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The General Election: Deciding for Whom to Vote
A process for deciding what political candidates to vote for in the General Election
The November election is less than a month away, and Democrats and Republicans are locked in a battle for the same offices. In the past, candidates could be chosen on the basis of their personal characteristics, their preparation for the job, and their stated commitments on political issues; but, since Trump’s election, the election of a candidate is tantamount to the election of a political party. Therefore, what matters now is the political party to which the candidate belong or the political philosophy to which they adhere. For instance, in local, state, and national governments, practically everything is decided on the basis of party affiliation; and if one elected official fails to support the party, he or she faces threats and assaults from their party. Hence, you can no longer vote for candidates alone; you must vote for party-candidates.
In order to make an informed decision in this regard, you must become familiar with party philosophy and stances on political issues.
It is interesting to note that the two parties cling to opposing philosophies. Democrats follow what may be called “progressive/liberal” viewpoints, while Republicans follow conservative ideas. In order to make an informed decision on for whom to vote, the first step is to understand these two philosophies in light of the two parties.
First, Democrats follow progressive/liberal philosophy. A note here: The term progressive/liberal is used here because most of us Democrats rather use the term progressive instead of liberal, but historic Democratic philosophy remains the same, with few exceptions. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy says Democrat philosophy “is guided by a commitment to equality, promoting the widest range of social, economic, and political opportunities for all citizens, and the belief that federal government is the best tool for reaching those goals.” That is perhaps the best statement you can find about Democratic beliefs—and it needs no further elucidation.
Second, Republicans adhere to conservative philosophy and are committed “to individualism and free enterprise,” and they “generally believe that economic, social and political stability can best be achieved with a minimum of federal intervention,” states The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.
Hopefully these brief statements are sufficient for your understanding of the two philosophies and for helping you to clarify your own political views and values.
The next step in this decision-making process will help you to understand the political issues that face the nation and the world—and, indeed, face all of us—and to understand which ones each party supports and opposes. The issues discussed here are basically categorical.
Economy. Economy deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods, and with services and management. Consequently, it includes a number on issues. Among them, but not limited to, are jobs, tax reform, unions, and wages.
Jobs. Both Democrats and Republicans support creation of jobs, but they differ on what and how they are created. More specifically, Democrats support “expanding roads and bridges, public transit, airports, passenger and freight rail lines, and high-speed broadband networks,” their 2016 Platform says. They also support creating “clean-energy jobs, and investing in science, in education, and in technology.” According to their 2016 Platform, Republicans support investments in infrastructure, but they insist on “public-private partnerships.” Moreover, they support creating jobs in coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, and hydropower, with limited regulations.
Tax reform. Democrats generally support raising taxes on the wealthy, and Republicans generally advocate cutting taxes on everything and everybody. More precisely, Democrats support tax reform in which “wealthiest Americans and largest corporations pay their fair share of taxes” and in which tax breaks are rolled back on “companies that ship jobs overseas,” in which tax breaks are “eliminated on big oil and gas companies,” and in which ‘inversions and other methods companies use to dodge their tax responsibilities” tightened, according to their Platform. Republicans propose cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, capping the rate for small business at 25 percent, and setting individual tax rates at 35 percent, 25 percent, and 12 percent, according to their Platform.
Unions. Democrats generally support organized labor. They are committed “to making it easier for workers in the public and private sector to exercise their right to organize and join unions,” and will continue to oppose laws that “eliminate” the dues-check-off procedures, roll back “prevailing wage standards, abolish fair share requirement, restrict the use of protections, and require annual recertification efforts,” stated their platform. “We will oppose legislation and lawsuits that would strike down laws protecting the rights of teachers and other public employees.” Republicans, on the other hand, support what is called “Right-to-Work laws,” which they say will “protect the economic liberty of the modern workforce.” All workers, including union workers, they believe, “should be free to accept raises and rewards without veto power of officials.”
Wages. Democrats support raising the minimum wage. They “believe the minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage,” states their Platform. “We must raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over time.” Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage, believing it limits employment and “is an issue that should be handled at the state and local level,” says their Platform.
Entitlements. The issue of entitlements includes such programs as health care, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). I will give a brief snapshot here.
Health care. Democrats support the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” but they admit the need for changes. Some, however, are leaning toward universal health care. Republicans, although they have run into a roadblock at the present time, still support “repealing and replacing” the ACA. The President recently issued an executive order that takes away subsidies that help the poor to purchase insurance, affectively driving the ACA out of business. It is interesting to note that an August 4 Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans (55 percent) approve of the ACA, of which 47 percent are Democrats; 44 percent, Independents; and 29 percent, Republicans. This may help you in your decision.
SNAP, also known as the “Food Stamp” program. Democrats support the program and continue to fight to protect it. Republicans often seek to cut funds from the program. To help you make a decision on parties, here are some facts you may need to know: First, recipients include Whites (8.8 million), African Americans (5.7 million), and Hispanics (2.5 million). Second, over half of the recipients are children (19.9 million). And third, the President proposes to cut $193 million from the program over the next decade, according to the Quartz Daily Brief. These facts should be helpful in terms of clarifying your values and needs.
Social Security. Democrats say they “will fight every effort to cut, privatize, or weaken Social Security, including attempts to raise the retirement age, to diminish benefits by cutting cost-of-living adjustments, or to reduce benefits,” reported Mark Miller of Reuters. Republicans, in their Platform, support what they call “a modernize system of retirement security.” That system includes “the many reforms being proposed.” They further say “all options should be considered to preserve Social Security,” and “tax increases to shore up the program” will be opposed.
Medicare/Medicaid. Democrats generally support both. They believe the goals of the programs are better achieved by the Federal Government, not by the States. Republicans, however, have generally opposed the programs, but now they propose reform, which includes “not imposing changes on persons 55 and older,” but changes on those below 55. It includes transitioning to, what they call, a “premium-support model that guarantees enrollees an income-adjusted contribution toward a plan of their choice, with catastrophic protection,” and sending block-grants to States to use without strings attached.
TANF, also known as “Welfare.” Democrats have always supported TANF. Republicans, however, have never looked favorably on any entitlements. Recently, some Republicans State lawmakers have proposed drug-testing poor people who are recipients of TANF.
Others issues. Listed below are many other issues, which, due to space, cannot be addressed. Look at each of them, using the Democrat and Republican 2016 Platforms posted on their websites, and then decide whether the Democratic stances or the Republican positions match your economic needs and your values. A note of caution here: Be careful that you do not ignore your personal needs and vote for a candidate based on your concern for social and religious values. On social and religious issues, the genie is already out of the bottle and perhaps cannot be put back. For instance, according to a Reuters’ poll, 58 percent of Americans say transgender persons should be allowed to serve in the military, a Gallup poll found that 64 percent say same-sex marriage should be recognized by law, and a Quinnipiac University poll said 89 percent say it should be illegal for employers to discriminate against their employees. Ask yourself if you are willing to sacrifice your economic welfare for religious or moral values that perhaps cannot be stopped.
The final step is to make your decision, which includes clarifying your political values. Ask yourself what issues are important to you? And what is the degree to which they are important? This will determine whether you are Democrat or Republican. For instance, if you consider the Democratic responses to the issues, in most cases, are of upmost importance to you and your welfare, you will decide to vote for Democratic Party candidates. The same is true with Republican responses to the issues.
In conclusion, if you follow the steps listed here, you will decide to vote in harmony with your economic needs and personal values rather than vote for a candidate based on their nuanced stances on the issues, or on their qualifications and personal characteristics.
Is this the best way to vote? Certainly not! But given the hyper-partisan situation in politics these days, there can hardly be another way.
- Military Spending
- Foreign Policy
Global Warming/Climate Change
- Border Wall
- Immigration policy
- Sanctuary cities
- LGBT rights
- Same-sex marriage
- Trans-genders in the military
- Gender equality
- Police brutality
- Supreme Court justices
- Voter ID Laws
© 2017 Lawrence L Beale