It’s Election Day and I know good and well that there isn’t any candidate running for public office that agrees with outlook of the world these days. If you can find a candidate for federal office running on a platform of engagement with the world based on human rights, green energy investments, comprehensive immigration reform, public education (Science! Math! Science! Math!), sticking it to China, while being fiscal responsible, then let me know. Politics isn’t black and white and I hate that people think that the political world can be divided that way. Considering it takes a considerably inflated ego to run for legislative public office, its unlikely there are any real good guys out there. All the best people I know wouldn’t have the audacity to run for politics because they prefer to actually get things done rather than just talk about the problems with sound byte solutions.
That being said, it is a fundamental right as well as responsibility to go out and vote today. Dallin H. Oaks said it better than I could:
“Then there is the matter of voting. I have been alarmed at the steady decline of voter turnout in many parts of the United States, including Utah. Voting is a fundamental right and responsibility that must not be taken for granted. Political participation can be inconvenient. It requires sacrifices of time and resources, but it is essential to our democratic society. Without substantial voter turnout, the people abrogate the great fundamental of popular sovereignty.”
Part of the sacrifice of democratic participation is taking the time to become informed about the candidates and the offices for whom we are voting. I am ashamed to admit, that I did not do my due diligence this time around. When I got to the voting booth, I realized that, although I had become informed on the legislative offices on the ballot, I had not become informed at all about the judicial candidates. Thus, I couldn’t in good conscience vote for those offices. I really dislike the idea of elected judges, because I know very few people actually take the time to learn about candidates running for judicial office. I didn’t want to perpetuate that. What I should have done was taken thirty minutes of my time (at the very least), and at least read about the background of the candidates. When I practiced law, I was in court all of the time. In New York, I practiced in front of appointed judges only, and all of them knew very well the rules of procedure and the law (I shouldn’t say all. There was one who was incredibly arbitrary and didn’t seem to practice any predictable, identifiable procedure, but he was definitely the outlier). In Washington State, judges were elected and there were substantial differences in the courtroom. Some, I highly doubt, had any basic understanding of the rules of criminal or civil procedure prior to becoming judges. That is why I should have looked at the background of the candidates, because what I want in the courtroom are judges who have had enough courtroom experience to actually understand, practice, and believe in the rules of procedure and who hold attorneys and litigants to the same standard. So today, because I didn’t take the time to review the candidates before I went to the polls, I lost my opportunity to make a vote for a well-ordered system of justice.
Also, they elect appellate court judges here in North Carolina, which truly frightens me.
Anyway, let me go back to Dallin H. Oaks. He also said the following (which I wish more LDS people would read and actually put into practice):
“We currently have an excess of ugliness and contentiousness in our communications on many political issues. I don’t need to give examples; we have all been exposed to it, and some of us have occasionally been part of it. We all bear some responsibility for the current political polarization and the stalemates that have resulted from it. We ought to tone it down. Meaningful debate and discussion about policies, programs, and procedures is essential to a democratic society. But contentiousness for the sake of division is bad for democracy. It is bad for law observance. It is bad for neighborly relations. And it is particularly destructive as an example for the rising generation, who, if not taught better, will perpetuate and magnify its ugliness and divisiveness for generations to come.”
Having been guilty of not toning it down in the past, I have tried to do better this political season. Of course, it has been easier because I am so much the more jaded than I ever have been in the past, but I am still an idealist at heart. If we want to really promote a body politic that is based on concern for each other, then it starts with how we treat each other. That is why I will not vote for a candidate that uses heated and violent rhetoric. There certainly are many of those that seem to be on the ballot in this election cycle. So, it has simplified my choices a little bit. I can’t even get to the issue of how a candidate for federal office views the situation in Southern Sudan, because I already have to disqualify one based on nasty rhetoric. It simplifies your options when you won’t vote for someone based upon that person’s nastiness, but sometimes that leaves you with no options at all. I also wouldn’t vote for someone who doesn’t believe in the value of science (or who politicizes widely accepted scientific principles and methods), which further limits the candidate pool. So that leaves me with what becomes, very apparent, options.
But, everyone should come to their own conclusions.