President Obama is a very inspiring speaker, and in 2008, a lot of people believed that hope and change were approaching. However, most of his promises didn’t come to fruition once he was elected. It’s not just that politicians are liars who will say anything to get elected – though that is definitely the case more often than not – but the system of checks and balances keeps even the executive branch, even though it has been immensely strengthened since the FDR days, from doing much of anything.
Maybe people forget this, or they try to ignore it and hope that their President, who did such a great job at persuading them, will woo Congress with similar ease. Constituents are too busy to be fully educated about the political process and political campaigns, and who can blame them? People with careers in politics spend their lives learning about current events and issues, while most voters have other things to worry about. Campaigns are getting so full of flip-flopping, smear tactics, and excuses that sometimes even the candidates don’t seem to know what they are talking about anymore.
Voters instead use heuristics, like one issue on which to base their choice. But if you vote for someone because you agree with him on one thing, keep in mind that this one thing might move down his list of priorities once the president-elect realizes everything else that comes with the job (I don’t envy him).
Of course, no candidate’s views will align with yours on every point, but it’s best to take a holistic view.
Women shouldn’t re-elect President Obama simply because they want someone else to pay for their birth control; we have interests much broader than that. As I have said before, we also want jobs, religious freedom, and freedom of expression.
It takes time to be informed about candidates’ stances on these and other issues, and it’s difficult to find truth amid media bias by both sides, but it’s worth the effort. A lot of economists would say that for the amount of time it takes to be informed, the effort that goes into actually voting (registering, taking time off of work to go to a poll booth, etc.) and the basically impossible odds that your vote will have any impact on the election, it isn’t worth it to vote. However, when fifty percent of the population feels that way, a difference could actually be made if all of them changed their minds.
I think if you are among the majority of people (meaning you are educated about the voting process, you are a legal tax-paying citizen who isn’t in jail, and you have opinions), you should vote. In some countries, it is an obligation, and you’re fined if you don’t vote. Here, it is a privilege, one for which many men and women have given their lives.
If you think your vote could never count, do a little research on Texan history and how single votes have had an impact. While you’re Googling that, take five minutes to research where the candidates really stand on issues… or just flip through the rest of this issue of the Review. A few weeks ago, the Network of Enlightened Women here at Cornell had a short session where we talked objectively about the presidential and vice presidential candidates, and it wouldn’t hurt for you to do the same. Keep learning, and keep it classy, Cornell.
Katie Johnson is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences and can be reached at email@example.com.