Vote Like a Baby
For reasons I’d rather not guess, the Texas Right to Life mailed us the above advertisement. When you flip it over, you see it’s an endorsement of Scott Turner for the TX State House. Babies like Scott, I suppose. Upon seeing the front, my wife asked the obvious question: what baby are we talking about?
Obviously, the imperative “vote like a baby” is supposed to mean “vote pro-life,” and yet the ad itself, which features a child closer to a year of age instead of a baby in the womb, suggests a voting ethic that takes more into consideration than just abortion. This cheerful, flag-waving baby has more at stake than not being killed. Perhaps the election of Scott Turner isn’t in his interest.
Our little friend betrays the ethical complexity of voting. The ad invites us to vote according to the baby’s interests rather than our own, but what are the interests of this baby? Does he have adequate healthcare coverage? Are his parents gainfully employed? Are those ill-fitting jeans indicative of clothing needs? How a baby would vote would depend on the needs of the individual baby, and not only needs, but wants. A skilled candidate could capture the baby vote by promising universal access to household items parents don’t want damaged or destroyed by their curious offspring. Actually, scratched out what I said before: were we to predict baby voting patterns, we’d want to look exclusively at wants.
Ethically speaking, voting is rarely simple and straightforward. I have to balance my civic responsibilities to the common good with my personal responsibilities for those in my care. While I have a greater responsibility for my children than for the children of others, voting is specifically a civic act for which I am ideally supposed to think of others and not just of my family and our own circumstances and needs. And yet… It sounds nice to say that I should always be altruistic when voting–it sounds nice, but it isn’t true.
So, yeah, vote like a baby. Whatever that ethically means to you.