0 votes
by (260 points)
What are some of the views you all have on voting when one lives in a democratic nation?

Voting by nature makes issues black and white. The constructs it makes issue of are definitely not black and white. However, the bigger picture of voting can impact thousands of lives, but yet again, as much as it benefits some, it beleaguers others. Do you all practice voting (if your place of residence allows), and if so how do you weigh the issues at hand, broadly speaking? Is it best to be neutral, and not play into the politics, like some monks; or to engage one’s civic duty for the interest of the majority? There are some blogs about this out there, but was curious what some of you here might have to say about democracy.

(For topical reference I reside in the USA currently)

3 Answers

0 votes
by (2.0k points)

I have not read any sutta relating to voting or getting involved in politics so I cannot give you any sutta reference only personal opinion using critical thinking.

All actions are based upon intent, if you intend to vote ask yourself why and if that answer is based upon reason and benefit to others then your action will not be unvirtuous.

That being said politics is a system of greed/attachment/clinging, one of the 3 poisons and specifically Democracy of all the political systems is inherently corrupt by it's nature, it breeds greed and corruption. In a simplistic form if you vote for X and that person then starts war or harms people, technically you are (partly) responsible for that persons position of being able to create war or harm. Possibly a part of wrong livelihood (non involvement in war).

As well as a simple explanation in democracy, you and 51% of others vote for X while 49% of others vote for X you have inadvertently caused 49% of the populace to not get what they desire possibly causing them harm.

This is a simplistic explanation and the intricacies of karma are not to be pondered upon but the effect of your action of voting isn't to hard to see its result especially in a 2 party system like USA democracy.

I personally do not get involved with politics at all as it is a trivial pursuit mainly engaged by people with strong desire for wealth, power and dominion and rarely if ever with intent to benefit others. Focusing more on pursuits of freeing ourselves from this prison is a more worthwhile effort.

Just to add a more personal critical observation towards your predicament. USA people are brainwashed at school as a child to "believe" in democracy, patriotism and nationalism, so maybe for you it would be wise to iron out and dichotomise these mental formations to ascertain if these thoughts and concepts are your own desires or just social requirements you feel bound to.

Read the kalama sutta

by (260 points)
Ah, thank you; this makes sense.
Basically, it seems to boil down to: don’t vote because you’re told it’s necessary, but also, don’t *not* vote because you’re told it’s bad; simply realize that the entire predicament of voting/non voting is unnecessary (correct me if wrong).
It is a pretty deeply ingrained tradition here, same with nationalism; both only ever strengthen the concepts of “self” and “others.” You also get shamed here if you don’t “take advantage” of your civic “right” to vote; thus voting becomes more an obligation and burden.
by (2.0k points)
I think more than anything it would be best for you to make up your own mind on the virtues and unvirtues of voting. Of course listen to others opinions but make up your own conclusions.
Ethics is more of a personal thing because quite frankly even from the Buddhas teachings and Buddhist perspective there is no good or bad! Only actions and effects.
Good an bad are just mental concepts, mental formations, they are fabrications that do not exist inherently and/or independent of your mental formations (dependant origination)
All there is, is actions and effects, causes and results from those causes. Karma.

Again I personally do not vote because of using critical thinking, seeing how unvirtuous democracy is, how many people I have seen wiped of the face of the earth in its name (in my short lifetime), the greed, poverty and suffering it creates etc so i do not get involved with it.
Similarly i do not drive cars because of how many living people they kill or damage it causes to the earths atmosphere.
Though I do not scorn or try to convert people who vote or drive cars...I just let them carry on and don't concern myself with their ethics.

Similarly I would suggest for you to come to your own conclusions regarding voting instead of voting because you are "being shamed" to do it or it being an obligation that society forces on you but instead use all avenues of thought from actions and effect to other peoples views (critical thinking) and base your own ethics around that.
Your ethics can still change over your life anyway, they are impermanent.
0 votes
by (17.6k points)
As a layman you have certain duties to the society you live in. Voting to elect leaders is one of them. Voting does not imply that you are making a black and white choice. It simply means you are picking the better candidate out of the choices available.
0 votes
by (2.0k points)
edited by
As for ideal communities (Sangha holding on Vinaya), good householder, settle issues by voting is only one tool of seven for such, and only allowed, to be used, if sure that most would vote in accordance with the Dhamma.

Monks would be encouraged to take part in their community's businesses. Sankharas require maintaining, do not arise, exist, remain without. Yet there is all way to leave a certain Sangha, change it, if possible, or to resist even alone. All could be made rightly or wrongly as well, of course.

Speaking unaffected, of course political incorrect, tools like voting, letting the majority chose, is not wise at all, since it's nature that the majority would go after low and long term harmful. It's by the way a reason why there is no righteous Sangha present in modern, western world.

Voting for something means to approve, requires not only mental Kamma but also Kamma in speech (giving sign). Voting for something one wouldn't approve would be cheating. Voting for harmful, would be unskilful Kamma. For example if one votes for killing or stealing or war, that's ones Kamma. Approve of blameworthy, being actually not, blaming prausworthy... such leads downwardly, and it requires right and deep prove.

As far as knowing, common societies leave it to ones choice to vote or not, and to give an empty or invalide vote is also a possibility.

It's all, of course, a matter how much one depends on ones community, nourishes on it's fruits, regards it as own, or is bond.

The Sublime Buddha didn't go much into common sociaties issues aside of the Kalama Sutta, where a community asked whom to follow. Other duties in relations are pointed out in the Sigala Sutta. And generally, especial opposing one's leaders is Kamma leading downward, toward hell (something everywhere obserable).

Against common ideas the Sublime Buddha didn't see much benefit in pseudo-liberalism and elders, fathers, people of goodness (merits) are proper to be regarded.

A younger leader said some days something to consider: "power (here of media) should not be feared but respected". In the eye of right view and gratitude many things are actually much different as when in mood of wrong view, thinking "i have a right", and ingratitude.

A gift, how ever, to vote, like all gifts, should be, if taken on, used careful and wisely, and it's not required to take on a gift. Sometimes a gift can be to heavy for one, or not of use.

Someone having left societies, lives from what is given in faith, has no more to do with such, and of course it would be improper to take side in regard of worldily preverances.

There are many Suttas explaining the reasons for welfare and prosperity of communities, families, societies, nations and itjs of course a matter on Upanissaya and it's Paccaya where to arise and where to go on.

Unity and peace are, how ever, much below any personal preference, especially under those with equal virtues.
by (260 points)
This was very helpful. What you said about voting being a “gift” answers the question very nicely. Thank you!
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