccoon.
This egghead also received a vote for the Canby Parks & Rec director job, which is questionable given his reputation for hunting animals.
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Drew Angerer/Getty Images
As far as we know, the 44th vice president and winner of zero spelling bees doesn’t have any plans to reenter the political arena, but if he does the voters of Clackamas County are ready and waiting.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Perhaps this one Clackamas County voter was just trying to split the vote between two more popular candidates?
Gerardo Mora/Getty Images
She’s only made a handful of public appearances since she moved out of the White House and she’s said repeatedly she won’t be running for any sort of office, but some folks in Clackamas County would like to see her become the next director of the Lake Grove Fire district.
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Want a “wascally wabbit” running the Boring Water District? Someone does.
If you think anthropomorphized cartoon rabbit seems unfit to run the Boring Water District, why not pick a cartoon princess instead? At least one person did.
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images
The former Beatle was one of a star-studded lineup of folks receiving votes to become the director of the Estacada Cemetery District…
McCartney’s bandmate Ringo also got a vote…
Roy Kerwood/Wikimedia Commons
As did the most famous Beatle. We’re not sure why George Harrison got left off the ballot.
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Bonzo the chimp
One voter was looking for more nuanced leadership of the Estacada Cemetery District and thusly voted for Bonzo the chimp, made famous by the 1951 film “Bedtime for Bonzo,” starring former President Ronald Reagan. The chimp who played Bonzo, a female named Peggy, actually almost strangled the 40th President during an on-set mishap, so if you were voting for someone to shake up politics as usual, Peggy/Bonzo is a pretty good choice.
An animated ’90s icon from MTV as director of the South Clackamas Transportation District? Sure, why not?
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Did you really think Butt-Head would make the ballot without his trusty counterpart? Think again.
He’s a professor of archaeology, an avid adventure seeker and a certifiable stud, why not add director of the South Clackamas Transportation District to his already stellar resume?
Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian
Admittedly, this is the least entertaining of all the write-ins.
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Do you really want a transportation director who is always angry but never wears pants? Apparently, one of you does.
Would Santa make for a good politician? Seems like he would be generous with tax breaks, but we’re concerned about his reliance on coal.
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Vic Brincat/Wikimedia Commons
Someone voted for pool. Not a person named Pool, just pool. We also vote for pool! All hail pool!
Why funny write-in names on ballots aren’t a laughing matter
Written by Karen Shuey
There are always a few Mickeys, and a Donald or two.
Louie and Dewey made the cut this year, but for some reason not Huey. And we can’t forget Batman.
Every election a handful of voters, to their own delight, forgo the choices on the ballot and instead write in a funny name.
But there is nothing amusing about it for the poll workers who have to stay late into the night to count them all.
“Taking the time to write down entries that you know are not legitimate can be very frustrating,” said Scott Naugle, a Windsor Township resident who has monitored the polls in Hamburg’s second precinct for the past five years. “I honestly think people who do it as a joke have no clue that there are people like me who have to record it all that night.”
Berks County Election Services director Debbie Olivieri said she understands the frustration that many poll workers feel.
“There are a lot of candidates who do legitimate write-in campaigns, so we have to take every entry seriously,” she said. “Unfortunately, there are some people who write silly things that take the poll workers quite a bit of time to sort through on election night.”
It also costs taxpayers money, since poll workers are compensated for their work.
According to county election results posted online, there were about 7,000 write-in votes tallied last month when voters headed to the polls to cast ballots in contests for a variety of local offices as well as a few state judicial posts.
A review by the Reading Eagle found nearly 300 of those entries weren’t legitimate. They included names of fictional characters such as Bugs Bunny or celebrities including Gary Busey. And the overwhelming majority of those – 232 to be exact – were designated by the county as voided submissions.
“Those are the entries that we really would rather not see in print,” Olivieri explained, implying they contained something offensive.
In the precinct Naugle oversaw in the May primary, there were 68 write-in votes. That represents 40 percent of all the votes cast that day.
Naugle said he recognizes that some voters are expressing their dissatisfaction with the candidates who are running, like the person who wrote “none!” in each contest on the ballot. And some are communicating their opposition to the office up for election itself, like the person who wrote “taxation is thievery” in the tax collector race.
But, he said, there are better ways to send a message.
“There’s a place at the ballot at the very bottom where you can leave it blank and still get credit for voting,” he said. “I think a blank ballot would pretty much say everything that needs to be said.”
Contact Karen Shuey: 610-371-5081 or [email protected]
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Register to Vote Roll is a bait and switch prank in which a social media post advertises a viral or sensational news story, essentially clickbait, but the included link leads to a voter registration form.
The earliest known usage of the prank was posted by Twitter user @AshleeMPreston on October 12th, 2018. The tweet read, “Welp…it’s official…Kim Kardashian finally decided to divorce Kanye West… https://bit.ly/2de38pb.” The link, however, went to Vote.org.
Two days later, on October 14th, Twitter user @cigelske tweeted about the breakup of comedian Pete Davidson and singer Ariana Grande, which led to another voter registration website. The tweet received more than 40,000 retweets and 63,000 likes in three days (shown below, left).
According to a blogpost by @cigelske, prominent public people, such as Colin Hanks and Bill Simmons, shared the tweet, which helped increase its reach (shown below, center and right). According to the post, the link has been clicked more than 1.4 million times.
The tweet inspired others to devise their own clickbait that leads to voter registration forms (example below).
Several media outlets coverd the trend, including Mashable, The Daily Dot and more.
Elle Magazine Controversy
On October 18th, 2018, the official Twitter account for Elle magazine posted a variation of the meme, advertising that “Kim Kadashian and Kanye West are splitting up.” The post received more than 2,600 retweets and 3,900 votes in 24 hours (shown below).
Many did not appreciate the prank, however. Reporter Parker Molloy tweeted, “Can people please stop doing that thing where they post a salacious headline that links to a voter registration page? Like… this… is really not cool. It’s just spreading misinformation.” The tweet received more than 75 retweets and 500 likes in 24 hours (shown below, left).
Author Roxane Gay tweeted, “This is trash nonsense. Who do you think you are reaching with this? Guess what? One can be civic minded and interested in celebrity gossip. Do better.” The tweet received more than 100 retweets and 2,700 likes in 24 hours (shown below, center).
Writer Liz Wolfe tweeted, “You assholes. This combines three things I absolutely hate: people shitting on Kim and Kanye’s relationship, misleading headlines, and people’s foolish obsession with get-out-the-vote efforts & civic duty (when REALLY tons of people are terribly low information voters)” (shown below, right).
Several media outlets covered the backlash, including Uproxx, The Daily Dot and more.
Know Your Meme Store
Twitter – @AshleeMPreston’s Tweet
Vote.org – Register to vote
Twitter – @cigelske’s Tweet
Medium – My viral clickbait moment
Mashable – This meme is tricking people into visiting the voter registration website
The Daily Dot – Clickbait Meme Tricks People Into Registering to Vote
Twitter – @ELLEMagazine’s Tweet
Twitter – @ParkerMolloy’s Tweet
Twitter – @rgay’s Tweet
Twitter – @lizzywol’s Tweet
UPROXX – ‘Elle’ Teased Fake Kim-Kanye Split To Boost Voter Registration
The Daily Dot – ‘Elle’ completely botches the voter registration meme
In the ever-increasing battle for the attention of young voters at the federal election, war is being waged by the major parties one share and one Facebook react at a time. But in recent years a new battle front has emerged, one that social media experts predict could be used even more prominently in years to come. Welcome to the world of Australian political memes. In the weeks leading up to the federal election, Facebook pages in support of major parties have been churning out memes – online photos or videos often referencing pop culture and shared with slight variations – to reach voters. In many cases, memes in reference to other topics, from Game of Thrones to the latest viral video, have been repurposed to reference Australian political issues to varying levels of social media success. Michael Trembath is the admin of the meme page Australian Green Memes for Actually Progressive Teens, which has more than 16,000 likes on Facebook. He said memes were able reach young voters in ways traditional advertising could never do. “Memes get straight to the point, they distill a complex news story or policy with lots of nuances into something that’s easily digestible and understood,” Mr Trembath said. “Memes are relatively new to elections, but they get bigger and bigger. They can impact, promote and inform people about politics.” Memes are submitted by contributors and the page’s admins then select which ones to feature prominently. Mr Trembath said recency and relevancy were key to making a perfect meme. “A successful meme is all in the timing, so a meme referencing breaking news is going to work better,” he said. “Memes about the Egg Boy incident just after it happened had a big groundswell of likes.” While the meme pages themselves aren’t run by officials connected to political parties, they’re often operated by party supporters. Just as the major parties have engaged in political slanging matches on the campaign trail, so, too, have the meme pages in support of the Liberals and Labor. A meme page in support of the Liberals, Innovative and Agile Memes, and one in support of Labor, the ALP Spicy Meme Stash, regularly engage in online battles. Innovative and Agile Memes, which has more than 36,000 likes, was set up in support of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull before the 2016 election. The page name is a nod to Mr Turnbull’s constant references to how Australia had to be an innovative and agile country during the 2016 election campaign. The Liberal leadership may have changed hands to Scott Morrison in 2018, but the page still regularly churns out memes in support of the party. The page’s admin, who declined to be named, said political memes had filtered through from Facebook groups into the official pages of political parties. “Take a look at the Liberal Party of Australia page. Either there’s someone running that page that loves Game of Thrones so much they’re willing to put their job on the line to give some free promos, or the parties are beginning to realise just how effective a good meme can be at spreading a message,” the admin said. “Conventional advertising can’t sell a feeling quite like a meme can. “Memes can sell the positives and push the negatives of an individual politician in a more specific and in a more casualised manner than any political ad ever could.” A representative from the ALP Spicy Meme Stash declined to comment. Political communication and digital media expert at the University of Melbourne Scott Wright said while memes might support a particular political party, their creation outside of campaign headquarters made it seem a more authentic form of advertising. “While campaign-created memes are clearly important, the more effective memetic content tends to come from outside of the formal campaigns,” Dr Wright said. “In the era of paid reach on social media, memes have the potential to jump outside the filter bubble and spread virally.” Dr Wright said many memes pushed out by the Facebook pages played into the political cycle. “A secondary type of meme is where a party picks up on key campaign issues, such as the preference deal between Clive Palmer and the Liberal Party, and can user this to create easily shareable, funny images and short clips that feed into the story,” he said. While the rise of memes as an election tool has exploded in recent years, they aren’t without their downsides. Dr Wright said many memes pushed out to Facebook pages in support of political parties were preaching to the converted, and the success of the memes in winning over new voters depended on if they were shared with people outside of those groups. “The hope is that a follower will share it to their wall and others will see it, but algorithm changes seem to have made this more difficult,” he said. “Viewing memes might have some small influence on a swing voter, for example, if one leader or party or policy is constantly ridiculed or attacked, but this is likely not just by memes but a broader suite of tools being deployed.” It isn’t just pages in support of political parties pushing out memes for the election. Unaffiliated pages are also using them to sway support. The Simpsons Against the Liberals, a Facebook page using memes that mix The Simpsons with Australian politics that has more than 100,000 likes, has been creating memes since 2014. Since the election was called, the page has turned its attention to content surrounding the federal poll and getting young people to register to vote. ” part of the language of campaigning. If you want people to push forth your issues, you need to be able to talk to them the way they know how,” an admin for the page said. “We want to make politics more accessible. Often it goes above people’s heads and can be seen as too difficult to understand . “Politics affects everyone, and everyone should be given the tools to understand how they’re affected by the government.” With the election just days away, meme use by Facebook pages as well as official parties will increase in an effort to win over predominantly younger voters. And while their use as a campaign tool has exploded, Mr Trembath said their use was only going to increase with every subsequent poll. “Memes are relatively new to elections but they’re getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “The general political discourse isn’t just the traditional newspaper or TV. There’s also social media components and it’s going to be a growing influence.”