Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Spiritual Voter's Guide

A Spiritual Voter's Guide
by Corinne McLaughlin

You are welcome to replicate this guide and circulate it widely. The comprehensive questions below are designed to be a guide for deeper reflection, based on regular discussions in the media and political circles.

If you care about your life, if you care about the life of other human beings, if you care about all life on this planet—answer the call of your soul to vote. Our lives literally depend on how we vote. As Americans, we have an important responsibility this Fall to vote in the elections. (If you’re a resident of another democratic country, see if the questions below are helpful in your situation or adapt them to fit.)

As you know, our political leaders and our media pay very close attention not only to who wins, but also to how close is the margin of victory. This is how they evaluate how much popular support there is for policies such as continuing the war, addressing global warming, restricting rights in order to pursue terrorists, regulating unethical corporate behavior, etc.

In a democracy, it is a spiritual responsibility to vote. Over 90% of the American people say they are guided by spiritual values or faith, but less than 50% of the American people vote in any Presidential election and much less in other elections. If we are committed to living by spiritual values, we must bring them into the voting booth, and educate ourselves about the candidates and the issues.

Spirituality can have a major impact on politics and elections, and politics can make our spirituality grounded and practical. If spiritual people don’t become engaged politically, we will be exploited by those whose only concern is self-interest. And we may lose our democracy. The upcoming elections present us with an important opportunity to decide what direction we want our country to go in, and they will have a major impact on our children’s future.

You may want to skip some questions or there may be other questions that are important to you personally that you’d like to include and reflect on:


Please check if applicable:

1. I know where this candidate stands on at least the three major issues of the campaign____

2. I have researched the candidate’s positions on his/her website (or a non-partisan informational site such as
vote-smart.org) and/or read the full text of some of his/her speeches____

3. I have heard a speech of the candidate’s on C-SPAN or seen an in-depth interview____

4. I have watched a debate between this candidate and his/her opponent____

5. I have read alternative sources of information on this candidate____

6. I have relied only on the major media’s perception of this candidate____

7. I have relied only on hearsay from friends about this candidate____


Based on media reports as well as your intuition from watching them in action, please rate on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing a very low score, and 10 the highest:

1. Is this candidate motivated by a spirit of service rather than self-interest?____

2. Is s/he generally fair and honest with colleagues and with the public?____

3. Has s/he been courageous in promoting causes that may not be popular, but which are s/he believes are

4. Has s/he followed through on previous campaign promises made?____

5. Does s/he treat his/her staff and colleagues well?____

6. Is his/her personal life reasonably in line with ethical standards of behavior?____

7. Is s/he collaborative and bipartisan in his/her approach when needed, searching for common ground?____

8. Is his/her approach based on a long-term perspective that serves the good of the whole (in contrast to short-
term, political expediency)?____

9. Is s/he open-minded to new ideas and practical solutions?____

10. Does s/he demonstrate compassion for the disadvantaged?____

11. Does s/he demonstrate tolerance for diversity—racial, sexual, religious?____

12. Does s/he have a clear vision about for the future?____


Review the candidate’s stand on as many major issues as you can (e.g. war, taxes, the environment, etc.). Answer these questions for each issue, answering either yes or no—or rate them from 1 to 10, with l meaning “not at all” and 10 meaning “fully”:

1. Does this policy serve the good of the whole?____

2. Will it protect the sacredness of life--human, animal, plant, mineral?____

3. Will it be healthy and sustainable for future generations world-wide?____

4. Is it fair to all parties concerned?____

5. Does it offer equal opportunities and/or access?____

6. Does it promote dignity and respect?____

7. Does it promote the health and well-being of all citizens?____

8. Does it increase political participation of more citizens?____

9. Does it help alleviate poverty or economic injustice?____

10. Does it protect the disadvantaged?____

11. Does it protect diversity or human rights?____

12. Does it encourage responsibility?____

13. Does it protect people’s freedom?____

14. Does it promote tolerance and prevent violence?____

15. Will it help citizens find deeper fulfillment or meaning in life?____

16. Is it practical and effective?_____

Corinne McLaughlin is Executive Director of the Center for Visionary Leadership and co-author of Spiritual Politics, and has taught politics at American University. (www.visionarylead.org).

No comments:

Post a Comment