OPINION: Don’t cast your vote for an issue, cast it for a candidate


My grandmother, Ellen Marion Lawlor, absolutely refuses to vote for a candidate who takes any stance but pro-life. Neither my family nor Ellen is notoriously conservative, but every four years, Ellen is meticulous about which candidate shares her views on this one issue. As a member of the “Silent Generation” demographic, which means she was born between 1925 and 1942, Ellen is not at an age famed for being open-minded Clocking in at 85 years old, she is just as stubborn as any other constituent.

However, Ellen is not in any financial state of risk. Quite the opposite, as it is her abundant wealth that allows her to use her vote more frivolously. She has a cushion if her candidate cuts Medicaid, but not every 85-year-old has such a luxury. Those who aren’t in the 1 percent should be more conscious about which candidate their vote goes to. With the upcoming election, Social Security, Medicare and welfare reform are hot topics. The proposed changes to the current system could have our elders paying out of pocket.

While my grandmother is just one of the many adamant voters from an older generation, there are a lot of one-issue voters out there. Many of which are younger and don’t always take on abortion as their cause.

The “one-issue gene” didn’t make it to me. I don’t consider myself a “one-issue voter.” In fact, there are several issues I look to a candidate to support or reject. If I had to pick my issue, it would be the “one-issue voters” themselves.

During an elected official’s term, be it the nation’s president or your city’s mayor, he or she will be faced with a variety of issues. These issues vary in how much they directly affect our nation and its citizens. It is your responsibility as a voter to recognize the issues our nation faces and the issues important to you, and balance them on the ballot.

For example, I feel strongly about the legalization of gay marriage. If I were to choose my one issue, legalizing gay marriage would be one of the final few. However, there are other issues plaguing our nation that I accept are more pressing. Issues like women’s health care, Pell Grants  and the economy have a deadline.

I don’t mean to suggest martyrdom, but with an election only days away, it is critically important we prioritize who and what we’re voting for. My generation will have to deal with student loans and women’s issues as well as other controversies. My generation will also have to immediately deal with the consequences of decisions surrounding these issues. These decisions could devastate or enrich us beyond this presidency.  This is not the election year to restrict your voice by choosing just one issue to make or break your decision. Voting is your opportunity to ensure your voice is heard on a plethora of issues. The elected candidate doesn’t focus on one issue. Why should you?

Students born after the mid-80’s are the generation of the “Millennials.” Studies show they are the most optimistic, the most educated and the generation that loves to communicate. This is the year to do just that. It has never been easier to gather information than it is now; why wouldn’t you take full advantage of every resource and inform yourself? You might be voting for Obama. You might be voting for Romney.

It doesn’t matter, as long as you are taking responsibility as a citizen and learning everything you can to make a difference in the 2012 election. Becoming knowledgeable on a myriad of issues is probably going to be frustrating and burdensome. But you only get to vote once; use it to make your voice heard on more than one issue. When the next election comes around, you’ll be educated and ready to stretch your only vote all the way to the next generation.

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