I did not vote in the previous presidential election. In the past I had voted for George W. Bush and considered myself a socially liberal conservative (or, as I often say, I’m socially liberal, but financially conservative). I liked JOhn McCain, but his choice of running mate spoke highly of his decision making abilities in a negative way and I was concerned about Barack Obama’s lack of experience. To be honest, I also thought people were just voting for him because they thought he was cool. When it came time to vote I just couldn’t make up my mind (and also wasn’t registered in this state after moving here from Ohio, for what it’s worth). I didn’t want to use my ignorance as an excuse to vote for the wrong guy and thus sat that one out. Some people think this is a travesty. “You must vote, it’s your right as an American!” And that’s true, at least the second half, but I don’t think enough people really contemplate their candidate’s positions on the issues. These choices have meaning and should not be taken lightly. Hit the jump to read the full post or just hold off and wait til I start writing about toys, comics and movies again. You won’t have to wait long, I promise.
I’m going to note right now before jumping into this post, I don’t do a lot of political reading. Like a lot of people I hear things on TV, read bits and pieces on twitter and watch parts of debates. That being said, I have done a lot of thinking about where I stand on various issues and have done a bit of research into those areas in regards to the candidates. Certain issues are more important to me due to their concrete and changeable nature while others have become less tangible and therefore less immediate.
For instance, I’m firmly in favor of sexual equality in the workplace and when it comes to healthcare. The fact that women are still treated differently than men is criminal and flies in the face of that whole “created equal” thing we’ve been saying but not really meaning for hundreds of years. This is an issue that can and should be addressed and changed immediately and, in theory, it can be. Let’s pass some bills and make it illegal for businesses to pay women less and fix health care so women are better covered (actually, let’s just completely fix health care, already). The same goes for equality based on sexuality. For me, these are non starters. If you’re against them, I’m against you. End of story.
On the other hand, you’ve got an issue like the economy. Something a lot of people don’t seem to understand is how big and complex of an issue this is. Economies are like living creatures that don’t change when one president leaves and another comes in. They can take years to get going and change and if you’re not paying attention, then little changes can turn into gigantic ones that cause huge problems. Saying, “Well, the economy sucked while Obama was president” is an easy thing to say, but it doesn’t mean that it’s his fault. So many factors come into play. I’m also not going to pin this all on George W. Bush, but his policies did partially lead into the economic state we found ourselves in. None of this takes into account wildcards like terrorist attacks and natural disasters that can also make trouble for economies.
On a related note, I think it’s atrocious how many of the Republican ads so clearly feed off of peoples’ fears. Yes, the economy took a huge downturn. Yes, we had huge job losses. Yes, this has decimated many families. But, again, this isn’t Obama’s fault. It’s no one person’s fault and people need to realize this instead of voting based on fear and hearsay. I’d much rather see ads explaining to me why a particular candidate is worth voting for than why the other person is not. Where we are in New York, which also airs ads for New Jersey and Connecticut, I saw far more of the former and almost none of the latter.
While I’m bringing up random topics, there are two more aspects of the elections that have been on my mind lately. We need to get rid of the electoral college. It’s an outmoded version of democracy that assumes the people voting aren’t educated enough to actually vote. Unless someone can give me a solid reason why it’s necessary, this feels like a dinosaur still loping around causing trouble for people. I also think we need reform and universality in how we vote. We should utilize the amazing technology at our fingertips and make voting not only easier for people but more transparent. I’d like to vote online or through an app. Yes, there’s potential for voter fraud in this way, but that’s the case with everything. If our nation’s intelligence gathering agencies can’t come up with an un-hackable system to tally votes, then what are they worth? This is not an easy fix, but it can be changed and should be. Let’s get modern with this thing already and have the proper amount of oversight so no one side can cause shenanigans.
I’ll come right out and say it, I’m voting for Obama. It’s as much a vote for the man himself — who I have developed a great deal of respect for during his presidency — as it is against Mitt Romney. I just don’t trust that guy. He changes his opinion on issues so much that I don’t believe he has the best interest of the United States and its people in mind. I also don’t understand or trust the Republican party any longer. I do not like how religious the party has become. That is not politics to me.
As I said above, for me, voting comes down to picking the issues most important to you, doing your research and choosing a candidate that fits in with your ideas. It’s not about having other people tell you what to think or how to vote or voting a certain way because it’s what your dad did or what you did four years ago. To get philosophical for a minute, it’s like Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That fits for politics too. I considered myself a Republican for many years and while I never really educated myself as to what that meant, I voted that way in my share of elections. But, now that I’ve grown and matured as a person through the simple act of living more life and become a father, I’ve examined my opinions and some of them have changed or evolved. I am no longer personally comfortable voting for a candidate based on a huge, hard-to-define- subject like “the economy” over all other things.
Even though Romney’s supposedly fiscally conservative (I’d like to hear what his five point plan actually involves) I can not vote for him because I find many of his stands on social issues unacceptable. I am not willing to sacrifice the things I hold important for the chance that Romney might be able to “fix” the economy, especially when he has not shown me how he intends to do so. It’s like reading comics. Some people keep reading a book like Batman or X-Men even though they don’t like it, just out of misguided loyalty. That doesn’t help anyone because, while you are supporting the thing you once loved, you’re also telling the people running things that you’re a-okay with how they’re being run. I’ve never been like that. With comics you vote for change with your dollar, with an election, well, you vote with your vote.
That’s the way I approach elections now. I hope that at some point in my life I’ll be able to focus on other issues like the economy instead of social ones like the equality of actual human beings, something that should have been taken care of decades before I was even born, not in the 21st friggin’ century. But for now, for this election, that’s where my focus is.