CHIARAVALLOTI: Wedged politics

Election time can be a confusing period for many people. Political ads on both sides are rife with lies and mischaracterizations of the truth, pundits perpetually agree to disagree and the politicians themselves do little to alleviate these problems.

Indeed, this year is no exception, but although some of the nature of politics may never change, there are some problems that can be fixed. One of those problems is single-issue voting.

Aside from the old standards of ignorance and apathy toward the political spectrum, there may be no greater detriment to good government and democracy than single-issue voters and the politicians that push single issue campaigns.

Politics in America – and across the world — is a vastly complicated and diverse process. There are issues of economics, morality, liberty, justice and reason all tied to what politicians should be doing to serve the people.

When people, or candidates, cast this truth aside and vote or campaign on a single issue, we are left with incomplete governance. Naturally, both parties are guilty.

This year, the Republicans want the “issue” to be the booming economy and how the government is going to keep us safe from the terrorist boogeymen. The Democrats want to make the “issue” the ugliness of the Iraq war and the corruption on Capitol Hill.

It may be that both parties think most Americans aren’t smart enough to grasp a full political platform, even if it was presented to them. It may be that they think Americans couldn’t understand the issues, and therefore should only present wedge issues like gay rights, abortion and war. I suspect, however, that jumping on single issues is a means of disguising their lack of a solid platform.

The Democratic and Republican parties have complete platforms, and if you sift their Web sites long enough, you can find them. However, once you find them, you discover a lot of unrealistic objectives, unpopular goals and otherwise unsavory partisan drivel that isn’t really fit to be called a platform. Hence, the single-issue voter is played to.

It may not be practical to expect the parties as they stand today to change, so the people need to. For the sake of your country, don’t go out and vote on single issues, ignoring the rest of what that party does.

It makes no sense to go out and vote Republican if you are against abortion, but agree with the Democrats on most of the issues. Nor does it make sense to vote Democrat because you are in a union, if everything else you believe in is represented by the Republicans. Yet it happens every election.

Sometimes, it is even more ambiguous. People don’t bother to learn anything about the candidates for whom they are voting, other than where they stand on, for example, gay marriage. If the only thing in politics you care about is whether gays can be married, the only thing you deserve is pity. Similarly, there will be people who go out and vote Democrat because of what Mark Foley did in Congress, just as there were people who voted Republican in 2000 because of Bill Clinton’s sex scandal. In order for democracy to thrive, people need to be less short-sighted than this.

Everyone has issues they feel more strongly about than others. For some, taxation drives their votes. For others, it is security, immigration or education. These are all causes worthy of your attention, and you should encourage the candidates you support to represent your interests. It is also important to encourage them to represent all of the issues as well. It is too late to change the candidates for this election, but we have another one coming in two years.

During these elections, you can make your voice go much further simply by endorsing a candidate who stands with you, in the best interests of all Americans and not one whom you agree with on one or two divisive issues that may never be solved. Don’t let politicians get away with pandering to single-issue voters – you are smarter than that, and deserve more out of your democracy.

Nathan Chiaravalloti is a senior in political science and journalism and mass communication from Davenport.