Elections: choosing between dumb and dumber

By Garrett Vande Kamp |

Since the party conventions, the presidential election is in full swing. It is the dominant issue in the news, President Obama and Governor Romney are blazing the campaign trail, and hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on advertising. Amid this circus, voters are starting to look at the candidates’ stances on issues.

To help, websites have sprung up to help people learn more about the candidates.  One such site is isidewith.com. Here, users take a short political questionnaire, and a program calculates the percentage of agreement with each presidential candidate. Interestingly, isidewith.com incorporates all presidential candidates, including the Libertarian and Green Parties. I took the survey, and the results were more disappointing than surprising. Before I get to my results, however, I should disclose my personal beliefs and objections to the two major candidates.

Over the course of my political studies, I have refined my political beliefs into a worldview I call ethical sustainability. Simply, it is the idea that the government should establish policies that guarantee relatively prosperous living conditions over the long term without substantially violating human rights. Thus, my evaluation of candidates always centers on the issues of abortion, the environment and the budget. This becomes problematic, as candidates usually do not wholly agree with me on these few important issues.

My problem with Obama is his endorsement of abortion. As a state senator, he voted against banning partial-birth abortions. He does not support parental notification when minors seek abortion. When states defund Planned Parenthood and direct the money to whole-woman care, he contracts with local Planned Parenthood groups.

My problems with Romney are his environmental views. Romney has repeatedly stated that climate change will not be a priority in his administration.  He supports expanding the use of fossil fuels, which cause pollution and hurt local ecosystems. The third party candidates are also split: the Green and Libertarian candidates both support abortion, while the Constitution candidate disregards the environment.

Still, my results indicated that I agreed with Romney 68 percent and Obama 62 percent. These numbers are ridiculously close for two candidates that are polar opposites.  Yet I am not surprised, and I think my results reflect a broader trend. The nominated candidates are so polarized that picking a candidate feels like choosing between dumb and dumber.

This country deserves better. Sadly, the electoral system encourages a two-party rather than a multi-party system, which creates candidates that are more likely to have moderate beliefs.

This does not mean I will not participate in the election. The fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, that 1.2 million abortions are performed each year forces me to vote Republican, even though I may not otherwise agree with Romney. I also know of candidates who do reflect my views well; McCain’s positions make me wish I could have voted in the 2000 and 2008 elections. Even still, I desire a day when the parties will move to the middle of the political spectrum rather than racing to the extremes.

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