Vote for Higher Purpose

The late Senior Senator from Arizona John McCain wrote that:

Human rights exist above the state and beyond history. They cannot be rescinded by one government any more than they can be granted by another. They inhabit the human heart, and from there, though they may be abridged, they can never be extinguished.

He was considered a “maverick”, because he sometimes voted against his party, when conscience—or his primary allegiance to the Constitution and the People of the United States—required him to. Honorable service requires recognizing that some things are more important than political parties.

Human rights matter more than political parties. Adherence to the Oath of Office—to serve the Constitution of the United States well and honorably and not to put personal or factional interest above the law—is clearly an ethical responsibility higher than partisan interest and beyond the political moment.

No legitimate political institution can have as its purpose the propagation of hate and violence. If anyone is subject to such degradation, all of our freedoms are less secure. There is nothing partisan about the basic moral obligation to reject hate and all that comes with it.

We are responsible for what we know:

  • A vital tool for knowing the difference between voting your conscience or taking a factional stance is critical thinking: the ability to see through distortions to the core meaning of a communication.
  • That you may prefer a candidate or a party does not mean you should welcome their distorting the information you receive.
  • To serve honorably as citizens, we need to be honest about how partisan distortions make solving important problems harder.
  • If you don’t know very much about a subject, don’t assume rhetoric that appeals to you tells the whole story; to underinform your conscience can affect people you will never meet, in deep and personal ways.

Ask any child if a person who has been injured should receive assistance, and they will likely express some shock before saying “Yes, right away.” It should not be—by any political or moral standard—an issue of controversy whether any person should have full and timely access to the best quality of medical care available.

Access to healthcare should not be a partisan controversy.

The Preamble to the Constitution states that the Constitution, and so the country and its laws, exist to:

establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…

The 9th Amendment to the Constitution protects all rights people might reasonably have, ensuring protections of human rights, wellbeing, freedom, and dignity, are not limited to those explicitly protected by law. Rights supersede powers, in American law.

The right to remain free from pollution is clearly protected by the overall structure and logic of the Constitution. Government cannot align with those who seek to profit by harming others. The 9th and 10th Amendments, as well as the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection, make sure of this.

On Friday, the federal lawsuit known as Juliana v. United States was approved by the Supreme Court to move to trial. Only 2 of the 9 Justices (Thomas and Gorsuch) are reported to have been inclined to grant the government’s request for a stay.

The question of whether it is proper to knowingly support practices that create harm to defenseless people, now or in the future, is not partisan. It is a basic, universal moral principle: If you wish to be treated as having the right not to suffer undue harm, then you should never bring undue harm to others.

Wars have been fought over this principle for all of history; the United States of America was established in order to bring into being, for the first time, a republic under law based on this standard. (It would take 80 more years until slavery was abolished, and another 60 years after that until women won the right to vote, but the guiding logic was there from the start: no power is above the law.)

“Human rights exist above the state and beyond history.”

The process for granting asylum to people fleeing persecution is not a partisan question. It is a matter of whether our laws meet this higher standard of transcendent ethics, where rights supersede powers.

  • If a tyrannical government uses violence to silence dissent (to make democracy unachievable) or wages a campaign of genocide, some of the fortunate or daring will attempt to reach refuge outside the country.
  • Their request for asylum must be received, by law, because any attempt to preempt such requests provides direct material support to tyrants and their campaign of violent oppression.
  • Where asylum seekers are fleeing violent criminal gangs, a preemptive block of asylum requests helps those criminal organizations use violence and threats to enforce their will on vulnerable people.
  • The process for granting asylum to refugees is a fundamental safeguard of democracy and human rights.

Your vote could save a human life, or many lives. Your vote could be the front line of defense of the core principles of our democracy. Your vote could determine whether families are forced to endure brutal torture at the hands of despots a world away.

To not vote is to withhold your conscience from service. To vote without deep consideration for the wider ramifications of underthought partisan combat can put what you most value at risk.

Make sure to vote. Make sure to think beyond party, faction, or bias. Make sure to vote for higher purpose.

Everything depends on it.


If you need to know anything more about your ballot, your local polling place, or how to vote, use this Informed Voter’s Guide from ProPublica.

The featured image on this page is the entry to the Library of Congress. It is the largest library in the world. It was established to serve as a foundation for a national civic process informed by research, learning, and creative cultural renewal, and to keep track of the vast landscape of invention that comes with the guarantee that all minds and voices are free.

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