Why The 2016 Election Matters More Than You Might Think

via Flickr - Mobilus in Mobilil
via Flickr – Mobilus in Mobilil

To say the stakes are high this November is an understatement. The next leader of our country will be responsible for the strength of our economy and the direction of our nation. We’re at a point in our history where new social issues are being debated and old policies are being rediscussed. To name a few things on our next President’s to do list:

Gun control
Health care
Equal Pay
Abortion

And, what can easily be considered the most important decision of our future President’s entire one (or two) terms, is the replacement for Antonin Scalia in the Supreme Court. Scalia was known as the leading conservative voice on the high court and, in his absence, there is now a 4-to-4 split between liberals and conservatives. Whoever becomes the next President will have a chance to choose the direction the Supreme Court leans for an unknown amount of time.

And yet, our two parties have never been further apart. I now look at the debates in past elections as, in addition to more professional, much easier. The debates on taxation, government regulation and military spending – while still relevant – are not the high-profile issues. In today’s America, we could either be holding on or reversing gay marriage and abortion rights and are desperately looking for a strategy to tackle ISIS, Syrian refugees and gun reform. This election makes all others seem like child’s play – largely because this election feels personal. This year will affect things that, in my opinion, the government shouldn’t even be able to debate over. Things that those who are too young to vote can’t even imagine not having a say in.

If these things matter to you, if you think these things will affect your children or your grandchildren (spoiler alert: they will) then vote. And I don’t use the term vote lightly. Make an informed vote. An informed vote doesn’t mean voting based on what you hear on the news or read in the paper or online. You may not notice, but journalism is hardly objective. You’re probably being manipulated to lean one way or the other and not even know it. Realistically, I’m probably persuading you in a certain direction with this piece as well. What is causing so much controversy in this year’s election is that people may be siding with certain candidates while being misled or misinformed. In actuality, most of America is misinformed.

Some are misinformed because they choose to be.

“Why would I pay attention? My vote doesn’t matter anyway.”

While you do need to be informed to vote, you also need to be informed for the simple fact that this is where you live. The next person who becomes President is going to make decisions that affect your daily life. Whether it’s your healthcare, your taxes or your right to bear arms/have an abortion/get married, you name it. If you don’t make an effort to fight for what you believe in, how can you expect others to fight for your beliefs?

Others are misinformed, not because of lack of effort, but because of where they’re getting their information. If you’re solely looking to your favorite news station for facts on presidential candidates, you’re going to get more opinions than facts. The more you watch your favorite TV station, the more those opinions will start to feel like your own. They’re not. If you want to form your own opinion on the candidates, start with watching the debates. You’re going to get more answers by watching how the candidates react to one another than the face they put on when they’re speaking straight to the American people. Observe how they handle the tough questions, the backhanded jabs from the opposition and if and how they manage to keep their composure.

If you’re going to complain about what’s wrong with our country, if you’re going to choose a side or a candidate, you should have a thorough understanding of all the candidates – not just the one you’re siding with. How can you say a candidate isn’t fit for the country if you don’t know they’re stance? The 2016 election has gotten more exposure than ever before. That’s one thing I think we can all give Trump a little credit for. Millennials are paying attention and (finally) registering to vote. Those who are too young to vote actually wish they could. Now, more than ever before, people are involved in politics and are seeking out information. With the way society is evolving, it is more important than ever to be informed about the fate of your country and the social issues being debated.

The only way to make that informed decision on your own is to devote the time to finding the hard facts. And try, although this might be where you lose me, to think of America as a whole rather than just what beliefs work for yourself. If the Supreme Court thought about what “they would do” in deciding to legalize gay marriage, it may very likely still be illegal. Think about how these policy debates affect the American people. That’s what the future President will have to do – or what we hope they will do. So make sure you’re choosing someone you can back. They don’t have to agree with you on every political matter, but they have to agree with you on the policies that matter, to you.

Use the right that they can’t take away (at least not completely) and exercise your right to vote, and vote knowing why you’re supporting a candidate. TC mark

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Image Credit: via Flickr - Mobilus in Mobilil

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