Column: Know the candidates and issues if you plan to vote
Our Arizona state primary election will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 26. It's about time. After all of the media and Internet ads, after all the phone calls about candidates and/or issues, it will be nice for things to quiet down for a while. Unfortunately, the respite will be short, since the midterm elections are in November.
Historically, primary elections don't draw a lot of voters. The right to vote is a cornerstone of our democratic Republic. It is a sacred right, but like all rights, it incurs certain obligations.
The main responsibility when voting is to educate oneself prior to casting a ballot. This means reading or listening to all of the candidates. It requires a voter to study both sides of every ballot measure before reaching a conclusion of where to mark the ballot on that measure. It does not mean that one should vote for a candidate for every office or for every ballot initiative. If, after studying all of the candidates, you don't think either or any of them are worthy of that elective office, don't vote for anyone running for that office. If you are confused after reading all of the material on a particular ballot measure, don't vote either for or against it.
We are urged to vote in every election by public service announcements on TV, radio and in print. If you haven't had time to look into any of the candidates or ballot measures, disregard these ads and don't vote at all. Why should the vote of someone who hasn't researched the campaigners or the issues cancel the vote of those who have done their due diligence? Don't vote for all Democrats because your mother and father were Democrats. Don't vote all Republican, because every one in your family has voted Republican since Lincoln.
It is a good time, prior to an election, to do a little introspection. This requires the use of logic and facts while suspending the injection of emotions.
If you come to the conclusion, through what you have seen yourself or documented facts, that government bureaucracies do a good job for the most part, you lean toward the progressive side.
If you think that all things are equal in all of the 50 states (or 57 states if you're from Illinois) and can be handled more fairly from Washington, D.C., then you lean liberal.
If you think that the Constitution is a 'living' document, that doesn't require amendments to change, but only interpretation by modern judges, you are a progressive.
If you find it reasonable that the government needs to supply everyone with an equal outcome, not just a level playing field, you will find a happy home on the far left.
If you conclude that there is a minimal amount of fraud in social programs, like welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, disability payments, etc., you definitely fall on the left side of the political spectrum.
If you find that CEOs, bankers, Wall Street investors, professional athletes, entertainers, insurance executives and pharmaceutical company owners and stockholders make too much money and need to "share the wealth," you are a progressive and should vote for those candidates and issues they espouse.
If, on the other hand, you find that almost everything is more effectively handled at a local or state level, or by private charities, businesses or citizens, you are probably conservative in your political outlook.
If you think that many centralized bureaucracies have little incentive or will to root out fraud and may, in some instances overlook it as a matter of 'job security,' you lean to the right side of the political spectrum.
If you believe that many of those on public assistance find themselves there because of the bad decisions they have made, especially regarding the use of alcohol, drugs and/or promiscuity, you most likely consider yourself a person on the right.
If you find that government assistance has become a generational trampoline instead of temporary safety net, you are a conservative.
If you know that the U.S. Constitution means what is written in it and the original intent, in most instances, can be found in the writings of our Founders, you probably have a Tea Party conservative bent. (Isn't it strange that a group that espouses adherence to our foundational document is seen as 'radical' by many?)
As a result of such thoughts and others, you may find yourself to be a conservative, progressive, moderate or libertarian. What really matters during any election is that you study the candidates and issues yourself.
If you haven't done this, you have another obligation. That obligation is to tear up your mail in ballot and stay at home on election day.