Presidential election season. A time when every person’s vote matters. A time when America weighs the pros and cons of an assortment of potential leaders, intellectually debates the ideas they’re presenting, and carefully selects the candidate that best represents their interests, ideals, and…
Oh, who am I kidding? Only a select few of us put that much effort into choosing who we’ll vote for. Most American voters back their favored candidates for all the wrong reasons, and vote with their guts instead of their brains. They get caught up in political buzzwords they don’t understand, are easily sidelined by out-of-context sound-bytes, and worst of all, they refuse to vet their information carefully or seek out as many viewpoints as possible on a candidate before making their decision. Of course, that’s still somehow better than a person who doesn’t vote at all… I guess.
So let’s examine some of the truly horrendous reasons why some people vote for particular candidates. This isn’t really a knock against the candidates themselves, though, however worthy of insults they may be, so much as we’re taking aim at the voters in particular. If you’re backing a candidate for any of the following reasons, then congratulations: you’re what’s wrong with America.
It’s time for America to have a (insert ethnicity or gender here) President!
Don’t vote for a candidate based on their race, gender, or religious views. None of that matters even remotely once they take office; a person’s race or gender doesn’t affect their job performance and doesn’t improve or lessen the quality of their decisions. It might provide them with valuable insights into race and/ or gender that another candidate doesn’t have, but even that’s not necessarily true. Based on the things he’s said, Ben Carson knows about as much about the concerns of Black Americans as Jeb Bush does.
They deserve to win because it’s their turn!
We hear this sometimes out of Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush supporters; this notion that it’s someone’s “turn” to be President is pretty asinine. Those of our ancestors who came to this country by choice did so in large part to escape political dynasties and royal families. So no, it’s not someone’s “turn” to be president. The presidency is earned by your own personal merits, not by the merits of someone you’re married to related to. And in that latter case, do you really want another Bush presidency? Seriously?
I think they’d be fun to have a beer with!
These people are campaigning to become the next leader of the free world, not pledging a frat. Whether you think a particular candidate seems “fun” or would be nice to spend some time around is irrelevant and says nothing whatsoever about their ability to govern.
They speak their mind!
“Speaking your mind” is great and all, but it’s the quality of what that mind produces that should really be the determining factor here. Adolf Hitler spoke his mind… that doesn’t mean he was a leader worth following. It’s the quality of the content being spoken that should matter to you, not a candidate’s ability to belligerently shout out whatever ignorant thing pops into their head.
They’re great at business!
Running a business IS NOT the same thing as running a government. Only a stupid person would argue to the contrary. The government doesn’t have and shouldn’t have a profit motive. The point of a government is to protect citizens from foreign and domestic threats, and not just foreign armies or terrorists, but also corporate malfeasance, pollution, poverty, starvation, etc. Business experience does literally nothing to prepare someone for dealing with domestic issues, tax policy, foreign affairs, managing the most powerful military in the history of the world, or anything else related to governance. It does, however, prepare them for lowering their own taxes and helping their corporate-world buddies advance with government contracts and lessened regulations… and that’s about it.
They’re great on a single issue!
I have nothing but admiration and respect for Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig, who is running on a single issue, and it’s one of the most serious issues we face as a nation, too: campaign finance reform. But what happens when that figure actually wins the election? How will they handle national defense, or taxes, or regulatory actions? How will that president conduct themselves with foreign leaders, or negotiate critical treatise? Who will they appoint to the Supreme Court? The president has a whole big mess of important jobs. Being excellent on an important subject is great, but being excellent on multiple subjects? That’s even better.
God told them to run!
There are people in this country who believe politicians when they claim that God instructed them to run for the presidency, but newsflash, folks: God didn’t say a word to them. George W. Bush, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry… lots of would-be presidents have claimed God came to them and told them to run, but until you see proof, you should always just chalk that up as “this is either a crazy person, or someone whose trying to prey on my faith to get me to vote for them.” It’s always one or the other, folks. It’s never, ever option C.
They’re popular/ they have the best chance of winning!
We hear this out of Camp Hillary quite a bit, as we’ve heard in the past about various candidates as well. It’s often touted as her biggest and best selling point by many of her supporters: she has a better chance of winning, she’s doing better in the polls, etc. Well, here’s the thing you need to understand: if enough people vote with their brains and with their hearts, and reallocate their support to the candidate that best represents their hopes for America’s future, guess what? That candidate is going to pull ahead, and become the most popular. Fancy that! There are many legitimate reasons a person might want to vote for Hillary, but if the only thing preventing you from voting for Bernie is Hillary’s popularity, you need to reevaluate quite a bit.
They were endorsed by someone I like!
Just because someone you approve of approves of someone else, doesn’t mean you should also approve of them. I’m a big-time soccer fan (you’ll get over it), and I love the band Radiohead. Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien is a Manchester United fan… I’m still allowed to love Arsenal FC. Endorsements are great, but they shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all of your decision-making process.
They’re better than the other person/ the lesser of two evils!
If you’ve legitimately researched both candidates, and you’re convinced both would make for terrible presidents, then perhaps you need to seek out a third option, and convince others to do the same. If that isn’t realistic (like, say, in the general election rather than in the primary), then sure, go with the lesser of two evils, so long as you’re 100% positive they really are less evil than the other candidate.