Grissom: Focus on the issues, not party identity


Photo: Yue Wu/Iowa State Daily

Jay Grey votes at Hawthorn on Tuesday. Grey thinks it’s a pivotal election in determining future of legislation.

Megan Grissom

On my 18th birthday, my father took

me to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my driver’s

license. Amongst the privileges granted to me on the day I became a

legal adult, including the elimination of my curfew, was one

promised to me in the 15th Amendment to the Constitution: the right

to vote.

When registering to vote, people

more often than not will glance over the rarely-heard-of third

parties, such as the Constitution, Green and Libertarian parties,

and make a check mark in front of either the Republican or

Democratic Party. The choice is usually an easy one based on a

person’s upbringing, whether they chose to join their parents’

party or rebel against it. Regardless, it seems as though once the

box is checked and the form is signed, a person’s voting future is

sealed, and they will vote for their decided party in every

election they ever chose to participate in. There is no need to

really examine a politician’s stances because

you must automatically fly on the right or left wing on all

issues at hand.

This could be ideal, making

candidate selection very easy, but I believe it’s safe to say that

not everybody sees every issue as equal. I, for example, prioritize

energy, environmental issues, education and the war in Iraq. But

someone else may not see conservation as an important issue but be

very devoted to whether or not abortion is legal or illegal. And

it’s likely that I and the person in my hypothetical example will

not find all of our ideals in one party. Some of our issues may

lean right and some may lean left. In this case, which party should

we side with? The answer is neither.

Unwavering devotion to either

political party has caused conflict in our country since Whig was

considered a major party. We celebrate when our party dominates the

House and get bitter when they do not. We insult the opposing party

and blame all our nation’s problems on its actions. The opposite

party is always ignorant, stupid and incompetent. And, because of

all this hype, elections have become more about what political

party we are affiliated with rather than what is really important:

The changes we want to see happen with a new man or woman in


Ghandi said to “be the change you

wish to see in the world.” Following his advice, we may not be able

to single-handedly end the war in Iraq or legalize gay marriage,

but we can choose a leader who wants to see the same change we


Instead of absentmindedly voting for

a person who belongs to a particular party, we should examine our

own beliefs and ask ourselves what we want to see happen, then pick

the candidate who will use his or her power to see this change

through, regardless of his or her political party. Above the

battles between the Democrats and Republicans is the common goal to

make a better America, so we as its citizens should use the issues

in need of address, not political affiliation, when exercising our

right to vote.