Vote Your Conscience
April 14, 2016
Filed In: Philosophy
When Virginia held its primary election on Super Tuesday this year, I found myself in a position that I had never been in before as a voter. Having missed only one voting day since I assumed my civic duty, I am typically well-read on the candidates and am prepared weeks in advance to cast my ballot. This year though, things were different. I didn’t make up my mind until 10am on election day.
There is a uniqueness in presidential election primaries in that we have to vote for one person among a field of candidates, many of which we likely agree with. Your final choice comes down to whom you like the most. Yet, we’re also dragged into the nasty underbelly of politics.
Elections should be about choosing the most competent person to lead, not voting against a particular candidate. As the pundits and news reports detail delegate math along the way, we’re tempted to vote for whom we think will win as opposed to who is actually right to lead us at this point in our nation’s history. This action degrades the democratic process and undercuts its noble objectives.
Delegate math is what leads us to vote for the career politician or the biggest bully instead of the unassuming governor or well credentialed intellect. All things being equal, we would vote for those who have little chance of winning not because our vote will make them win, but because we feel compelled to vote for the person whom we think is right.
We collectively pay the price for this game in the general election when we’re forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. We have to choose between two nuclear weapons, selected by their respective parties not based on their merits but because they’re believed to be able to obliterate their opponent in the electoral college.
The national quandary can be traced back to voters not voting their conscience in the primaries. This is the conclusion that I reached before I stepped into the voting booth on Super Tuesday. I needed to not worry about how the remaining primaries were going to go, not about who had the best chance of beating the other party, but only about who was best to lead America right now. I did, and I slept peacefully that night.