What does it mean to live a deliberate life?
Here on the site, we talk about ways to live deliberately with our:
Hearts – in our relationships and inner lives
Heads – in the thoughts and beliefs that shape our world
Hands – in pursuing our giftings and seeking the good of others
One of the most powerful tools we have to shape our world as an outworking of each of these three areas is, for those of us in democratic countries, our vote.
We vote as an manifestation of the world we want to see – for ourselves, and for others. That desired world will naturally be shaped by the nature of each of these three aspects of our lives.
We vote based on what is close to our heart, who we care about, and who we best understand and relate to. We vote based on what we believe and understand about the best ways to build a healthy society. We vote based on what we believe will best secure the good of others, and enable us to best contribute and thrive in our world.
We should absolutely be deliberate about the way we vote.
Unfortunately, however, it can sometimes be difficult to cut through all the noise that comes along with elections and politics. How can we assess different parties, and discern which will align most with the kind of world we want to be a part of building? With a federal election looming in my own country, and major elections underway in others, here are a few framework ideas for considering that question:
In general terms, political parties form when a group of people have a broadly similar vision of:
- what the ideal society looks like, and
- the role of the government in realising that vision.
In comparing parties, we can ask questions such as:
- Does the party have a vision of government that is bigger or smaller?
- Do they advocate more or less regulation of industries?
- What does the party feel is the appropriate and desired vision of the tax system in terms of how taxes are applied, and how they are used?
A party’s underlying philosophy is also influenced by the historical ties a party has to certain sectors, such as unions, farming, business, etc. The underlying philosophy of a party matters because you are voting not just for the policies that are currently on the table, but also the future policy directions the party may take.
Voting for the party whose underlying philosophy most aligns with your own means there is the greater likelihood that as-yet-unknown policies of the future may be in keeping with your view of how society should be governed.
General Approach and Track Record on ‘Morally-Charged’ Issues
Political parties tend to have different track records in their approaches to a range of ‘morally-charged’ issues.
These can be ‘progressive’ issues such as gender equality, abortion or same-sex marriage.
They can be ‘compassion’ issues such as approaches to the vulnerable, marginalised and powerless in society.
They can be ‘economic’ issues such as what is considered ethical or acceptable in regard to issues of economic inequality, and the role of the government, if any, in addressing that.
These are imperfect terms, for want of better, more neutral ones.
Understanding the approach each party has traditionally taken to issues that take their cues from moral underpinnings can help you find the party that most closely aligns with your own moral values.
In addition to the elements mentioned above, there are also the general leanings of a party in regard to taxes, redistribution, privatisation, incentives, debt, subsidies, allowances, and a raft of economic management strategies, which should inform which party you believe best positions the nation to thrive, in all regards, over the short and long term.
Decision-Making and Leadership Approach
Finally, there can be differences in political parties as to their approach to decision-making and leadership, which should inform who you believe is best positioned for wise policy-making. Are they more consultative, or more top-down? Do they allow members to hold and vote different positions on contentious decisions? Do they tend to believe the public should be led by policy-making, or that policy-making should reflect the majority wishes of the public? Which groups most heavily speak into their policy making? In their decision- and policy-making process, do they tend to be more transparent, or more opaque?