Here in the United States, we are coming up on our Presidential election. The main election will be on Tuesday, Nov. 6, although many states allow voters to cast early ballots.
Tonight is the first of three formal debates between the two main candidates – current President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. I strongly urge everyone – whether you are eligible to vote or just want to understand what is happening in American politics – to watch the debates and apply what you learn to making an informed decision. Tonight’s debate will air at 9:00 pm Eastern time (8:00 Central, 7:00 Mountain, 6:00 Pacific).
In my mind, too many political decisions today are based on “sound bites” and stereotypes. Democracy only works well if voters are informed and make choices based on what is important to them. This election may be the clearest choice we’ve had in decades, and it’s essential that each of us understands why we are picking a particular candidate.
It’s a Party!
The United States has a strong two-party system. In most cases, we choose either the Republican or the Democratic candidate. Occasionally a third party candidate has managed to receive enough votes to influence the election, but rarely does one win election to a major office.
Currently, the Democratic Party has a “liberal” orientation. They are more likely to support social items such as health care, education, and individual freedom. Many Democrats believe that protecting the environment is important, and they are willing to put restrictions on businesses to reduce pollution and other social harm. The major criticism of Democrats is that they are willing to spend freely on social programs and are willing to increase taxes – particularly from higher income individuals and corporations – to pay for these programs. President Obama is a Democrat.
The Republican Party has a more “conservative” agenda. They believe that taxes should be low, and that the government should reduce spending on social programs. They think that poor people should work to become wealthier rather than get help from the government. Republicans believe that strengthening businesses help individuals, so they support tax breaks and other incentives that help businesses earn higher profits. They also dislike any laws (such as pollution controls) that make it more difficult to run a business.
Many Republicans also have strong ties to religious groups. As a result, they hold conservative attitudes about “traditional marriage”, and tend to be more restrictive about personal freedom than Democrats. Republicans are often criticized for repressing minorities, spending tax money on war and victimless crimes, and for valuing their religious principles above the political needs of the country. Governor Romney is the Republican candidate.
Vote for Barack Obama if you believe:
- Everyone deserves love and equal protection under the law for their relationships.
- Women have the right to choose whether they have children.
- We need safe air and water, even if it adds time and expense to running a business.
- Sometimes people need help, and the government should provide it.
- It’s ok to tax wealthy people at a higher rate to help fund government programs.
- People should work together in a spirit of compromise, regardless of their beliefs.
Vote for Mitt Romney if you believe:
- Marriage is strictly for one man and one woman. Any other relationship is improper and should not be protected by law.
- Birth control and abortion are immoral and should be illegal.
- Businesses drive our economy. Restrictions on business – for any reason – hurt everyone.
- Government handouts are addictive. If people won’t work, they should find private charity or starve.
- Wealthy people create jobs and deserve what they have. Taxation is government-sanctioned theft.
- Compromise is giving in. People who disagree with me are wrong.
Of course, we will have many other choices to make at the polls besides choosing a President. All Congressional seats are up for election, along with one-third of Senate seats. We will be voting for state and local candidates, and in many cases for changes to state or local laws (“propositions”). In my case, I will be voting for candidates for four political offices and for or against eleven ballot propositions.
Vote for the Candidate of Your Choice… Vote for the Issues of Your Choice … But Vote!
In 2012, there is a very clear distinction between the political parties and their candidates. It is more important than ever to study the issues and vote for the candidates and issues that you believe will have the strongest positive impact on our lives. Watch the debates, read up, decide, and above all – Vote! Your vote matters.
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