Oct 28, 2008

I’m voting for… (Help!): An inside look at the mind of an undecided voter

by Drew Menard

The race for the White House has turned the corner and at breaking speeds finds Nov. 4 straight ahead. With the election nearing its climax, the two presidential candidates, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are sure to spend a great deal of time and resources with one group of voters in particular, the undecided or swing voters.

“From a civic standpoint, few creatures are as contemptible,” said Ezra Klein of the Los Angeles Times in a recently-published article.
Surely it may be frustrating for some loyal party supporters to find that not everyone agrees with their viewpoints, but to consider someone “contemptible” merely because they want to make a more informed decision is a bit harsh.

Though I may be a minority in the undecided voter pool as one who wishes to choose the person who would best lead this country, I have simply not found sufficient qualities one way or the other. But I still do not think it is appropriate to simply think of the swing vote as a bunch of “stoned slackers” and “dopey kids,” as Bill O’Reilly said during the 2004 election.

Sure, the undecided populous is bound to entail the lazy college student who is willing to sell his vote to the highest bidder. An example of this collegian cliché is voters like 36-year-old James Pengov of Ohio, who made an offer on Ebay to sell his vote, according to the Associated Press. That influence in an election apparently had a starting price tag of $50.

Perhaps it is just my own laziness to blame that I have not made up my own mind. I have heard more than one person tell me that they will not vote for Obama because “he is black.” One of my co-workers mentioned they would not vote for McCain since he “looks scary” and “is too old.” First of all, Obama is racially mixed, and second of all, I thought that we were voting for president of the United States, not prom king, though the first argument is not appropriate even for that.

“Informed voters” such as these have caused me to wonder what criteria I should use to choose which presidential nominee is best to become president elect.

As a Christian, it is acceptable to choose based on Christian principles. Since the Reagan era, the republican nominee has been more widely accepted in the evangelical realm. From what I heard at the Saddleback Presidential Forum, Obama had a better direct answer to faith than McCain.

Obama said, “I believe (that) Jesus Christ died for my sins and that I am redeemed through him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis.”

McCain said, “(Being a Christian) means I’m saved and forgiven. We’re talking about the world. Our faith encompasses not just the United States of America, but the world. Can I tell you another story real quick?”

I am not naïve enough to believe that either candidate has a relationship with Jesus Christ just because of their rehearsed answers at a presidential forum, but Obama’s answer was better rehearsed than McCain’s. To make the decision based on a claim of Christianity would be easier if it were not for the fact that Obama’s stance on moral issues, like abortion and gay marriage, are not, in my opinion, congruent with Christian principles.

However, there is more to choosing a president, in my mind, than just matters of faith (not to downplay their significance). Health care, energy, war policy, taxes, government spending and so much more go into making an informed decision. I could tell you what is important to me, and I could give strong arguments from both sides as to why they fall short.

Obama’s Web site promises “real change in Washington” and McCain’s “Reform, prosperity and peace.” When it comes down to it, I just do not see in either candidate the true “change” America needs. I believe that America needs someone who is not tied to a political party or wrapped up deep in Washington. Real change will come when someone who has the best interest of the American people, and not just one political party, steps up. America needs a candidate who is not influenced by power and money and is willing to stand up against the corruption that encompasses our already oversized and overly powerful government. We live in a fallen world and having a perfect government is just not a realistic possibility. I then, will not be content to sit back and pout about my discontent.

I will vote in this election, and I will vote for whomever I deem best to lead this country be it democrat or republican. I urge you, undecided voter, to do the same. Do not vote for McCain because you think Obama is a terrorist, or for Obama because you think McCain will croak in five days. Vote for who is best able to lead this country by making an informed decision. Though the election may feel like a giant game of “red rover,” do not be afraid to break through party lines to make the right decision.

To those of you who have made your decision and are well-informed, I commend you and encourage you to stand strong in your decision and even help your undecided friends understand the issues.

I may just be a college hippie to some of you, but to the few of you who want to make the right decision and feel overwhelming pressure from both sides, take hope. You are not alone and there is still time. Just remember to vote for president of the United States of America and not prom king of Rydell High.


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