This archived article was written by: Scott Froehlich
Campaigning for the 2018 midterm elections is in full swing, and for many Utahns, there are more Mitts being thrown around than during Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. As politicians and local leaders alike mull over potential candidates, we as citizens bear the burden of sifting through the options for the men or women who will represent us on a national level. And for many students at Utah State University Eastern, this will be their first opportunity to participate in one of America’s most treasured expressions of democracy.
Although the general election isn’t for seven months, the next two months before primary elections are crucial in the process of determining who makes it to the official ballots. Hands will be shaken, babies will be kissed and there will no doubt be smear campaigns aplenty.
While it is common practice for many to vote along their party lines, there is no time like the present to start using, and sharpening, our critical-thinking skills.
Every politician uses their platform to reach out to their potential voters and pander to them by taking hardline stances on major issues such as the economy, abortion and immigration, etc. Unfortunately, many of these electoral hopefuls build their campaign around one focal point, making it hard for people to hitch their wagon to a single candidate. This is where we need to use our better judgement to find someone who touches on enough topics to truly represent the population as a whole.
Easier said than done, right?
There is no doubt that politicians have hidden agendas and will lie through their teeth to get elected (think Bush Sr. and his “Read my lips” promise), but that does not mean that there aren’t representatives who try to do what is right by their constituents. To ensure this, we need to hold our leaders accountable and use our votes to oust those who lose touch with our common interests.
This principle can apply to all levels of elected positions, be it a senator or the captain of the chess team. No one is immune to the democratic process and history shows the pitfalls of allowing an unchecked leader to progress his or her agenda. Politicians, especially presidents, are good examples of this trend.
During the Bush administration, the war in Iraq devastated our economy and the Middle East’s well-being, all under the false pretense that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
While Barack Obama was in office, his promise of pulling troops out of said war rang hollow as he not only kept troops in Iraq and Afghanistan but inserted forces in Syria and Libya as well. And for our current commander in chief, the promise of a “greater” America is being compromised at the expense of a divided country and constant transfer of power.
These issues can be properly resolved, if not overturned, if we have a balance of influence on Capitol Hill that is run by a cooperative Congress. Only the voters can prevent the constant partisan infights by removing career politicians and replacing them with more progressive and/or moderate voices. There can’t be change if we allow the same rank and file Republicans and Democrats to carry the torch of corruption and special interests.
This election will see a wide variety of hot-button issues, many that are already hotly contested. Gun control, DACA legislation, border security and many others will split voters among party lines, but it is imperative we find the right balance between reason and sentimentality. So while you are standing in a voting booth, or filling out your absentee ballot, think to yourself: do I want to vote with my gut, or should I vote with my brain?