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Mon, Feb. 17

Column: Don’t vote if…

With more than a month to go before the General Election, all of us will be inundated with political television, radio and telephone ads. In addition, if this year is like every other, there will be seemingly limitless public service announcements urging everyone to vote. Celebrities and sports figures will tell us that it is our civic duty to vote. Some may even point to the men and women who fought our wars so that we could maintain our right to vote.

Informed citizens should be encouraged to vote. Uninformed voters should be discouraged from exercising that right. Our Founding Fathers advised us of our unalienable rights bestowed on us by our Creator. They enumerated them in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They understood that with every right, there is a corresponding obligation. The obligation for voting is that the individual study the issues, the candidates and their positions prior to entering the voting booth.

The first step to becoming an educated voter is to know our government. If you believe that our government is a democracy, you should do a little research before you express your views by voting. In the interest of saving time, the US government is a democratic republic. In a pure democracy, the citizens decide every issue. It is cumbersome and all pure democracies of any size collapse under their own weight. In a democratic republic, we elect representatives to closely study the issue for us and they pass the laws, thus enabling the citizens to go about their daily business.

If one’s education did not include a basic civics class, he or she should enroll in one or obtain books that will develop the knowledge of how our government works. If any individual doesn’t know what the three branches of our government are, they should not be urged to vote. If a person doesn’t understand the balance of power and the checks between the three branches of our government or between the federal and the state governments, that person should suppress the impulse to vote until he or she does.

Rational motives to vote are numerous and self-evident, reasons not to vote are not always that apparent on the surface. If someone is voting for a candidate because of political party affiliation only, because of a family history of party-line voting, that someone should sit out the election. If the voter is voting for a politician solely because of that campaigner’s race or gender, that voter should not waste the energy to get up off the sofa and go to the polls.

Any frivolous reason for casting a ballot either for or against a candidate, should cause a voter to restrain himself from engaging in the voting process. A nominee’s physical attractiveness, or lack thereof, should not be the single reason for voting either for or against someone running for public office.

In many elections, the voters feel like they are caught on the horns of a dilemma. The most obvious political cliché in almost every election is voting for “the lesser of two evils.” Yet, there is nothing wrong with an informed voter casting his or her ballot for the candidate that person believes will do the least amount of harm to the country. The option of not voting in protest or voting for a third-party candidate is an alternative, but the reality is that by doing so, one is giving a vote for the person whom he or she feels is the greater of the two evils.

In the current presidential race, both candidates have high untrustworthy ratings in the public opinion polls. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump is very “likeable” to the public. I doubt that matters too much in the election.

This year, the main issue seems to be the establishment candidate, Clinton, versus the unconventional change nominee, Trump. Hillary is pretty much sticking with President Obama’s policies in economics, energy, trade, taxes, immigration and foreign relations. In addition, she seems to have a close relationship with Wall Street and Goldman Sachs. Could there be any other reason not to release the content of her speeches to those groups?

Trump points out that a $20 trillion debt is way too much for the country to sustain. Donald would drill more, use clean coal, and other energy sources to make us energy independent. He would renegotiate our trade agreements like NAFTA, so that they are more favorable to our country and our workers. He would lower taxes, both individual and corporate in an effort to bring our industries back from other countries. He would stop immigration from war torn countries where radical Islamic terrorists are fighting until immigrants from those areas can be properly vetted. Trump would build the wall that Congress voted for a decade ago. He would withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities. Among his foreign policy changes would be to update NATO away from its antiquated Cold War positions directed at countering

Soviet aggression and readjust it to combat ISIS hegemony.

Whether Trump can affect all of these changes depends on a variety of possibilities such as a friendly Congress and decisions in federal court cases that are surely to come. If you understand these issues, by all means, vote your conscience. If you don’t, please don’t cancel out someone’s vote who has studied the candidates and their positions.

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