Erin Springer is a liberal studies senior and a Mustang News guest columnist. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints and editorial content of Mustang News.
Shockingly, as the deadline for my senior project approaches and my desperate procrastination attempts increase, my interest in the presidential primaries also increases. In fact, maybe we’ve all run out of Netflix shows to binge watch instead of writing papers, because I’ve been finding myself discussing presidential candidates with people who I am more used to discussing appropriate song choices (it’s always “Get Buck in Here,” what don’t people get?).
For those of you whose brains aren’t yet accustomed to my permanent state of ingenious wit, I’ll spell out right now that I’m kidding. I am well aware presidential elections are important and not just procrastination tools (read: please don’t tweet angry things at me). With that said, what I wasn’t joking about is this newfound abundance of political conversations (okay, arguments) in unexpected places and with unexpected people. First and foremost, I am sincerely happy about it. I’m glad people whose political lives were mostly dormant before are suddenly mentioning articles they read as they stand next to the Jungle Jui — I mean, fruit punch.
Some people might discourage these political newbies and criticize them for being just that — new. I disagree. There is nothing wrong with deciding to get more politically involved, and there is a learning curve in politics, just like everything else. If there is ever a time for encouraging your fellow classmates to find their political passions and expand on them, it is now, when the California primary is approaching. Political pledg — I mean, new members — are not the problem. Stop hazing them. Hazing is wrong.
With that being said, there is one problem I have found endlessly frustrating with these new conversations and it goes something like this:
My opposition: “I support (Cersei Lannister).”
Me: “Why is that?”
My opposition: “I dislike (Ned Stark).”
Me: “Oh okay. What do you like about (Lannister)? How do you feel about that whole (incest) scandal?”
My opposition: “Sry G2G ttyl gn <3333”
This doesn’t happen every time, but it is becoming more and more common in my experience. People are telling me they dislike a candidate, but they can’t tell me why they are supporting another. When they do, the conversations are riveting; fireworks go off, we are handed microphones and crowds gather.
But sadly, more often than not, the former occurs and I am left without a throat to shamelessly shove my values down, masked as carefully crafted logical arguments (kidding again — kind of). Once again, I want to be clear, I am still happy this person cares about politics enough to bring the subject up. I just think that their energy is misdirected, and that is disheartening.
So, right here in this article, with my real name printed right above these words, I am going to break the No. 1 rule of rational political discussions. I am going to tell you who to vote for. God, I’m so brave.
In no particular order, vote for:
#1: The candidate whose stances on the issues line up with yours.
I SAID WHAT?! Radical, I know. If you are telling me you are supporting a candidate, make sure you know their stances on the issues. Read their writing. Listen to them talk. I strongly encourage you all right now, no matter what you think you already know, to at least go to each candidate’s websites and read their policies thoroughly. Stop listening to news sources and articles that the guy who ghosted you last month shared on Facebook. Read candidates’ stances yourself. Have a ready answer when people ask you what ideas you specifically support. There are many websites that let you take quizzes and match you with the candidate who you have the most in common with, just make sure the websites are accurate.
#2: The candidate who prioritizes the issues that are most important to you.
Maybe the candidates have similar opinions that you agree with. Maybe the candidates have different opinions and you disagree with all of them. What issues do those candidates prioritize? What issues do they make a point to bring up again and again and again? Focus on their stances on those issues, and how you feel about supporting those stances.
#3: The candidate who represents America the way you want it to be represented.
Their name will forever be embedded in the list of presidents elementary school students have to memorize for their test. Their name will be on the list of presidents ranked best to worst. Their name will be in the headlines of not just American newspapers, but newspapers all over the world. Whose name will you be proud to see in these situations? Whose name are you willing to hear your future children or grandchildren say was their “favorite president”?
And now I’m going to break more rules and tell you how to vote:
#1 Ask yourself which historical figures you admire and why.
Wasn’t the introduction of every history class you’ve had a discussion about why history is important? Didn’t that discussion always somehow come down to, “We need to study the past to learn from mistakes and create a better future.” Okay, so do that. Who does your candidate of choice remind you of? Let me clarify — not their looks, their demographics or any sort of habits they might have. Whose historical ideologies and stances do your candidate’s ideologies and stances remind you of? How have those people stood the test of time?
#2 Become critical of everything you hear.
No more of this “my uncle’s friend’s mom’s neighbor told me” crap. That may have worked when you gossiped about relationship statuses, but it does not work for the elections. Check the sources, always. Really think about what is being said and why it is being said.
#3 Be willing to defend your decision.
The person you vote to lead our country should not be something you are ashamed of. Be willing to tell people who it is, and why. Nothing changes unless it is commonly argued about, so for goodness sake, argue away! But argue with the goal of finding the best possible solution, and not with the goal of being right. And argue with people who share that same goal.
Finally, I’ll do something socially acceptable, and tell you why you should vote:
#1 Because you wouldn’t throw your trash on the ground.
If you still throw your trash on the ground, you can stop reading. You’re hopeless. For the non-psychopaths out there, why do you make the decision to take your lazy ass all the way to the trash can across the street and throw away your frozen yogurt cup, when you won’t even get up to change the channel? Will one cup on the ground really make a difference? Whatever your answer, just apply it to voting. For most of you, I think this answer comes down to your fifth grade self being told by some sort of authority figure: “If everyone thought like that…”
#2 Because you care about the issues, not because you care about who will win.
Don’t vote for someone or not vote for someone just because you think the outcome of the election is already decided. If your values align with a candidate who doesn’t have a shot in hell, still vote for them. If your values align with a candidate who is already writing their inauguration speech, still vote for them. Vote for the person you will be proud of voting for. That is real democracy, and that is getting your voice heard. If only 5 percent of people vote for them, be proud to be a part of that minority. If 95 percent of people vote for them, be proud to be a part of that majority.
The California primaries are June 7. National elections are November 8. Get to procrastinating and start researching some policies!