Chapter 6—The Power of the Vote

Our Responsibility as Citizens—While we are in no wise to become involved in political questions, yet it is our privilege to take our stand decidedly on all questions relating to temperance reform. Concerning this I have often borne a plain testimony. In an article published in the Review of November 8, 1881, I wrote:.... Te 253.1

“There is a cause for the moral paralysis upon society. Our laws sustain an evil which is sapping their very foundations. Many deplore the wrongs which they know exist, but consider themselves free from all responsibility in the matter. This cannot be. Every individual exerts an influence in society. Te 253.2

Every Voter Has a Voice—“In our favored land, every voter has some voice in determining what laws shall control the nation. Should not that influence and that vote be cast on the side of temperance and virtue? ... Te 253.3

“We may call upon the friends of the temperance cause to rally to the conflict and seek to press back the tide of evil that is demoralizing the world; but of what avail are all our efforts while liquor selling is sustained by law? Must the curse of intemperance forever rest like a blight upon our land? Must it every year sweep like a devouring fire over thousands of happy homes? Te 253.4

By Voice, Pen, and Vote—“We talk of the results, tremble at the results, and wonder what we can do with the terrible results, while too often we tolerate and even sanction the cause. The advocates of temperance fail to do their whole duty unless they exert their influence by precept and example—by voice and pen and vote—in favor of prohibition and total abstinence. We need not expect that God will work a miracle to bring about this reform, and thus remove the necessity for our exertion. We ourselves must grapple with this giant foe, our motto, No compromise and no cessation of our efforts till the victory is gained,”—The Review and Herald, October 15, 1914. (Quoted in Gospel Workers, 387, 388.) Te 253.5

The Choice of Right Men—Intemperate men should not by vote of the people be placed in positions of trust.—The Signs of the Times, July 8, 1880. Te 254.1

At the Mercy of Intemperate Men—Many men are voted into office whose minds are deprived of their full vigor by indulgence in spirituous liquors, or constantly beclouded by the use of the narcotic tobacco.... The peace of happy families, reputation, property, liberty, and even life itself, are at the mercy of intemperate men in our legislative halls and our courts of justice. Te 254.2

By giving themselves up to the indulgence of appetite, many who were once upright, once beneficent, lose their integrity and their love for their fellow men, and unite with the dishonest and profligate, espouse their cause, and share their guilt. Te 254.3

Sacred Prerogative as Citizen Forfeited—How many forfeit their prerogative as citizens of a republic,—bribed with a glass of whisky to cast their vote for some villainous candidate. As a class, the intemperate will not hesitate to employ deception, bribery, and even violence against those who refuse unbounded license to perverted appetite.—The Review and Herald, November 8, 1881. Te 254.4

Responsibility of Passive Citizens—Many give their influence to the great destroyer, aiding him by voice and vote to destroy the moral image of God in man, not thinking of the families that are degraded by a perverted appetite for liquor.—Manuscript 87, 1898. Te 254.5

And those who by their votes sanction the liquor traffic will be held accountable for the wickedness that is done by those who are under the influence of strong drink.—Letter 243a, 1905. Te 255.1

Our Pioneers Reach an Important Decision—[A page from Ellen G. White's 1859 diary.] “Attended meeting in the eve. Had quite a free, interesting meeting. After it was time to close, the subject of voting was considered and dwelt upon. James first talked, then Brother Andrews talked, and it was thought by them best to give their influence in favor of right and against wrong. They think it right to vote in favor of temperance men being in office in our city instead of by their silence running the risk of having intemperance men put in office. Brother Hewett tells his experience of a few days [since] and is settled that [it] is right to cast his vote. Brother Hart talks well. Brother Lyon opposes. No others object to voting, but Brother Kellogg begins to feel that it is right. Pleasant feelings exist among all the brethren. O that they may all act in the fear of God. Te 255.2

Note: In the early summer of 1881 at the Des Moines, Iowa, camp meeting, a resolution was placed before the delegates which read: Te 255.3

“Resolved, That we express our deep interest in the temperance movement now going forward in this state; and that we instruct all our ministers to use their influence among our churches and with the people at large to induce them to put forth every consistent effort, by personal labor, and at the ballot box, in favor of the prohibitory amendment of the Constitution, which the friends of temperance are seeking to secure.”—The Review and Herald, July 5, 1881. Te 255.4

But some objected to the clause which called for action at “the ballot box,” and urged its deletion. Mrs. White, who was attending this camp meeting, had retired, but she was summoned to give her counsel. Te 255.5

Writing of it at the time she says: “I dressed and found I was to speak to the point of whether our people should vote for prohibition. I told them ‘yes,’ and spoke twenty minutes.”—Letter 6, 1881. Te 255.6

“Men of intemperance have been in the office today in a flattering manner expressing their approbation of the course of the sabbathkeepers not voting and expressed hopes that they will stick to their course and like the quakers, not cast their vote. Satan and his evil angels are busy at this time, and he has workers upon the earth. May Satan be disappointed, is my prayer.”—E.G. White diary, Sunday, March 6, 1859. Te 256.1

The Lesson of Ancient Kingdoms—The prosperity of a nation is dependent upon the virtue and intelligence of its citizens. To secure these blessings, habits of strict temperance are indispensable. The history of ancient kingdoms is replete with lessons of warning for us. Luxury, self-indulgence, and dissipation prepare the way for their downfall. It remains to be seen whether our own republic will be admonished by their example, and avoid their fate.—Gospel Workers, 388. Te 256.2