Did you know that people choose their candidates in very similar ways? We do. We all think that we have a system, the best system, and we’re so eager to share it so that others can try out our system and we just KNOW that if they use our system they’ll vote the way we vote. They’ll choose Our Gal/Guy.
It turns out that My Way is a very typical way to choose a candidate:
I think it’s important to learn about the candidates platforms and policies; think about the individual’s histories and how they treat their friends, spouses, and coworkers; consider how they treat individuals they dislike and are in competition with; look at their experience and voting history; examine employment/employer history in tandem with leadership skills; examine their skills in how they choose their advisers and their decision making process; weigh personal character; fact check them with reputable, unbiased sources, whose job is not entertainment but to inform with truth in order to educate.
We need to do all of this with ALL of the candidates, with the knowledge that with candidates we may have disliked or even “hated” in the past may actually be candidates that line up more closely with what we believe in. I also believe we may need to go into this with the humility that previous dislike and hatred of an individual candidate could have been misplaced due to deceit copiously placed in news media by opposition over the years.
These are the things that I believe opinions should be formed from.
Even before all of that, I think we need to commit to something more important. We first ought to commit to learning about ourselves and what matters to us BEFORE we actually choose a candidate for office. How can we know who should stand for us if we don’t know what we stand for?What issues are important to you? How strongly do you feel about them? What do you think about issues that other people find extremely important? There are dozens of topics we think about and research for ourselves and in our candidates. For instance, what do you think about:
- Income Tax Revision
- Cost, Availability and Quality of Clean Water
- Minimum Wage Laws, and increase in mimimum wage
- Prescription Drugs and Specialty Drugs
- Aging and elder issues
- Higher Education
- Employee Compensation
- Moving American Jobs Overseas
- Freedom of the Press
- Freedom of Speech on Government Land
- Transportation Funding
- Disability issues & Disability rights and Human Rights
- Hospital funding and staffing
- Funding CHIP
- School Testing
- Common Core (yes, these are two different things; one is tests, one is teaching methods)
- Stem Cell Research
- Scientific Discoveries
- Gun Control
- Overcrowding in Prisons
- Scientific research funding for curing diseases, disorders
- Mental Health, Emotional Health, Physical Health Issues
- Medical Insurance and what you would like ideally for yourself
- Funding Social Service agencies that would save the state agencies millions of “your tax dollars”
- Social Security
- Privacy Laws
- Immigration Law & Immigration History
- Social Inclusion Laws
- Emergency Disaster Preparedness (did you know there’s actually a Zombie Apocolypse Plan?)
- Funding our state and national infrastructure (Highways, byways, streets, railways, bus-lines, etc) for repair work and new systems
- Carbon Emissions
- Cleaner and Less Expensive Energy Sources for Cars; more efficient and cleaner cars
- Cleaner and Less Expensive Energy Sources for Home Heating and Cooling
- Green Living Initiatives and Legislature; Not just “climate change” but the stuff that directly affects you every day such as the quality of the air you breath and the water you drink
- Regulated food industry promoting healthy eating and living
- Funding education, both primary and secondary
- Relations with other countries
- United Nations
- Political Parties working across the aisle
- Gender Equality
- Marriage Equality
- Human Rights, Equal Rights, Civil Rights
- Section 8 Housing
- Public Housing
- Unemployment Benefits
- SNAP Benefits
- The right for anyone to eat, drink, and have a roof over their heads
- What constitutes war crimes
- The Draft
- GI Bill
- Weapons of Mass Destruction
- Homeland Security
- Racial Politics
- Free Trade
- Military and Defense
- Abstinence Only Education
- Women’s Health Protection
- Maintaining the Freedom of Choice Acts (FOCA) (only 7 states have codified a woman’s right to choose, making the protections of Roe v. Wade part of state law: CA, CT, HI, ME, MD, NV, WA)
- Freedom of Religion, to practice as you choose in the religion you choose
- Freedom from Religion, to be able to choose to refrain from practicing any religion at all
- Freedom to choose your own healthcare, doctors, hospital, clinic, services without interference
- Freedom to parent your children regardless of disability whether physical or mental health
- Defunding of social services and human services that would help disabled, women and children, elderly, and veterans
- Police Brutality
- Mandatory Minimum Sentences
- Corporal Punishment and the Death Penalty
- School Prayer
- Separation of Church and State
- Intelligent Design
- Pardons in the Court System
- Judge Appointments
Honestly, right now my head is swimming, yet I know there are dozens upon dozens more topics and subtopics to consider.
Things that we don’t really consciously consider when choosing a candidate can be unorthodox, for lack of a better word, and aren’t helpful at all. In fact, people end up voting against their own best interests if they use the below “methods” to vote with. They do it because they’re not really voting issues, platforms, policy, or even history.
- The pleasantness of a candidate’s face
- The pleasantness and pitch of a candidate’s voice
- The taller candidate tends to win
- Personal charisma
- A nice smile
- The appearance of being kind
- The appearance of caring about doing their job well
- The appearance of caring about their constituents in general as well as the people who are immediately in front of them
- The appearance being a peace-keeping, even tempered individual
- The appearance of being competent, educated, qualified, and capable
- Individuals who behave and appear Presidential
- The appearance of truthfulness and trustworthiness
- A calm and even temperament
There are worse methods than this, I suppose. I’ve actually heard people explain that they use these methods in choosing candidates:
- Mix it up a bit locally. We may not know who the candidates are, or exactly what their platforms are, but we vote a mix of Republican and Democrat to shake it up and we can try to make sure to “keep them in check” and keep things even
- We play Eenie-Meenie-Mynie-Moe and we catch that mousie by the toe
- We close our eyes while in the polling booth and click like mad at the little levers and then just yank that huge one or, if you’re back in the stone age like some towns, you close your eyes while filling in dots on what looks like a multiple choice test sheet
- We pray right up until it’s time to choose and listen for God to whisper in our ear
- Our minds are already made up, it’s easy peasy, because it’s made for us: we vote party line
- The Candidate who “wins” the debate based on how many insults they can hurl
- The Candidate who seems strongest based on their willingness to sling mud
Those particular methods don’t work, and to be honest they’re insulting.
And yes, to get a bit personal:
Can I help it if it matters to me when a candidate tries to impress people with his business savvy and know-how and insists he’ll get the nation out of debt in no time at all when in fact he’s declared bankruptcy four times and every single venture he’s ever attempted has failed? Every. Single. One.
It matters to me when he is not only proud to be a bigot and racist, but he plans to legislate bigotry and racism.
It matters to me when he has absolutely no education of value at all (since the education he does have hasn’t worked for him), doesn’t have a mind to hire advisers to help educate him as he believes he’s his own best adviser, and doesn’t know the first thing about U.S. or domestic history.
It matters when he doesn’t care about education of others, or about science, or the state of the world or its ecology.
It matters when the most benign emotions he elicits from his supporters is apathy, but the most frequent and dangerous emotion is rage and as it happens, rage is the emotion that he uses the most in order to attempt to gain supporters by twisting them up with fear of Other.
It matters to me when he is anti-disability, anti-women, anti-non-rich-non-white, anti-government and anti-American in every single word and action, anti-education, anti-generosity, anti-kindness, anti-human rights, and has a very tenuous relationship with the truth including his own documented history.
It matters to me that he’s anti-vaccination and believes Autism is a disease that is caused by vaccines; and that Autism needs to be eradicated.
It matters to me when he beat his ex-wife and then intimidates her to drop the charge and lie to the press; calls women disgusting names; bullies reporters for asking typical questions thinking they’re “too tough for any reasonable candidate;” says he’s going to prosecute every single person who says anything negative about him at all during the campaign once the campaign is over, even if he’s President; is anti-American military especially those who are disabled and/or are MIA or captured; makes fun of disabled people; lies about his personal connections to the KKK.
This is a man that has widened the fracture in America, and other countries in the world as as terrified as the majority of Actual Republicans (conservative or middle of the road or liberal-ish) and All Democrats (liberal or conservative). In fact they’re even more terrified because they see him with a clearer lens than we do. It turns out that the horror we’re feeling isn’t quite turned up high enough.
This matters. People can claim that President Obama is responsible for the current fracture, and that may be partially so except for the fact that it’s because he hasn’t allowed himself or the Democratic Party to be bullied as much as the Republican Party has tried to bully over the past eight years. And I’m thinking that in the state the Republican Party is in right now, they’re wishing they had their own Barack Obama right now.