From an article in the Wall Street Journal:
As Isaac Pollak, an ardent Republican, kissed his wife goodbye before heading out on a business trip to Asia several years ago, he handed her his absentee ballot for the coming presidential election and asked her to mail it.
Bonnie Pollak, a Democrat, weighed her options. Should she be loyal to her spouse, respect his legal right and mail the ballot? Or remain faithful to her deeply held beliefs and suppress his vote?
“It was a real dilemma,” says Ms. Pollak, 58 years old, a student in a doctoral program in social welfare who lives in Manhattan. “I decided to do the right thing.”
Ms. Pollak threw the ballot away.
What exactly is the moral dillema here? Does she think it is immoral for her husband to vote Republican? Does she have an issue with people voting according to their political beliefs?
This woman has no idea what voting means, and she is not alone. Voting is when people all state their opinion, and we see which opinion is the most popular. But many people, and I often see this with liberals, think that voting is ensuring that what they believe is right gets accepted. They have already determined what is right, that is not up for a vote. The only reason they vote is to make sure it actually happens.
While the story in the WSJ is on a very small scale, this same pattern repeats itself whenever private citizerns try to force the hand of government. This can be sometimes done through lawsuits which concern state secrets and state policy and which have no place in the court – both the litigant and the judge force the hand of the governemnt. More recently this has often been done by “whistelblowing” or publicizing governemnt secrets. Wikileaks is a classic example. Bradley Manning and Assange had issues with how governments were being run. Instead of trying to change governement policy through public democratic means, they took matters into their own hands, deciding independently what governemnts may or may not do.
Surpressing a vote in a open democratic election is never moral, even if you believe that the vote is going the wrong way. Bonnie Pollak of the WSJ story violated her husband’s trust because she did not respect his right to his own political opinion, and she did not believe he had the right to vote. Somehow this is presented as a moral dillema. She should have recognized a different moral dillema: if her political understanding did not grant her husband a right to vote, how can she claim to believe in democracy, and why is she married to him?
He says it took him at least a year to stop being irritated, and to this day he doesn’t trust his wife of 35 years with his correspondence. “Isn’t it illegal to throw away mail?” he still asks her.
His wife of 35 year violated his trust because she cannot respect a difference of political opnion. I am not sure why anyone would expect him to show her anything more than complete distrust and disresepct after this.