See, what concerns me isn't really the lack of enthusiasm in either candidate. What's concerning is the apathy, particularly in this election, points to a general lack of caring or understanding for the situation we find ourselves in. Normally, in an election between two candidates with perhaps a slight ideological difference in their approach to handling the government, the apathy makes sense. As South Park so eloquently put it, the choice is between a turd sandwich and a giant douche. I'm not going to repeat the importance of voting because it's been beaten to death. What I am going to point out, however, is why THIS election is the most important election of a generation and how it's different from every election since 1980, and possibly even before that.
This election is more than just the presidency. This election presents two clear and widely distinct ideological differences. The choice is which path we want the country to follow. It's commonly brought up that our political discourse as of late has been 'extremely polarized'. And it's true. And while many people bring it up as a way to blame one side or the other, they miss the point that it's a natural occurrence. Call it my (made up on the spot) law of political equilibrium. If there's a widely perceived tendency of the country and/or government drifting too far one direction from center, there's going to be an equally strong opposite force to counter that drift. It's polarizing because it's the natural reaction to getting our country back on track. Thus, if the country is so polarized politically right now, this should be a huge warning sign that our country is at an ideological crossroads.
On one side, we have the Leftist path. Do we want a bigger more "progressive" and "evolved" (I use these as terms leftists would use themselves - debating their merits is worthy of another article in itself) government that grows in power to take care of all our needs and solves all our social problems for us? In order to do so would require we relinquish a significant portion of the individual liberties we have today so the government could do what they think is best for us.
On the other side, we have the libertarian/conservative path. Do we want a limited government and more personal liberty? Do we want less government intervention in our lives allowing us to make the choices and also reap the fruits of our labor? In order to do so would require we become more accountable for our own well being and possibly give up some of the "freebies" the government has given us. It also means we'd be more responsible for ourselves than we are now.
Ideological crossroads aside, this is what's at stake:
- Up to 3 Supreme Court judges could be retiring in the next 4 years. And while it's noble to believe that a president will pick someone objective and fair, it's also naive. Liberal appoint liberals and conservatives appoint conservatives. In short, whose president will most likely determine which way the Supreme will lean for years, if not decades, to come.
- Our healthcare system. I've written extensively about Obamacare and how bad it is for this country. While I agree healthcare reform is necessary, Obamacare is not the answer. I believe it will make things worse. The problem with Obamacare is that once it's fully implemented, repealing it will be significantly harder. It must be done in 2013.
- A politically unconstrained leftist president Without a re-election to worry about, Barack Obama is free to pursue whatever policies he wants. And if his record of executives orders and use of bureaucratic agency regulations to bypass congress and the constitution, in a term where he was constrained, is any indication, we can expect far more and worse.
- Our economy. While those on the left conveniently like to blame Bush three and a half years after he left office, the fact of the matter is the economy has tanked on Obama's watch. If the economic ploys and policies he enacted to right the economy are again an indication, we'll just be making things significantly worse.
It's no secret which side I'm on or which side I'm stumping for. And while I'm in a battle to get people to see my side and turn this country away from its leftist path, I admittedly have a bit of contempt for those that are apathetic, especially when so much is at stake. If there's ever a time to choose a side and get involved, this election is it. Do not let people fool you into believing this is just "alarmist fatalism". Remember, our political polarization is a sign of how important this election is, and as such, there's no room for those to sit on the fence in the middle. Do your (thorough) research, pick a side and let this election's turnout be a greater representation of what this country wants.