A Voter's Guide for the 2016 Presidential Election

Overall results of survey. Experiment run by Chandler Williams '17.

Overall results of survey. Experiment run by Chandler Williams '17.

As the moment of truth is only weeks away, it’s important for voters to have at least a decent sense of what they are actually voting for. There are many Americans who are going to vote for Trump just because he’s a multi-billionaire business man, and there are others who are going to vote for Hillary simply because she is a woman. As some of us at Moeller are arriving at the ripe age of 18, it is important to realize that the country needs to base their vote primarily on facts, not subjectivity. 

I took a survey of 20 high school students, half of which were female and the other half male, asking them who they would vote for. The results show 70% would vote for Donald Trump while 30% would vote for Hillary Clinton. However, right now, it’s not who they vote for that matters but their reasoning behind it. Some participants voted for Trump because “he doesn’t have as much to gain becoming President as Hillary does.” Others supported him simply because he’s the "lesser of two evils". However, there were also individuals that claimed Hillary is the lesser of two evils and that she would be able to handle the job best since she has been a politician for years. And of course, there are people who vote simply with the reasoning of “I’m a Republican” or “I’m a Democrat,” as if politics is completely a black-and-white system with no grey area.

From the above survey, 40% of participants based their vote on subjectivity and rumors on social media. Though opinions and emotion shouldn’t be entirely removed from the voting process, they should not serve as a foundation. As a result, this article serves as a fundamental guide for voters to sensibly contribute to this national event.

Before one investigates the personal values of each player in the game, they must first understand the game itself. In short, the Republican Party tends to be more conservative while the Democratic Party is more liberal.

Conservative vs. Liberal

To be conservative is to be adherent to “traditional practices in politics and society.” There are many people who argue this view therefore supports racism and male-supremacy, since these were both customary mentalities until change came forth. However, this is clearly not the case and an exaggeration of the definition. Conservatives and Republicans tend to believe the people should have more of a say than the government over one’s life.

To be liberal is to believe that the “government should be active in supporting social and political change.” Democrats and liberals believe more power should be within the government rather than the citizens. There are also many people who argue Democrats promote Socialism – a political system where the government owns and controls the means of production. However, this is also an exaggeration of the definition.

The Republican Party

Donald Trump, 2016 Republican Nominee. Photo from  Photos for Class .

Donald Trump, 2016 Republican Nominee. Photo from Photos for Class.

The Republican Party’s core beliefs revolve around the concept that each individual should be responsible for him/herself. This group believes the government’s activity should be limited, only intervening when society is failing to function. Republicans uphold the ideology that the government’s only role should be to maintain equality.

The Democratic Party

The Democratic Party’s primary values seem to be the polar opposite--the government is responsible for running and overseeing society at a federal level. This party claims to support the idea of providing everyone with fairness. Most people think “equality” and “fairness” are synonyms and are therefore interchangeable. However, this is not reality. 

Hillary Clinton, 2016 Democratic nominee. Photo from  Photos for Class .

Hillary Clinton, 2016 Democratic nominee. Photo from Photos for Class.

Equality vs. Fairness

Suppose there are three starving individuals surrounding a box of ten chicken strips. One person is underweight, another is overweight, and the last is average. This situation can go one of two ways.

 The first way: the situation is solved through the concept of equality. As a result, each person is provided with the same amount of chicken.

The second way: the situation is dealt through the idea of fairness. Therefore, circumstance is taken into account; this means the overweight person would receive the least amount of chicken, while the underweight receives the most, and the average-weight individual receives the average between the two.

 Left up to Republicans, the situation would be run in the first example while Democrats would play it similarly to the latter. However, Republicans often criticize their opponents because they believe equality is achieved not through equal possessions, but through equal opportunity to gain possessions; upholding the conservative concept of self-government. On the flip-side, Democrats disapprove of this conservative ideal because just as completely and evenly dividing ten chicken pieces by three is impossible, instilling equality nationwide is also impossible.

The Facts

Photo from  Photos for Class .

Photo from Photos for Class.

The best way to compose a voter’s guide is to present national issues as well as each candidate’s stance regarding each topic. With that basic information, the voter is left to decide what to do next with it. Sometimes a citizen casts their vote for a candidate because they are in agreement with most issues more than the opponent. Other times, one votes for a candidate because they are in agreement on what they feel is the most important issue. Nonetheless, the voter should take the facts--the objectivity–into consideration when filling their ballot.

  • Interpretation of the Constitution
    • Trump: supports appointing Supreme Court judges who interpret the Constitution exactly as it was written
    • Clinton: believes there should be a variety of interpretations as a means of combating “groupthink."
  • Affordable Care Act
    • Trump: making a strong effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare
    • Clinton: resisting Trump's movement
  • Abortion
    • Trump: believes it is never okay except in the circumstances of rape, incest, or health
    • Clinton: supports it up to the eighth month of pregnancy
  • Planned Parenthood
    • Trump: opposes the idea of giving tax dollars to Planned Parenthood
    • Clinton: plans on continuing this if she is President
  • Taxes
    • Trump: urging to repeal estate tax, aka death tax
    • Clinton: plans on continuing this if she is President 
  • Free Speech
    • Trump: supports political and religious free speech
    • Clinton: believes there should be political speech and activity restrictions for churches and tax-exempt nonprofit organizations

It can be difficult to refrain from getting sucked into the excess drama constantly involved with politics. But the drama tends to cloud over and distract people from what is factual. According to the survey, it showed 40% of the individuals used subjectivity to decide their vote. Again, subjectivity shouldn't be completely ignored, but it shouldn't be the primary reason as to who one votes for. There will always be some percentage of voters who will not use facts as a basis of their vote, but I believe it is our job as intelligent beings to get that 40% down to an absolute minimum. 

Chandler Williams '17