Vote People, Not Party!
By Tziah McNair
Imagine walking into a poll booth with no knowledge of the names on the ballot, and simply checking a box because of the letter next to it (R or D). Oh, wait! Some of you don’t have to because that’s literally what you do every voting day. Now, I’m happy that you are exercising your right to vote, something that approximately half of the people in this country can’t or don’t do. But what’s it really matter if you don’t even know what, or rather who, you’re voting for?
I don’t have a ton of memories about voting days. Just vague visuals of varieties of people coming into my school with serious faces and walking out with a round sticker to show off the completion of their democratic duty. I do, however, recall one of these days in middle school when I curiously asked my friend, “who is your dad voting for?” She then replied, “I don’t know, whoever the Republican is.” Now, besides coming to the realization that said Republican was none other than Donald Trump, the thing that bothered me deeply was that my friend couldn’t name the candidate, but only the party he was associated with. Years later, I am still met with people who couldn’t care less about who they’re voting for specifically.
I get it. You and/or your family have a specific set of beliefs that align with one party or the other. While I may wholeheartedly disagree with what those beliefs are, the fact that you have them and stand firm in them is totally fair. However, when you start voting for someone based solely on those views, that’s when you lose me. It just doesn’t make sense.
First of all, just because a candidate runs within the party you support, doesn’t mean that their values and goals match yours. 57% of all Americans are affiliated with one of the two major parties in this country, but that means there’s a whole nother 43% that associate with some other smaller party or identify as independent. That being said, when compared to the big two, all of the ideologies possessed by these third parties likely lean one way or the other (progressive or conservative). The reason we see such a large amount of people choosing to directly associate with the major two is because people are recognizing that there is a spectrum. Just because you originate from the same political party as someone, does not mean that you are in the same wing. Take late U.S. Senator John McCain for instance. Although he was a Republican from birth to death, you could not pay him to endorse President Trump, during his run or after. Another great example is with current Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. While they both represent the Democratic side, their beliefs and ideas for America’s future are quite different. If I go to the polls and just check one of the two randomly, making the assumption that they are the same simply because of the letter next to their name, I will likely be in for a rude awakening. As an individual voter and citizen, you have to decide for yourself where on the spectrum you fall and vote for a person based on that.
As if that wasn’t reason enough, remember that parties change over time. In the 19th century, believe it or not, the Democratic and Republican party were one, pitted up against the Federalist Party. Eventually, they separated, and the more liberal side was Republican, while Democrats were traditional. Today, we see that that is not at all the case. Once you’ve decided where your beliefs align, educate yourself. Stay updated about what’s happening and be mindful that things are subject to evolve, and because you’re human, so are you. As trends change and as you grow, recognize that it’s okay to switch your beliefs. “I was raised by a Republican family,” says Savanah Shadof (11), “but as I’ve gotten older and been exposed to more ways of thinking, I know that that’s not what I believe, and that’s okay. It’s okay to change your mind.”
So moral of the story, don’t be lazy! Do your research before you pull up to the voting booth and remember to vote people, not party.