Don’t be fooled by emotional appeals

Presidential candidates are hoping for votes by focusing on emotional issues.

Melanie Williams

Whether we like it or not, our democracy is working within a two-party system. We have the option to vote either for a conservative candidate or a liberal candidate, and any other potential hopefuls amount to a wasted vote — there’s no way they could compete.

Given this, voters are already required to divide along party lines. Additionally, current presidential candidates, especially those vying for the conservative ticket, have been making excessively severe attempts to further divide voters over issues that may or may not correlate with the lines drawn by parties’ differences.

Mitt Romney has accused President Barack Obama’s administration of class warfare. Rick Santorum has attempted to rile voters by calling the upcoming primary a battle between the secular and the religious. Ron Paul’s libertarian aesthetic puts him at odds with any perceptions of socialism in the current administration, emphasizing a battle between the public and private sectors. Despite small interpersonal debates over affiliations, past politics and current policy ideals, all of the candidates agree that these supposed battles exist.

So is the ever-nearing presidential election really a matter of warfare between the rich and the impoverished? Christians and atheists? Advocates for accessible public services and private sector defenders? Is it none or all of the above?

Maybe these aren’t the questions we should be asking.

While there’s truth to the existence of a conservative upper class, a religious right and a sector of liberals hoping for the downfall of capitalism in America, they don’t come close to representing every voter who identifies with or belongs to their party. These are not universal properties of conservatives or liberals. They are merely social groups that anyone, regardless of political affiliations, can fall into. Certainly, there are wealthy, religious Democrats and poor conservatives reaping the benefits of social programs.

So, let’s move away from the ranting and rhetoric that accompany the potential Republican nominees and deal with the real elephant in the room: Calling the 2012 election class, religious or social warfare is a ploy.

In November, we won’t be voting on whether to adopt the Bible as our new constitution or throw out capitalism and become a socialist state. We will be voting for a president — and by extension a party that is built of representatives of a variety of social groups.

Announcing warfare on anything is nothing more than a political tactic, an attempt to polarize voters and an attempt to win their votes at the same time. Santorum declaring war between the secular and the religious doesn’t mean anything if we don’t let it, but it is his way of trying to secure the Christian vote.

By implying that anyone who doesn’t support his ideal of religious law in the U.S. is automatically a liberal atheist, Santorum threatens a very personal identity — a spiritual belief. It may stop voters from seeing his real ideologies because all they can remember about his platform is his Christianity, something they identify with very strongly. It’s an appeal to the weakness of the heart, not the strength of the logical mind.

We can’t keep letting politicians treat us like horses in blinders, seeing only what they direct us to see. There is much more to a political platform than a religion. There’s more to a voter than their tax bracket. We each have more than one identity and in the end we can’t let the candidates trick us into thinking that getting our vote means winning one of these imagined battles.