Vote with Conscience, Not Emotion

by Daniel Cooper

“Angry, apathetic, and amnesiac” is how former president Bill Clinton described voters in a fiery speech a few weeks ago.

In his native Arkansas, Clinton defended the policies and actions of the party he represented in the White House for eight years. Clinton’s speech centered on the anger voters feel towards Democrats because of the slow economic recovery and the still out-of-control level of unemployment. The anger and apathy, he claimed, prevent discussion on the real issues, issues that, if resolved or even compromised upon, could seriously help the country’s progress, progress that is sorely needed in the United States right now.

“It’s okay for people to still be mad, frustrated and feel helpless because that’s their lives,” Clinton said as he addressed the crowd in Little Rock. “I get that, but let me ask you something, especially everybody here with gray hair like me. If you have lived long enough, you would know that, every time in your life that you’ve made a decision that was important when you were really mad, there is an 80 percent chance that you made a mistake. Ain’t that right?”

This is a bold position for a president that all but eliminated the deficit during his stint in office, only to hand the reigns to a leader who, after being unsuccessful at drilling oil, tried his hand at drilling our country into a deficit. And while I’m definitely not saying that we as voters shouldn’t be angry, or that we don’t have a right to be angry, I am saying that we need to take our responsibility seriously as citizens of a republic and vote with a conscience instead of an emotion.

There’s a growing dichotomy on the American political stage. On the Democratic side, people aren’t satisfied with the level of achievement we’ve seen since the Obama administration took office and since the Democratic Congress gained a majority in Washington.

Voters who would otherwise make informed decisions about whom they vote for are simply deciding not to vote, angry because the stimulus package wasn’t big enough or the health care package didn’t include something they thought it should have. Simply put, there’s too much whining.

On the Republican side, candidates are fueling the fire of angry voters by saying that the Democrats have had 21 months to fix things and the economy is still sluggish, so obviously they aren’t up for the job. Candidates who would otherwise have legitimate campaign platforms and intelligent speeches articulating how they see the issues are now resulting to scare tactics and red herring logic to twist the arms of voters into believing that there’s no option other than to support them in the election.

The goals of our legislature should be to solve problems, not create them, and if we don’t stop this incessant bickering for control of Congress, the current economic climate will continue to deteriorate until it reaches a point at which we no longer have options. My advice to voters: Get all the real information you can, use that information to make an informed decision on which candidate can take this country to the next level and, finally, don’t let politicians pander to your baser instincts for their own political gain.

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