Texas Voter, Do You Know What You’re Voting For?
By: Piper Meeks, Contributor
“Elections belong to the people. It is their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” — Abraham Lincoln
Today many Texans will take advantage of one of our most fundamental constitutional rights by casting their ballots early for the November 2012 Election – an opportunity that grants us the ability to voice our individual opinions on who would be best fit to govern our country. Election Day is just right around the corner and people have begun to show support for candidates in a variety of ways; however, browsing through my Facebook newsfeed and reading what some people have to say has made me realize that often what we consider to be our opinions are nothing more than the opinions of others, which is clearly as a result of the lack of knowledge of government policies displayed among the people of Texas. I was lucky enough to be raised in an environment that allowed me to embrace my individuality; however, that does not mean I was necessarily taught the difference between a Republican and a Democrat or any other political parties (yes, others exist). That being said, I wasn’t particularly interested in politics until I started college and realized that I should be interested in politics. I didn’t realize, though, that I was readily equipped to listen to and learn the facts of all viewpoints objectively as a result of growing up around people that refrained from the common inculcation of personal and political beliefs. Unfortunately, the fact is that many people are not as encouraged to go against the grain and therefore often seem to be fueled by what others think they should believe when it comes to politics.
Samuel Adams once said: “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable.” Listening to political debate among my friends and family throughout the past few years, I have learned that people (myself included at one point) tend to believe what they think they should believe, not necessarily what applies to them directly as individuals or members of society. In other words, people listen to the political beliefs and opinions of their parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, etc. when forming their own beliefs, which often results in a tainted and therefore less accurate perception of how government policies truly affect them. However, in regards to politics, it’s crucial to remember that just because you hold different or opposing views than the most respected or admired people in your life, it doesn’t mean you still can’t respect their views – it just means you have your own. With over 300 million people in the United States, 25 million residing here in Texas, it is impossible that everyone can agree on everything, and that’s why it’s so important that individuals establish their own ground yet agree to disagree with those that don’t hold the same viewpoints. Just because your 100-year-old grandfather is a staunch Republican or your best friend is a Democrat, it doesn’t mean your beliefs have to match up. This is the beauty of our country; we have the right to our own opinions, beliefs, and values – so why, then, would we do anything other than embrace such a liberty?
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone claim to be left or right-sided, yet stand firm on one position that’s completely contradicting to their claims. This is not in the least bit uncommon and is unfortunately a result of a lack of knowledge on the subject. In fact, before taking the time to be educated on politics and forming my own opinion thereafter, I was guilty of the same thing. It’s disheartening for me to think that some people are going through life relying solely on preconceived beliefs that others have instilled in them throughout their years; but it’s almost frightening to think that these instilled beliefs will take part in determining our next president and many more presidents in the years to come.
With all of the above being said, I thought today may be the perfect opportunity for us all to have a little Political Science 101 review in order to better analyze our own political ideologies and also to brush up on the political world and how the government has an impact on our daily lives as Texans and Americans. Not only do the following quizzes provide very detailed results, they are also very informative on the current political system and the political ideologies that embody it. Certainly some of you are thinking that you are sure of what these quizzes will show you, just as I thought before I took them. Much to my surprise, however, I took these three quizzes and came up with the same result for each of them – a result that I most definitely never saw coming.
HINT: For the most accurate results, be sure you know exactly what the question is asking. Don’t respond with what you think your dad would respond with just because you don’t understand the question or answer choices. Take advantage of the vast amount of information that’s available right at your fingertips: Google it (just make sure you’re searching for facts, not opinions)!