As November 2012 gets closer, the buzzing and whirring from political spinning is nearly deafening. The challenge is processing the information, as an individual, and determining indisputable fact from flat out fiction. For many young people this is the first election they will vote in. Many probably barely remember the way the media covered previous elections in their lifetime as they were too busy being kids, and now this bombardment of political lashing and blame games seems, well, shocking and confusing. But now is our time with new awareness and understanding of what journalists are talking about, what the candidates themselves are saying, to decide what we want for our futures. It’s frustrating trying to decipher news from implied opinion, but we have to try. Here are some facts about the incumbent:
President Barack Obama
In his first campaign for presidency, he voiced movements for hope and change for our country, which may have led the public to expect too much too quickly. Previously Senator from Illinois, in his first term he has advocated LGBT rights by repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for the military; he advocates same-sex marriage, and “was the first to provide hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights to same-sex couples,” all according to barackobama.com. His policy changes and attempts reflect a desire for fairness for the people. He also promotes equal, affordable healthcare for all, and specifically includes women. So far, the administration has added “more than 4.5 million private sector jobs and seen 29 straight months of job growth.” He also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and plans to invest in American manufacturing, reform Wall Street, and support small businesses.
- Obama and the issues: http://www.barackobama.com/record/economy
- Obama’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/barackobama
However you slice, dice, and stir-fry it, policy becomes a heated debate between citizens. Americans are hypersensitive to the issues that are important to them in this election because of the country’s economic struggles, shaky standing overseas, and basic difference in beliefs tied to social issues. Here’s the President’s most publicized opponent:
The former Governor of Massachusetts and previously CEO of Bain Capital. He helped put on the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and built up Bain Capital, emphasizing his business experience as proof that he can fix the government’s monetary issues. The candidate’s plan for a stronger economy includes five points according to mittromney.com: “building energy independence, ensuring Americans have the skills to succeed, opening markets that work for America, cutting the deficit, and championing small businesses.” He promotes the importance of education as well. According to his site, he advocates U.S. Military presence in countries that would pose any possible threat to ours. He is also against abortion, believes in traditional marriage (one man, one woman), and according to the Huffington Post, he would “get rid of” Planned Parenthood.
- Mitt Romney and the issues: http://www.mittromney.com/issues
- Opposing healthcare views: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/04/obama-mitt-romney-womens-health…
American elections are spitting contests between the Republicans and the Democrats. The easy access media: the front page of papers and the home page of websites are stampeded by donkeys and elephants. At first glance, there are only two parties to choose from. In this election, however, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party is pushing to be on the ballot in all fifty states, which would be a significant achievement for anybody who didn’t select R or D on their voter’s registration form.
Former Governor of New Mexico, he was also a former member of the Republican Party and is now what is called a third-party candidate. The Libertarian Party emphasizes what Johnson calls “fiscally responsible, socially tolerant.” As Governor he “eliminated New Mexico’s budget deficit,” according to garyjohnson2012.com, and advocates equal marriage rights, drug reform, lower taxes, protection of civil liberties, and less international military influence. He also believes that “a woman should be allowed to make her own decisions during pregnancy.”
- Johnson’s goals interview: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/05/11/exp-erin-gary-johns…
- Johnson’s speech at P.A.U.L Fest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL7BE34898EFC5C04E&v=4tLN5NBZ5KU&feat…
- Johnson’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/govgaryjohnson (scroll down his timeline for interview videos)
- Johnson on all the issues: http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/issues
- The Libertarian Party: http://www.lp.org/platform
Most importantly, you must read for yourself. No one else will do it for you. Being the change you want to see in the world means taking well-informed action. We cannot jump to conclusions or be too quick to judge, because one small policy change can make way for an even greater one. Sometimes our vote won’t mean we won, but it does mean that we are starting our change. This is how evolution works. It starts with one change and more will occur until the species adapts to be strongest. It is time for us to help ourselves. Here are some interesting links describing more in-depth and obscure issues and the candidates’ ideas, opinions about the current system, and what went on at the Republican National Convention:
- For a side-by-side view of the candidates’ (http://2012.presidential-candidates.org/) you can read Romney and Ryan’s speeches from the Republican National Convention and see every candidate’s stance on every issue. Click on any issue on the left panel and scroll down to see each candidate’s opinion on it
- Interview – Broken political system? With Johnson and Buddy Roemer: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/08/26/exp-roemer–johnson…
- Reaction to Paul Ryan’s speech: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/30/paul-ryans-speech-in-three-words/
- What happened when Ron Paul supporters spoke up at the Republican National Convention: http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/the-ron-paul-revolt/