For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the rider was lost.
For want of a rider, the message was lost.
For want of a message, the battle was lost.
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want, of one little nail.
This familiar saying appropriately demonstrates the power of even the smallest of entities to make a big difference. Indeed, history is replete with demonstrations of the fact that small actions can result in large consequences – especially on the battlefield. (See, for instance, the book titled: The Hinge Factor: How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History by Erik Durschmied [Arcade Publishing, 2001]).
But this principle is true in all endeavors in life. One such example, of course, is politics. I would challenge you to do a simple Google web search on the subject of “the importance of one vote”. You might just be amazed to see how many times one vote has mattered in political outcomes. Here is one version:
- In 1649, one vote caused Charles I of England to be executed.
- In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German.
- In 1800, President Jefferson beat Aaron Burr by one vote in the House following an electoral tie.
- In the 1829 election for the U.S. House of Representatives in Kentucky’s 2nd District, Jackson Democrat Nicholas Coleman defeated National Republican Adam Beatty 2,520 to 2,519.
- In 1845, one vote brought Texas and California into the Union.
- In 1868, a single vote saved President Andrew Johnson from an impeachment conviction.
- In 1875, one vote changed France from a monarchy to a republic.
- In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford Hayes the Presidency of the United States.
- In 1911, one vote per precinct passed woman suffrage in California.
- In 1920, one vote from an obscure state legislator gave all women the right to vote after 100 years of struggle.
- In 1923, one vote gave Adolph Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party.
- In 1941, one vote defeated a bill that would have killed the draft law - just months before Pearl Harbor.
- In 1948, Lyndon B. Johnson, our 36th president, became a U.S. senator by a one vote margin.
- In 1948, if Thomas E. Dewey had gotten ONE vote more per precinct in Ohio and California, the presidential election would have been thrown to the U.S. House of Representatives, where Dewey enjoyed more support than his rival -- incumbent Harry S. Truman? In fact, Dewey was expected to win the general election by a landslide, so most Republicans stayed home. Only 51.5 percent of the electorate voted in 1948, and Truman defeated Dewey.
- In the 1960 presidential election, ONE additional vote per precinct in Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and Texas would have denied John F. Kennedy the presidency and put Richard M. Nixon in office eight years earlier. This means that John F. Kennedy's margin of victory over Richard Nixon in 1960 was less than one vote per precinct.
- Several of our states, including California, Idaho, Oregon, Texas and Washington, became states by just ONE vote.
- In 1993, More than 50 of Missouri's municipal elections ended in a tie. In each case, just one vote would have made the difference.*
In light of this, I would encourage all Americans to get out and vote. And I would further encourage every voting American to be informed in advance of a trip to the voting booth. As an Evangelical Christian, in particular, I would challenge my fellow citizens to vote their values and not just their pocketbooks.
Here is a link to a non-partisan “Party Platform Comparison Guide” put together by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention: http://erlc.com/documents/pdf/2012-PPCG-LOW.pdf.
Please note that it consists only of direct quotations from the official platforms of the two main political parties, Democrat and Republican, on various issues relating to the current national elections. Such a document should speak plainly for itself in assisting Evangelical Christians as they decide how best to honor God with their political votes.
Politics, however, is not the only place where even one individual matters. The same is also true for our expression of faith in daily life.
In 1 Corinthians 12, and again in 1 Corinthians 14, the Apostle Paul deals with the subject of spiritual gifts. His assertion is that we are all part of the body of Christ, and that we each have an important role to play in that regard. We all matter in the Kingdom. And we must all do our part to help the body of Christ function as it should. In short, we must each help to make a difference in the life and ministry of the church.
I hope everyone who affirms faith in Jesus Christ understands that. I hope they also believe it. And above all, I hope they practice it. I would hate to know the Kingdom of God and the cause of Jesus Christ stumbled because I did not do my part. I trust the same is true for you as well.
*NOTE: As is so often the case, the authenticity of the various lists of examples of the power of one vote to make a difference will be called into question by certain web sites (For example, as might be expected: http://www.snopes.com/history/govern/onevote.asp). Other web sites, however, will give fairly detailed documentation regarding their assertions (An example is: http://www.poetpatriot.com/timeline/tmln-1vote-matters.htm). Still others are not so easy to dismiss, occurring on official University web sites (Example: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/virtualschool/videoconferences/
catalog/view/21). Suffice it to say that the truth may well reside somewhere in the middle. But ultimately, you, like any voter, may have to decide this one for yourself.