Vote Your Conscienceby Gil Sery January 2, 2018
Happy New Year! It’s January! It’s time for a fresh new start; time to change the things that weren’t working last year. After all, that’s what New Year’s resolutions are about, right? Okay, enough clichés. Speaking of clichés, voting based on party affiliation is also cliché.
This month marks the one-year anniversary of the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President. His election is a prime example of what happens when you have two unlikeable candidates from the two major political parties. The result is a deeply divided nation.
George Washington, in his farewell speech in 1796, tried to warn us, but we didn’t listen. He said “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” Now, 221 years later, we have a hyperpartisan Congress that would rather do right by their party (and their campaign donors) than by their constituents. Some Congressmen even refused to hold town halls when they returned to their districts, knowing that their constituents were mad at them for their choices.
So how do we as an electorate fix this hyperpartisan mess, and do better in future elections? The answer is simple: vote for the person, not the party. When my voter information guide comes in the mail, I take a few hours and read it cover to cover. I understand that not everyone has that kind of time, but at least read both sides of every argument. Keep an open mind, and don’t let the media’s biased coverage or those one-sided election mailers sway you. Educate yourself on all the propositions that affect you. Then do the same with all the candidates, regardless of party affiliation.
As a permanent mail ballot voter, I get my ballot in the mail before Election Day. This allows me to research every name on the ballot, even if I have never seen an ad or mailer of theirs, and even if they did not appear in the Voter Information Guide. I go to their website, read their stances on the issues, and vote accordingly. Why? Isn’t that throwing my vote away? No, I don’t think so.
If we’re going to change Congress, to paraphrase MJ, we need to start with the person in the mirror. Then, try and recruit others to also vote for the person, not the party. By opening up your options, even if those candidates are not included in the debates, you’re opening up possibilities for new ideas. By voting for the person, instead of the party, you are taking a stand. You are voting for someone, instead of against the lesser of two evils.
There’s an inspirational quote that goes “if you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” So if you want better representation in government, don’t just vote blindly for the party you usually vote for; do your research! Educate yourself on ALL the potential candidates, not just the frontrunners. Vote for the person you’d most like to see in office.
Realize that a third party is only in the minority until enough people decide to vote for it. Then, it becomes the new majority party. The more voters who vote for third parties, the closer we get to having a new major party. With a new party, come new perspectives. With new perspectives, come new Congressional members, and new laws, until there’s a revolution in government and the voters finally take back a people-centric government.
It all starts with being willing to vote for a third party. In the four years since the 2012 election, the Libertarian Party more than tripled the share of the votes it got in the 2016 election, from 0.99% in 2012 to 3.28% in 2016. It’s happening! It’s possible to have more options than just Republicans and Democrats; we as an electorate just have to want it badly enough. “Millenials do,” a recent study by NBC News & GenForward found that 71% of Millenials think a third party is necessary.
We have to look at all our options, not just the main two, and we all have to vote. If, after doing your research on all the candidates, the person you like most of all is a Democrat or Republican, then by all means vote for them. At least you’ve given all the candidates a shot to earn your vote regardless of party affiliation…that’s all any (fair-minded) politician can ask. Α