The Right to Vote, not yet enshrined as an affirmative right in the U.S. Constitution, is sacred for all U.S. citizens.
Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, CSC expressed this powerful and wonderful reality another way: “Voting is a civic sacrament.”
“Voting is a civic sacrament.” = “The Right to Vote is Sacred.”
Voting one’s well-formed and well-informed conscience prudentially is an act of the human person as citizen committed to the Common Good.
This 1.25 inch pewter medallion-coin — easily convertible into a pendant, key chain, brooch, or lapel pin — is written in the font American Scribe which is very similar to the calligraphy of Gouverneur Morris, the “Penman of the Constitution.”
This is indeed the perfect gift in this election year for all the former, future, and frequent voters in your life!
Hand Cast using the Processes and Traditions of Early American Craftsmen
The American pewter company which casts this medallion-coin researched and still uses the colonial processes and traditions of early American craftsmen. In 1976 this company produced early American trade items for the Bicentennial celebrations. Each hand-cast pewter piece is therefore rather “rustic” and has a “colonial” and “early American” look and feel. This medallion-coin looks it could have been struck in silver on September 17, 1787!
An Ideal Gift for All of the Voters in Your Life
This a gift for someone who needs support and encouragement to register to vote; for friends, family and loved ones who are standing in long lines to vote, perhaps in inclement weather (and during a pandemic!); for those who have just voted; for voting rights activists, election experts, and poll workers; for those voted into political office; and for YOU to display proudly on Election Day!
The Perfect Gift for New and First-Time Voters
This is also a wonderful gift for newly naturalized citizens, and especially the perfect birthday gift for those idealistic and energetic 18-year old first-time voters who want to BE and VOTE FOR the change they strive for and want to see in the U.S. and in the world ! The “I VOTED” sticker is great but, oh, so very ephemeral. This medallion-coin will be a lifelong reminder of the first time someone voted — a reminder never to stop voting, never to give up hope, never to quit striving to make our nation and the world a better place!
Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. (1917-2015)
Rev. Theodore Hesburgh was a Roman Catholic priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (C.S.C. – Congregatio a Sancta Cruce). He is best remembered as the longtime president of the University of Notre Dame (1952-1987) as well as a founding and longtime member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (1957-1972). Here he is pictured at a Chicago rally with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King celebrating the recent vote on the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act and singing “We shall overcome!”
Voting is a “civic sacrament”? What does that mean?
Every Christian is familiar with the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion (Eucharist). “Sacrament” comes from the ancient Roman term sacramentum, a soldier’s oath of allegiance to the Roman Emperor. Tertullian, a 3rd-century Christian theologian, argued that just as the soldier’s oath is a sign of beginning one’s new life as a soldier, so too are the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion (Eucharist) sacraments of initiation, sacraments of beginning and deepening one’s new life as a Christian.
Being born or naturalized in the United States (14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) is the civic equivalent of Baptism. Voting is the civic equivalent of Holy Communion (Eucharist). For just as Christians renew and deepen their identity as Christians by partaking in Holy Communion (Eucharist), so also do U.S. citizens renew and deepen their identity as U.S. citizens by voting.
Saint Augustine of Hippo defined “sacrament” as a visible sign of an invisible reality. If the Christian sacrament of Holy Communion is a visible sign of the invisible reality of ever-deepening communion in the Body of Christ, so too then is voting a visible sign of the invisible reality of our becoming ever more Americans, ever more U.S. citizens. Voting is a visible sign of the invisible reality of our ever-deepening initiation into, critical re-appropriation of, and maturing relationship with the U.S. and our Constitution.
Voting is then a “civic sacrament” — the sacramentum in its original meaning as “oath of allegiance” — not to an emperor, but rather to defend and support the U.S. Constitution. As such, voting is the ultimate, absolute, and necessary expression of our U.S. citizenship. By voting, we as U.S. citizens commit ourselves to the American Experiment; to the never-ending project of forming an ever more perfect Union; to “government of the people, by the people, for the people” (Lincoln); to the battle to redeem the Soul of our Nation, to “America, you great unfinished symphony” (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton).
Conscientious, deliberate, and well-informed voting is voting one’s conscience prudentially (that is, by exercising the virtue of prudence to make prudential judgments). Voting one’s conscience is an inalienable right, a patriotic duty, a sacred trust, a holy obligation, a moral imperative, an essential engagement, a real responsibility, a conscious commitment to the Common Good, and the beating heart of our democracy. Voting is and must be the complement, consequence and culmination of public protest. Voting is our superpower!
“The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society.” – Rep. John Lewis (1940-2020)
We make the world we strive for and want to see ever more real by our act of voting.
A Second Reflection: Voting One’s Conscience Prudentially for the Common Good
Voting is always about power, political power, the power to change or maintain policies, programs and personnel. When political candidates receive a winning majority of votes, they become the deciders, the ones who will now be in “the room where it happens.” Voters can vote in candidates who empower or oppress, enlighten or obfuscate, enfranchise or disenfranchise. Voters possess the power and then confer it on elected officials for good or for ill (at least until the next election).
But voters can vote irresponsibly by not informing themselves well and not carefully considering the pros and cons of their vote. And just as problematic: voters can vote amorally by disregarding, unintentionally or intentionally, the ethical and moral consequences of their vote. To vote responsibly, ethically, and morally is to vote one’s conscience by exercising prudence, the virtue by which our practical reason discerns our true good in every circumstance and chooses the right means of achieving it. Conscience is the most secret moral core of every human heart and the inner moral sanctuary which requires ongoing formation in one’s religious or ethical tradition. Following one’s educated conscience is a moral obligation for every human person. Voting prudentially one’s well-formed and well-informed conscience elevates and transforms voting into much more than a simple exercise of power and its conferral on elected officials.
To vote one’s well-formed and well-informed conscience prudentially is to vote for the proper end of voting, the Common Good, whether the voter does so consciously and explicitly or not. According to Louis Dupré, the “Common Good” is the “good proper to, and attainable only by, the community, yet individually shared by its members” [Louis Dupré, “The Common Good and the Open Society,” The Review of Politics (5 August 2009) 55 (4): 687–712]. According to Vatican II, the “Common Good” is “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” [Gaudium et Spes 26 § 1; cf. 74 § 1]. The Common Good is being realized asymptotically by every nation worldwide. Every nation worldwide is moving towards or away from realizing the Common Good.
Our vote is not simply an exercise and conferral of political power, but also our increasingly conscious and conscientious commitment to realize asymptotically the Common Good in and through our nation. We do so in our nation’s ongoing correction and perfection (by amendments), defense, and protection of the U.S. Constitution, our blueprint and “operating instructions” to create a “more perfect union.” We actualize and affirm our U.S.Constitution by voting our consciences prudentially in our local, state, and national elections. We promote the Common Good through our nation every time we vote for country over party.
Voting one’s conscience prudentially for the Common Good operates then on a deep symbolic level as sacrament. A “sacrament” is, according to Saint Augustine of Hippo, “the visible form of an invisible grace.” But “sacrament” can also be understood analogously (and “civically”) as a visible sign of an invisible reality. Just as the Christian sacrament of Holy Communion (Eucharist) is for Christians a visible form of the invisible grace of their ever-deepening communion in the Body of Christ, so too then is voting — for all Americans — a visible sign of the invisible reality of our ever-deepening “communion” in and commitment to the Common Good asymptotically realized in and through our nation’s Constitution.
This election season we are faced with the crucial challenge of standing in long lines during a pandemic, of ensuring that our mail-in ballots are counted if the USPS is hobbled, and of figuratively “crawling over broken glass to vote” as many are vowing to do. But the counterpart of this crucial real world challenge is the equally crucial interior challenge to the heart and soul of every voter: We must form, inform and vote our consciences prudentially for the electoral candidates who will truly promote the Common Good in our nation and in our world. Meeting these two challenges head on is why voting, our vote, is “almost sacred” (Rep. John Lewis) and “a civic sacrament” (Rep. Theodore Hesburgh, CSC).
“The right to vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society. We must use it.” — Rep. John Lewis (1940-2020)
The difference between voting and NOT voting:
Not voting is not a “statement.” It’s rendering yourself invisible. It’s silencing your own voice. It’s self-marginalization. It’s allowing your future to be determined by other people and pretending that’s a moral victory. Not voting essentially gives someone else a blank they get to fill-in on your behalf—since you aren’t present to tell anyone exactly what your values are, what boils your blood and keeps you up at night, what matters most to you. Whatever message you imagine you’re sending by opting out, remains unspoken in your head—and you end up saying nothing. If there’s any statement choosing not to vote makes, it’s “I don’t care if I count.” Generations of people spent their entire lives here unseen and voiceless, millions of others have braved bruises and bullets for the right to speak, a right that you have been handed upon arrival here and now so casually decline. Participating in the electoral process is one of the greatest responsibilities one has as a citizen in a democracy, and to simply opt out speaks to a privilege that imagines you are not impacted by your own silence. You are. We all are… Don’t relinquish the microphone to the bigots and the fear mongers. I don’t know what twists you up inside or what terrifies you. I don’t know the dreams you hold or the future you hope to see. I don’t know what you want your life to say—and no one will unless you actually say it: explicitly, clearly, loudly. Register. Vote. Make a real statement. — Not Voting is Not A “Statement” (October 22, 2019)
BE and VOTE FOR the change you strive for and want to see in the U.S.A. and in the world!