Amish and Politics

Do the Amish get involved in community politics? I know there have been controversies about electrical lines crossing Amish-owned property and other community issues, but what about state and national election concerns?

It’s been a while since last I posted. David and I had to make a mad dash to Rangeley, Maine this past weekend. His family’s cottage, which has been in the family since David was 8 years old, is selling. We were surprised when someone wanted to buy it in the middle of winter, and then we were even more surprised when they moved up the closing date, which forced us to move our belongings out right away. Of course we got stuck on that steep driveway with the cargo van we rented and had to be towed out. It was sooo cold up there! But at least it’s over and we survived it.

I am now ready to address the above question to the best of my ability. I do believe the answer to the first question is varied, depending on the community. In my home community, it seemed the Amish were almost a-political unless something happened to force them into it, such as the example you gave of power companies wanting to bring large power lines through their farm land. I remember this being an issue when I was in my early teens. The sentiment from the Amish was that they do not use the electricity, why should they allow it to come through their land? They actually did cause the power company to change their route because they spoke out. I remember a controversy within the community around one Amish man having consented to a television interview, because he wanted the message to be heard. He was heavily criticized for that by other Amish.

I’ve also heard of the Amish turning out in droves to vote against a school levy in one particular community. It was my understanding that even the women were registering to vote for that occasion. Most likely it was like giving every head of household two votes with the husbands telling their wives how to vote.

About state and national elections: to my knowledge no Amish women vote in these elections. When I was old enough to vote and still living in the community, it never dawned on me that I had that right. It would have been frowned on as not being “the Amish way.” There may have been a few men who voted in my home community, but it wasn’t discussed often and I wouldn’t have known who voted and who didn’t, which also means I have no idea how many voted. This may have all changed — I have been out of the community for thirty years now. It is my understanding that most Amish vote Republican. In a homogeneous community, in which there isn’t much diversity of thought, it does not surprise me that they vote the way of the group.

I’m sorry I cannot give more definitive answers, but because of the a-political bent of my original community, I really don’t know the answers to these questions.

I will be answering the question about the book entitled Rumspringa in my next post.

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