A few short months ago, the array of presidential candidates was dizzying. The scent of dissent was in the air, and it seemed everyone wanted their chance at the White House. Luckily for the informed voter, as time passed the sheer number of people vying for president was whittled down to a manageable few. Doubtless there are disappointed people throughout the nation whose candidate did not make it to the end of the race. However, regardless of what party you might belong to (or lack thereof), what views you support, and who your choice for president might be, the 2008 race promises to be an exciting one. The first step in that race is the primary elections.
For those of you who have had your head in the sand (or perhaps a textbook) lately, there are only a few remaining contenders for the party nominations for president. To get some basic information about these candidates, I went to the League of Women Voters website, which publishes basic, non-partisan information about presidential candidates for every election. If you would like more information than my basic summary here, go to their website, the candidates’ websites, or CNN’s website for good summaries of their views.
On the Republican side, the survivors are John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul. McCain supports a market based cap and trade system to limit emissions, make sure Iraq is stable and prosperous to end the war, propose a health care plan to address rising costs and provide universal access to care, and secure the borders.
Huckabee advocates promoting conservation and alternate energy for energy independence, ending the war in Iraq and addressing the Middle East with a regional summit, encouraging the private market sector to improve healthcare and bring down costs, strengthening the borders, and opposes amnesty and sanctuary for illegal immigrants. Paul wants to repeal federal regulations and taxes to allow alternative energy to flourish and diversify within the market, withdraw troops from Iraq ASAP with safety considerations, remove federal healthcare regulations to encourage competition and better choices, secure the borders, enforce visa rules, end welfare for illegal immigrants, and end birthright citizenship (our policy that makes anyone born in the U.S. a citizen).
For the Democrats, Hilllary Clinton and Barack Obama are still in the race. Clinton plans to cut greenhouse emissions by 80% and oil imports by 66%, end the war in Iraq while America plays a role in the peace process, give tax credits to help cut costs of health care, end discrimination by health insurance companies, strengthen borders, support family reunification, and provide a path to earned legalization. Obama proposes a market-based cap and trade system to reduce imports, increased investment in clean energy, an Iraq troop withdrawal over 16 months, U.S. work on a two-state solution for Palestine, universal health care legislation that would save the typical family $2,500 annually, strengthened border security, repaired bureaucracy, and a responsible path to citizenship.
So that’s just a really brief look at the candidates. Like I said, there are plenty of places to get more information, and I encourage you to do so!
Now I’ve just spent most of this article addressing candidates that are running under a specific party banner. Independents and undecideds, I have not forgotten you! A simple fact of our election process is that parties play a crucial role in selecting the main contenders of many races through the primary system. So, in order to actually influence the primary elections, you do, indeed, have to vote in a specific party’s primary. Sigh.
If this doesn’t sound palatable to you, or if you don’t like any of the candidates on the ticket, keep in mind that all the information about the two candidates that win (and possibly the few candidates who will later run as independents) will be relevant in November. Also remember that the president is a very influential and visible representative of our nation throughout the world—which should be enough impetus for you to at least think about voting.
However, the local primaries and elections in November are important in their own way. Although our local government officials are less visible, they are the ones who influence your life more closely on a daily basis. Issues like education, immigration, and the enforcement of the laws are issues presidents talk about a great deal. But state legislators, city council members, school board members, judges, and sheriffs that you elect in your county or state are often the people who actually make the policy that directly affects you.
Regardless of your party or non-party affiliations, November is an important election. And you really should take your head out of that textbook for a few minutes to get informed about the possibilities for the next leader of our nation—it’s much more exciting than studying, I promise!