Vote On the Issues, Not the Person

By: Chris Zimmer – Staff Writer

Even though I’m a political news junkie, my ears tuned out a lot of presidential election coverage following the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this summer. However, there’s no escaping the subject in my POL 300 course, Political Campaign Communication, with Dr. Kathleen Watters.  Our semester case study is none other than the 2016 presidential election, and I’ll be the first to admit that my eyes rolled when I heard this on ‘syllabus day.’

Honestly, I’m sick and tired of the non-stop flow of information on my personal Facebook news feed, cable news networks on TV, and other forms of propaganda which we all are succumbed too. If you haven’t been paying attention since Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State in 2013, or when Trump announced his candidacy last summer, then you have some catching up to do.

It was in our class discussion the morning after Professor Lawrence Lessig spoke on campus when I came to the conclusion that this  election has become a battle of each candidate’s attempt to try and ‘save face.’ For instance, Sec. Hillary Clinton’s commercials calls Donald Trump and supporters racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it.”  On the other hand, Trump paints Sec. Clinton as corrupt, irresponsible, bought out by Wall Street, and physically/mentally unhealthy to run to become president.

There’s a large misconception that if you support either candidate, then you must support every single policy they propose, and defend every attack from the opposition. Both have created an ‘all or nothing’ campaign in our politically polarized society. Both have created this ‘if you’re not with us, then you’re against us’ mentality. It’s forced us to be silent about who we support, fearing criticism of our friends and family. Nothing has changed since the last time I voted for president.

I felt the same way when Gov. Mitt Romney challenged the incumbency of President Barack Obama back in 2012. Torn between the ‘lesser of two evils,’ I sought advice from the most influential people in my life, my father. He’s a man of logic, and had voted in every single presidential election since 1976.

I told him my personal pros and cons of either an Obama second-term or a new Republican leader in the White House, and asked him how he thought I should vote. How he responded will be engrained in my mind until the day I die. He said, “Son, pick out one to three issues that directly impact your life, and vote on those issues. Don’t vote for a candidate. Don’t vote for a party. Vote on what matters to you.”

I saw the War on Terror, environmental pollution, and student loan interest rates as those issues which directly impacted my life. I wanted the costly war to end. I also wanted regulations put in place in order to sustain life. I wanted my loans to be fixed too. Voting for President Obama’s re-election seemed like the best option for my life, so that’s what I did, and I have no regrets.

The times have changed though, and there are different issues on the table. It’s time for me to sincerely examine my life, and examine what political issues directly influence my well-being. The last four years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and I look forward to going through this process yet again.

I encourage everyone to personally reflect on the issues at hand, and not be afraid to talk with others about them. There’s no reason not to do so as a community committed to upholding the values found within the Marianist tradition of the Catholic Church. This is a time for us to come together and grow as human beings.

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