What we choose

The GOP debate is tonight. I think I’m going to skip it. I know Twitter will give me the highlights. And it feels a little strange after watching the Democratic debate, which actually dealt with issues I care about in a mostly positive way.

After all, I don’t have to choose a Republican to vote for, but I do have to choose a Democratic. Which means I have to figure out which person has the most effective plan for dealing with the things think are important.

It’s kind of the weird thing about all this–candidates run on platforms based on what they think the country wants at any given time. They have to be comprehensive; for that reason, a lot of what they say comes across as broad or generalized. They have plans, but those plans depend on so many other factors.

As a voter, I have to know specifically what matters to me. I should look at the broad scheme and think about who has the best intentions for the United States. But particularly in this race, I can’t say any of the remaining blue candidates would necessarily be a bad choice.

I do know which issues about which I care the most and those that I know are important but about which I don’t necessarily have strong feelings. E.g., Intellectually, I know why people care about Social Security, but it’s not a central question for me. On the other hand, I do have strong feelings about gender and racial equality, environmental protection, healthcare, and education.

One of the strange effects of “living” online is that I think we all have a sense we’re supposed to care about everything, know about everything, consider everything when we make these decisions. And while I think basing our decisions on one issue can be damaging, I think it’s also unrealistic to make the same demands of a private individual that you do of an elected official. We’re not experts in everything and we don’t have to be.

After all, that’s why we have government. To make sure everyone’s voices are heard and everyone’s concerns addressed–within the limitations of the law. It’s the citizen’s job to speak up and make herself heard both by voting and by engaging with her representative; it’s the representative’s job to listen and present the citizen’s concerns to the government. If any of us fail in that, the system fails. We can see the ways in which it fails. It’s not pretty.

Which is why it’s important to meditate on what we care about and why. And then make our choices based on those considerations.

Which issues matter to you the most?

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