Given that this is an election year and we have all been subjected to one political tirade after another; many people apparently see themselves fit to continually vote along party lines.
Personally, I think such a decision is always rash and foolhardy. Rather than support any party, I prefer to look at individual criteria and base my decision on individual merit; but that's just me.
What I do not understand, however, is the political alliances that the average Joe makes. I know people who vote a party ticket because it's what they feel they are supposed to do. They do not, apparently, take the time to evaluate the nominees for the different offices, and many times cast self-contradictory votes. Basically, the voting public seems to be confused.
There is hope, though, as there are reliable web-sites and programs on the Internet which enable you, based on your answers to social/political questions, to discover which party you most closely share your beliefs. One such site that I highly recommend is "The Political Compass." The address for the site is not the same as the test's namesake, but if you do a search engine on "The Political Compass" you will be led right to it. There are also other such tests on-line, but the aforementioned site is more thorough.
To give you a taste of what I'm talking about, I'll give you a quick test.
1. Do you believe the federal government should have either increased or decreased control over civil liberties (i.e. the right to imbibe, keep an bear arms, choosing whether or not to buckle your seatbelt, etc.)?
2. Do you believe the states should be allowed to govern themselves with minimal interference from the federal government?
3. Do you believe a free-market is more solid and yields better results than a capitalist market flogged by government restrictions?
4. Do you believe individuals should be hired for a position based on their credentials and merit rather than the color of their skin?
5. Do you believe in a lowered tax burden and fewer social programs that spend taxpayer money, or do you believe in existing and increased tax rates that pour more money into defunct governmental programs?
If you answer these questions honestly, one way or the other, you just might surprise yourself.
If your answers lean more toward individual liberties; if your answers show that you believe more in a free market; if your answers basically reflect a desire for restricted government, then guess what: you hold strong Republican beliefs. If the opposite is true; if you believe in increased government involvement and control on the state and local levels and an increased tax-burden to enlarge government programs, then you hold strong Democrat beliefs.
I bring this all up because, I believe, it is important to the continued success of our country. If we are to be a country "of the people, for the people, and by the people," then we must vote within the parameters of our views and belief structure, whatever that may be.
Although many politicians are incredibly good at telling you what you want to hear, that doesn't mean they are who you would necessarily support. The simple fact that millions of Americans who actually feel the urge to get out and vote are doing so blindly is scary.
Don't let yourself be fooled by what you hear. Don't place a vote based on the way your parents and grandparents voted. Vote from an informed point of view that will see your hopes and dreams for a stronger America fulfilled.
Otherwise, the value of your vote is truly dubious and the repercussions could be more dire than you think. An ignorant vote is the worst kind because it's just another way of selling your birthright for a bowl of soup.
Do yourself a favor and check out the website. Take your time and be honest. Hopefully, if you do so, you will leave the polls with more of a sense of accomplishment. Hopefully, we can start and continue electing the right people for the job.
Jonathon Dawe can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org