WANT NVRD Series: Making My First Vote Count

By Mackenzie Patel

WANT Esteemed Contributor (Florida)

Seeing as I turned 18 six months ago, this upcoming presidential election is the first one my vote will be slipped into an official ballot box in November. Although most young people disregard voting as a waste of paper and time, I consider it extremely paramount to upholding the ideals and institutions of our country. I disdain politics and the pettiness of government affairs in general, yet I rather choose the corrupt officials are presiding over the law than have no choice at all. I attended Girls State in the summer of my junior year, so the inner workings of government, the tooth and nail fighting that comes along with elections, and the importance of voting were imparted to me during that patriotic, educational, and stressful week! The fascinating world of comparative politics was presented to me during high school, and that riveting subject rekindled my interest in international politics after Girls State dampened it. Having this background in politics, the upcoming presidential election was a bigger blip on my November calendar than it would’ve been otherwise—the president of the United States is the head executive, the commander of armed forces, and has direct veto powers. My opinion is only one among millions, but discounting its worth is not only damaging to my rights but also the structure of the US government. However, how is a young, innocent, and relatively unjaded person supposed to vote when the experiences of life haven’t hardened us to certain people or parties yet? I don’t hold vendettas against republicans or democrats, mostly because I haven’t been directly affected by their policies. To determine the candidate that will receive the tiny squeak of my backing, I listed several characteristic and topics I deemed important as a starting point.

Honesty, a candidate’s unwavering stance on four main issues, the style of oration, and personal background were the guidelines for systematically determining who my vote would be ferried off to. By “honesty”, I was referring to unambiguous stances on important political issues; I didn’t trust those snakes that change their views just to garner more votes and fame. I wanted someone with high moral character that was willing to fight for their beliefs, not change them willy-nilly once the political tides rise in another direction. Although I’m not jaded by certain parties (yet), there were four main issues that I considered integral in my voting decision: the economy/taxes, abortion, immigration, and education. If a candidate didn’t align mostly or entirely with my personal views, I scribbled out their names with annoyed disappointment. I also weighed the candidate’s personal style, their manner of dress, the way they delivered speeches, and their familial backgrounds. Were their words oily and insincere, wayward or uttered with strong conviction? YouTube was my principle aid in this, as well as the debates.

I already knew tidbits about the candidates, and to be honest, I marched into this process already stained with hints of bias and dislike. I was reluctant to vote for or even research Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush right off the bat—I’m sure they are capable politicians, but the powerful political dynasties of the Clinton and Bush name need to be quashed.  I’m sick of these familial empires having so much clout in our country; they’ve transformed into pseudo-celebrities rather than competent leaders. I support women’s rights just as much as the next female, but voting for Hillary just because she’s a woman didn’t seem like the most informed or rational decision to make. A candidate’s intelligence, truthfulness, and moral grit should be the determining factor, not their skin color or gender. That being said, I already discounted Hillary and Jeb for the reasons listed above. Where was I to look, once I brushed the most obvious candidates to the wayside?

OnTheIssues.org is a great website for narrowing down your presidential choices without dirtying your hands with black newsprint or killing your eyes with meaningless codswhallop on a candidate’s sappy rags to riches story. I wanted to know their stats, the hardcore evidence on how they voted, and their photographs to match a face to their beliefs. I also surfed the individual websites of the candidates, but they were so biased, sentimental, and poorly written that I couldn’t bear to thoroughly investigate them. However, particular statements on Donald Trump’s website stood out to me. Scrolling down his biography page, I caught sight of his former reality tv stint and was revolted. What politician would include their television gig on a presidential website? He’s not a celebrity! This unrealistic and disgusting inclusion automatically revoked Mr. Trump from my list, and he will not be receiving my vote. As an aside, I only researched candidates that had a remote chance of winning. I didn’t want to “waste” my vote on someone with no hopes of capturing the oval office. I know the major politicians are mostly deceitful and greasy, but the tricky part is choosing the one that’s least untrustworthy. I only researched Bernie Sanders for the Democrats and Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz for the Republicans, which slashed my list tenfold.

As for personal issues, I wanted my candidate to support abortions, have tighter immigration laws, delegate more resources to education, and foster a more conservation economy (i.e. looser taxes on rich, less social services, etc). Accessibility of higher education was definitely forefront on my list because I have personally dealt with injustices in this area. Although I was admitted to Duke University, I was unable to attend because financial aid was only disbursed to those with paltry income and the right racial background. Being staunchly middle class and caught in between being extremely poor and extremely rich, I was denied any financial aid. $67,000 a year was callously demanded of me, and though I had the grades to get in, pure economics prevented me from attending my dream school. I wanted my candidate to reduce the astronomical costs for all, whether you were the richest person alive or barely had two pennies to rub together.

After determining what exactly I was basing my decisions on, I next talked to family member and friends who had similar views to me. What did I really know about domestic and international politics? I was only armed with a laptop and minimal life experiences! My sister, father, and mother lent me advice, while I also attempted to stay neutral as well. In the end, I discovered that I wasn’t particularly fond of any of the candidates; there was always one issue or some little gripe I had for each individual. For example, Bernie Sanders supports gun rights and higher taxes for the rich, but he is also enthusiastic about climate change and education. Donald Trump favors strong immigration laws and lower taxes, but he’s a sandy-haired dandy that belongs with the Kardashians! I couldn’t win, so I had to compromise. However, nothing is perfect in politics, especially the people submerged in them.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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  1. My First Election To Vote In, and I Really Don’t Want To |

    […] In conclusion, this November is going to be an ugly time in American politics. Fake hair versus email shiftiness, a giant wall versus open arms to illegal immigrants. I’m usually cynical towards politics (everyone in the business is a crook), but even more so because of the candidates I’m forced to vote for. What happened to moderate candidates without deception? Where did the national support for candidates such as FDR and Lincoln go? Is that era of competency and voter faith dead? Maybe not in the future, but the grave is already dug for 2016. Read my earlier article, a more upbeat and naïve one, on the 2016 election here. […]

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