Being Optimistic with Elections
by Tamara Martfeld
Based on e-mail addresses, most of my subscribers seem to be in the United States which is holding elections in a few weeks. I am not going to tell you who or what to vote for. I am assuming that you are an intelligent citizen who will do your homework and vote your conscious.
I have noticed within conversations that I have had or have overheard that many voters are thinking that there will be catastrophe if the vote on a specific issue or elected office does not go their way, and the people stating these feelings are on both sides of the issue or opposite sides of for whom to vote. Truthfully, this is not the case.
Remember that any vote can be over-turned. If an issue wins it can be overturned in court if it is unconstitutional. Whether an issue wins or looses it can become a proposition in a future election, either to try again or to overturn the previous vote. Hopefully the voters will be more informed in the next election. If you really cannot live with the election results over an issue, you are free to move to a place which does not have the law you don’t like. People in other countries do not have these options.
If a person with whom you do not agree with wins the election, remember that many offices have term limits. For example, for the office of president you only have to put up the candidate you do not like for a maximum of 8 years. If the polls are anything to go by, in this election approximately half of the population will have a president they do not want in office regardless of who wins. I know that there are unfortunately still some offices without term limits, and I keep hoping that they will get term limits in the future. Even if a person of the same party gets elected to those offices, at least it would be a different person with different ideas.
The best thing you can do is be diligent in your homework and vote. In the last elections in my state many votes were so close that the results were not known for a few weeks as they finished counting the ballots, and some contests were recounted before becoming official simply because they were so close. Your vote counts.
When doing the homework I strongly suggest looking at history. For example, a recent vote in California was to decide whether to have a majority vote for the annual budget with penalties if the budget was not on time. If one looked at the history, they would have seen that the individual Republican and the Democrat budgets in the past were always bad for the state and only became better through compromise. They would have also seen the games the politicians of both parties had played over the years to benefit themselves. The people voted in favor of the measure. Why were they so surprised that the “balanced budgets” passed in the two years since were “on time” and full of smoke and mirrors? No one who ever ran a household would have considered the budgets balanced. The concept was good, but the meat needed in the proposition, such as defining what “balanced” meant, was not there. Individuals voted on the summary instead of the text of the proposition, on emotion instead of doing the homework. Many who voted for the proposition have stated that they did not know the specifics, yet the specifics were sent to every voter.
When it comes to a candidate too many people listen only to what the opponent states about him or her. Few take the political and media campaigns with a grain of salt and actually look at the history of the person running. For example, if the person is in a leadership position, has the person fulfilled promises made or at least made an effort to do so? If in a governor or president position where there are multiple arms of the government, did he or she respect the boundaries of his or her position or try to perform the duties of the other branches of the government. If a person is stating that a specific item will be accomplished, does that person’s history indicate that the promise has any chance of happening? What are the values of the person? For example, in the last presidential election I was essentially down to a coin toss – I did not favor either candidate over the other. My decision was based on what the individuals had submitted as legislation over the past year. The legislation showed me that one person had values significantly different than mine, and I voted accordingly. What are your own values as compared to the available candidates? Is the person’s campaign telling you what he or she plans to do, or is it saying “vote for me because the other candidate did or said “X””? Unless all candidates are doing this, why vote for a candidate who won’t tell you what he or she plans for you?
In any case, don’t get discouraged if the election does not go your way on a candidate or issue. Again, it can be changed and in many cases there are term limits. If an issue which is really bad wins, people generally see what it is doing and stop it. If an elected official is bad recall elections can happen or, in some cases, the person can be impeached. Everything occurs in cycles, and eventually candidates and issues which reflect your values will win.
Do your homework and vote, then smile when the election is over. Smile because you will not have to listen to political ads for a while, because your candidate and issues won, and/or because anything and anyone you wanted which lost can be overturned or may only need to be suffered through for a few years.
PS: Do you want something to laugh at on election night? I have worked the elections in my county. Frequently the news reporters are giving the results of the elections at 8 PM when the polls close. The ballots generally do not arrive for processing until 9 PM! Also, at the end of the night there are many ballots which have not yet been processed which are locked up for processing over the next month. Remember that anything reported on election night is based on absentee ballots if they have been counted, exit polls, and a sampling of the ballots counted so far. Actual results are frequently not known for a month. In the case of president, the electoral college can overturn the “popular” vote. Remember this as the reporters provide the winners with confidence. Remember the old photograph of the newspaper reporting that Dewey won the election which put Truman into office.