Walking through the West Mall on the campus of the University of Texas always seems to affect my day. I might get accosted by someone telling me that its the perfect afternoon to save polar bears. Or maybe Ill hear an acapella choir group trying to brighten my morning with show tunes. Last week, however, I was handed a piece of paper that made me both furious and terrified. It spelled the end of democracy everywhere.
It was a flier from the University Democrats that read, Ready for change? Vote for EVERY DEMOCRAT on the ballot. Dont stop at the top! I had to fight the urge to walk to a corner store, buy a lighter, torch the flier and burn the person passing them out.
Straight ticket voting is the worst thing you can do as an American voter. It doesnt matter if youre a Republican or a Democrat if you dont know about a persons beliefs, you shouldnt vote them into public office. I know it would take more time than a busy college student has to look up every candidates voting record and personal statement.
Nonetheless, it is every voters civic duty to be informed. That is the point of voting you have to find out and decide which individuals you want to represent you.
While there are two parties in America, there are nearly 400 million people with their own individual beliefs. Everyone has his or her own opinion of this issue or that issue, and even when people are forced to identify with a certain group, many will disagree with their partys policy. That is why in February 2008, a Gallup Poll showed that 34 percent of Americans call themselves Independent.
But why do Independent candidates fail so spectacularly? Its because we have bought into a red or blue culture as a country. If you dont like red, you have to like blue. It isnt a possibility that a Republican might appeal to a Democrats beliefs, or vice versa.
If there were more than two parties, it might be more reasonable to think about voting a straight ticket. There are more chances to find a party tailored to your own beliefs among a group of six, rather than two.
Prior to this Election Day, take some time to actually learn a thing or two about these people who may be representing you someday. Forget about the presidential candidates there may be a Republican candidate for railroad commissioner who you think has the right idea about energy policy, or a Democratic candidate for Congress whose plan for health care makes complete sense. But you will never know if you close your mind to every choice but all red or all blue.
If we all voted for people and not parties, maybe wed actually be able to get something done. For now, I have to get back to making my flier to pass out on the West Mall tomorrow. It reads, Ready for change? Vote for EVERY PERSON you feel represents your concerns on the ballot. Dont stop at the top!