Vote for the candidate, not his party

Part of the reason that I am voting this Tuesday for _____ is that I believe something: I believe that people are finite. It seems to me that a person can only run so fast, jump so high, and live so long. More to the point, no human is all-good, all-knowing, or all-wise. We have histories, cultures, desires, opinions, and beliefs—and there is tremendous diversity in all of these, across the board.

In this country, we are been born into a culture that agrees, by and large, to live by a set of rules that has been mostly set down by those who came before us. A great history of thought and casuistry has shaped these rules, and as a people we choose representatives to control both how these rules change and how they are enforced. These rules include not only laws, but also the paradigms and social forces that influence behavior — and often these become intertwined.

But because I believe humans are finite, that we are imperfect and all too often fallible, I believe something else. I believe that the people who represent us must recognize, as a basic requirement to lead, their own finitude and imperfection: that they could be wrong and that they have a greater moral obligation than their constituents to worry on a daily basis whether they are.

I refuse to vote for a candidate who believes in any policy without question, regardless of how precisely that policy coincides with my own beliefs.

Ask J.S. Mill: to elect a person who is dogmatic is to undermine the democratic process, especially when their dogma is popular. Watching the debates, I was struck with the impression that certain candidates held their beliefs to be undebatable. To quote Teddy Roosevelt:

"To a certain extent his work must be done in accordance with his individual beliefs and theories of right and wrong. To a yet greater extent it must be done in combination with others, he yielding or modifying certain of his own theories and beliefs so as to enable him to stand on a common ground with his fellows, who have likewise yielded or modified certain of their theories and beliefs. There is no need of dogmatizing about independence on the one hand or party allegiance on the other. There are occasions when it may be the highest duty of any man to act outside of parties and against the one with which he has himself been hitherto identified; and there may be many more occasions when his highest duty is to sacrifice some of his own cherished opinions for the sake of

the success of the party which he on the whole believes to be right."

In short, one of the two major candidates can be fairly criticized for having never voted against his party. The other, however, speaks with words that convey a rigid  determination to stick to his guns. This second candidate also uses his speeches to rail against his opponent, constructing elaborate arguments that strive to show how wrong the opponent is, how the opponent doesn't understand, and how clearly the right way is his own.

Often, there is no real evidence to support these claims. There is dogma, opinion, and sentiment — pathos abounding! — but no logos, little attempt to establish common ground, and far too obvious an attempt to distort ethos.

So I enjoin you, please, to consider carefully what is most important to you: to live in a state where you are comfortable, where you sacrifice liberty for the perception of safety, and where you give up social responsibility to keep what you can get; or to live in a country where the first priorities are equality, justice, and peace. The choice is not between two parties. The choice is between a man who will negotiate, and one who will not. The choice, ostensibly, is yours.


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