2016 is here and that means that we are now in an election year.
I told myself when I started regularly writing these articles that I wouldn’t write one that voices my political views. I don’t really like to talk politics and which candidates I support. Politics is the one thing that’s sure to start fights at Christmas dinner, and I tend to prefer my food on a plate instead of flying through the air after someone makes some charged comment about (insert basically any political figure running for president here) and gets the cranberry sauce thrown at them. (I wouldn’t be throwing the cranberry sauce, but it would be sure to happen. Probably.)
While it may be fun in theory, having a food fight on Christmas doesn’t seem fun when played out in actuality.
However, I recently registered to vote, so I figured I’d write about politics and voting.
I do like politics — I think it’s extremely interesting. In fact when I was still thinking about what college I wanted to go to and what I would do after, my back-up career choice after writing was government and law.
So naturally, I love election season. I like being able to discuss important topics like the price of college education and immigration and health care and the military with others who may or may not hold the same views — a healthy, respectful debate is always fun. Watching the recent debates on TV, both Republican and Democrat, I always find myself carefully listening to each of the candidates to see what their ideas are.
And this season, there are a lot of candidates to watch. It’s easier to pay attention on the Democratic side, with only three candidates: Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders. On the Republican side, there are quite a bit more: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump.
There are (currently) a lot of candidates — which is good! The more people running for president, the more choices we have, the more ideals to think about. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the candidate is — cough, cough, Trump cough — hearing all of the different ideals and views from the various candidates gives us a greater ability to form our own views. And when we have our own views, we’re not just voting robots, drawn to whichever candidate others around us are voting for — we can vote based on our own opinions.
So this year, even though Election Day is still 11 months away, pay attention to what the candidates say and do. Don’t vote for someone because you like their slogan. Don’t vote for someone because they’re the only candidate you’ve heard of. Don’t vote for someone without knowing what they stand for.
Vote for a candidate because you agree with their views. Vote for a candidate because you know what they stand for and believe in them. Vote for a candidate because you are informed, and if you’re not sure about a candidate, do some research so you won’t cast a vote blindly.
This year, I plan on paying careful attention to what the presidential candidates have to say. I’d say it’s my New Year’s Resolution, but those almost always fall through. Instead, I’ll say it’s my civic duty, so I can be sure that whoever I’m voting for, it’ll be a vote I’m confident in. I hope you’ll be confident in your decision, too.