Someone once asked me why I generally vote Democrat up and down the line with very few exceptions. My response was a simple one. Elections are about platforms and what candidates stand for. They are not about individuals. Throughout my years in politics, individuals who run for office on a particular party ticket, do so because they are committed to the principles of that party. There have been, of course, exceptions to that belief system. Until this year, however, those exceptions have presented themselves on the under card of a political ballot. The closer to the grass roots we get, the less the party cares about allegiance to party principles.
This philosophy, however, is one of the reasons that I find the practice of ticket splitting for President, Senator, and Congressman increasingly absurd. When I hear someone tell me that I am going to vote for candidate A for President because I either despise candidate B or agree with candidate A, but will vote for the senator and congressman from the other party just so I can be certain that there are sufficient checks and balances on the President is an absurdist position.
We elect people to govern us as our representatives. Governments are designed to provide services, collect revenues, and develop laws that serve the people of their constituencies. We elect people, as Thomas Jefferson said, "to provide their best judgment, and work for the people." When we elect people whose mandate is to prevent the government from functioning, we are doing ourselves a tremendous injustice. We defeat the intent of our own representational democracy. We get what becomes a permanent state of gridlock.
In six days, we go to the ballot box and cast our votes for President, 1/3 of the Senate, and all of the House of Representatives. It is a unique election. Maybe the two most unique facts of this election are that the Democratic nominee started as a Republican and the Republican nominee spent most of his life as a Democrat. They are also the two most unpopular candidates to have ever been nominated by their respective parties for the presidency.
More importantly, however, we appear to have gone through an election cycle that has been policy free and innuendo and accusation full. It will go down in history as the worst campaign ever with vitriol and accusation taking the place of discussions of campaign differences. As an American people, many of us are going to vote on a negative. Either we hate the other candidate more or we are choosing the perceived lesser of two evils. This is an abomination.
What do we believe in? Do we want a President who believes that every person that works deserves to earn a wage that keeps him/her out of poverty, or do we want a President who believes that there is no need for a minimum wage and that employer largess will make everyone rich? Do we want a President who believes that a woman has the same rights as men, including the right to choose what happens to her own body or do we want a President who insults women and believes that a group of old men in some legislature have the right to make the most important personal decision that a woman ever has to make? Do we want a President who believes that we are a nation of immigrants and different religions or do we want a President who will build walls, expel those who were born into a religion, or shows his bigotry on a daily basis? Do we want a President who has worked with leaders throughout the world and helped to end the horror of Osama Bin Laden or do we want a President who wants to allow nuclear proliferation and views Vladimir Putin as a great world leader? Do we want a President whose tax policies don't increase taxes on anyone making less than a quarter of a million dollars a year, while raising taxes on those who are on the highest end of the income range, or do we want a President whose tax proposals give over 95% of it's tax cuts to people making a million dollars or more? Do we want a President who wants to take the ACA and correct the problems in it while keeping the positives such as keeping children to age 26, portability of benefits, and guaranteed coverage, or do we want a President who screams about dismantling the ACA but offers nothing in replacement?
Where are we on any one of a myriad of issues that affect us? How many people really know the candidate's views on education, on farm policy, on infrastructure rebuilding, on the modernization of the military, on LGBT issues, etc.? The point is, this has not been an election on the issues. It has been an election based on personality. That is a major problem. This nation talks about being on the wrong path. We argue about the problems of gridlock, and yet we are on the fringe of extending that direction for the next four to eight years.
We know that Hillary Clinton, for all her faults, is a policy wonk who will pay great attention to the details of government. She will attempt to move an agenda forward. Whether or not you think so, her policies are centrist to slightly left of centrist and she has a long history of working with both democrats and republicans in congress. We also know that Donald Trump, for all his supposed acumen as a business leader, has demonstrated little to no interest in policy. He has demonstrated an unbelievable lack of attention to detail who rambles onto topic after topic. Trump has shown only an ability to rile up both the democrats and republicans in government. There is no reason to think that he will be able to work with an already hostile congress and accomplish anything substantive.
This is a pivotal election. We have limped through the early part of the 21st century leaping from crisis to crisis. We have faced the worst terrorist attack ever on this nation, we have experienced a continual war footing for over a dozen years, we have experienced one of the worst financial collapses in this nation's history. Throughout this, we've been less than effective in our dealings with these crises because the two political parties cannot agree with one another. This election needs to change that. We have to elect a policy person as President and we must elect both a Senate and a House that will work with that President to meet the problems that face the nation head on. After the next four year cycle, if a united governance doesn't work, we need to turn to the other party and give them a chance to provide a constructive solution. In any case, the opposition party must be a loyal opposition and work constructively to get the best legislation passed to benefit the American people. When you've reviewed the platforms, and the candidates allegiance to those platforms, cast your vote and give the President-Elect his or her chance. Vote the President his / her party ticket. That would be a first for the 21st century.