The outcome of the 2000 presidential race was eventually decided by a mere 537 votes in the closely contested state of Florida. It makes me wonder what might have happened if Mennonites there would have just stayed at home on election day? Assuming most of them voted for the party that prevailed (as the majority of Mennos elsewhere did) would that alone have changed the outcome?
If so, here are four additional hypothetical questions:
Would there have been an Iraq war, the longest in US history next to the Afghan conflict, and one
that has resulted in the loss of over 4000 American lives, plus some
40,000 service men and women being psychologically and/or physically
maimed for life--along with Iraqi casualties numbering in the hundreds
of thousands? Perhaps some Mennonites would argue that deposing Saddam
Hussein was worth that and more, but imposing regime change by military
means has never been advocated by a peace church like ours. And
regrettably, in the instability that has followed, large numbers of
Christians who were formerly able to practice their faith in relative
peace have since had to flee Iraq for their own safety, leaving a large
vacuum as far as a Christian witness in that part of the world.
2. Would the US national debt have begun to spiral out of control as
it did after 2000 as a result of sizable tax cuts that turned a
national budget surplus into a rapidly growing deficit, and because of
the enormous cost of waging two simultaneous wars?
3. Would the US have ratified the Kyota Protocol, with potentially
significant implications for the future well being of the planet? The
actual merits of the treaty and the evidence that supports its
provisions can always be debated, of course, but the fact of it not
passing in part as an indirect result of the Florida vote is certainly a
4. Would the makeup of the Supreme Court have been altered, thus
affecting, for example, the outcome of the recent Citizens United case
(which gives corporations the status of "people" who can make unlimited
campaign contributions), adding to the loss of civility and
accountability in current and future political campaigns?
We will never know the answers to such speculative questions, but I
welcome comments and further conversation on whether our voting as
Mennonites may not sometimes have major unintended consequences.
P. S. Here's a link to an earlier piece, An Election Reflection.