Over at Patrol Magazine David Sessions asks about "evangelicals and nonpartisan piety," arguing that the new language of 'bi-partisan' or 'non-partisan' tends to be more about cool, inclusive vagary than the actual practice of principled politics. One hopes the two aren't exclusive, but his point is instructive: if the American left has a political allergy to the previous generation's strident religious right, the cure is not to stay home.
In Canada we've just gone through a major federal election, in which I heard many Christians proudly proclaim (usually over Facebook) they were either spoiling their ballots or voting with their noses plugged. A pious religious person can often be heard lamenting, "No political party represents my views."
Is this piety, or is this self-satisfied individualism run amuck? The point of a political party is not to mirror specific constituents' convictions, but rather to present an overall compromise of positions that gathers the most support of the electorate. In short: a good party platform should make everyone miserable.
Ray Pennings says in "Irrigating the Desert" that if you want to play in the sandbox, you're going to get dirty. I agree with senior people in the Prime Minister's Office whom I've heard place higher value on hours spent pounding campaign lawn signs than hours spent writing doctoral dissertations—not because they undervalue the latter, but because people who've pounded signs know the value of proximate justice.
The world needs more pious idealists. But it needs those pious idealists to roll up their sleeves and go shoulder-to-shoulder with people who don't share all their convictions.
This iswhat I like about Session's argument
: don't let cool non-partisan mojo mask your convictions. Join a party. Cast a vote. Pound a sign. Mature citizens make mature democracy.