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If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist. –-Ed Koch
Growing up, I observed on many occasions that my mother really didn’t have any opinions of her own. She read the Boston Globe regularly, and watched Fox News as if it were somehow the only news network out there. She raised me to be a conservative, but she read a liberal newspaper and watched a conservative news network. It seemed to take a toll on her ability to hold or state her beliefs consistently. For example, she would argue she was against abortion because it is the killing of an unborn child, something she’d heard from Fox, but would later say that an unwanted child is a burden on society, which she’d read in the Boston Globe.
My mother was of another generation. She grew up in the 1930s, when supposedly people aspired to rugged individualism, so it always surprised me that she seemed to change her beliefs about things as the wind changed direction.
Politicians are often accused of the same thing. While the average person, in the face of new information, may change their minds on specific issues, politicians often do this not because they’ve change their minds, but because they want to get elected. We know from audio and video that Obama opposed same-sex marriage before he was elected President. Politicians and parties want to attain or keep power, so they often compromise or switch positions on issues like this to ensure their supremacy in other areas. Many who support same-sex marriage parrot the line it is the defining issue of their lives, as if they’d otherwise be sent to the lions for their lifestyle. The same can be said of some who use marijuana. It matters little to them if the candidate who toes their single-issue line is going to raise taxes on everybody, sell America to China, or put more people in jail. All they care about is the legalization of marijuana.
Of course, there are key issues that all conservatives stand for. These are the values that mean most to us. They are the cards we hold tight to our chest. We may prioritize them differently, though. For some of us, it may be abortion. For others, it may be immigration. For me, it’s education.
But however we look at a political candidate, we must never view them as a savior.
Politicians are not messianic figures. When a people view their leader as a messianic hero, rest assured, despotism is right around the corner. Unless we’re deluding ourselves, we must all admit that every candidate holds some view, some position we disagree with. However many people there are in this country, no two people hold exactly the same views. They may vote for the same person, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with each other about everything.
Both political parties are now giving the message that you’re either for them or against them. There is no more middle ground. You’re for same-sex marriage or you’re a hater. You support immigration or you’re a fascist. You agree the globe is warming apocalyptically or you are a denier — and people eat this extremism up, especially when it comes to global warming.
Many Americans now seem to think a candidate must adhere to the views of his or her base about every issue. This is absurd. While I agree with Bernie Sanders about corporations being in the back pocket of the government, and agree with him about the rising cost of education, I simply cannot and never will vote for a socialist. Many of my friends will, however, because they agree with him that there’s an elite one-percent who should be paying more of their fair share.
Americans should look at the candidate as a whole. We hear that as an excuse whenever there’s a scandal, of course, or when the past is dredged up to reveal some ugly skeleton in the closet. But there’s a serious idea beneath the admonition. Rather than being swayed by a random bunch of quotes on social media, people should ask: What does the future look like if this man or woman is elected? In the case of Sanders, in the case of Clinton, we’re looking at socialism. Time and again, Clinton has agreed with the case for taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Trump is no ideal candidate either, though he is more vocal on topics that interest me. But he has donated and supported the Democrats for years.
Face it: There is no perfect candidate. There is no one out there who agrees with you or with me 100% of the time about everything.
And that’s how it should be.