Don’t waste your vote: Know what you want

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (U-WIRE) — This is it — Election Day. I have only one thing to ask of every student, faculty member and citizen: Don’t make your decisions in the booth. I ask each person to take his or her right to vote seriously and to go out to the polls. But more importantly, go to the polls with an educated vote.
I understand that not everyone will follow candidates as if they are political science majors or newspaper editors. But look on the candidates’ Web sites, find a copy of the Targum’s election preview or read the literature that has been stuffed in your mailbox. Know a little about the important subjects: the budget, health care, education and Social Security. Know which issues mean the most to you, be it gun control, the economy, education or abortion. Weigh their stances on all of those issues and then make your decision.
There are lots of small races on the ballot; I don’t expect everyone to know what the county clerk candidates stand for in detail, but in a presidential race, particularly one that is this close, knowing the consequences of your vote is important.
Know that America is looking at either another four years of prosperity or an economic downturn, much like where we were before Clinton came into office.
While George W. Bush might be promising to give government back to the people, what he is doing is giving funds to the people, funds that could be used to better the public school system, the economy, Social Security and health care programs.
While Al Gore might cost us a little more, or at least not give us a bigger bonus at the end of the year, he will be setting up a system where Social Security won’t run out, where the economy will continue to support its citizens and where money will go into the public schools and teachers.
Take a look at the candidates and see where they fall on issues that are high on your personal priority list. Whatever those issues are, take the time to read and understand everyone’s opinion on it.
Know that this year more than most fundamental ideals are important, as the next president will be choosing Supreme Court justices. The difference between a pro-choice and pro-life president might have little effect on legislation, but it will have an effect on whether or not that legislation is upheld in court.
Supporting homosexual unions or not might seem like a small issue to some, but when it comes to choosing a Supreme Court justice, that question will appear before the court, as the Vermont law continues to be challenged.
Both candidates say they are for “sensible gun laws.” Gore’s sensible includes having licensing of all new gun owners. Bush’s includes having a national concealed-weapons law, allowing those who pass an instant check to apply for a concealed weapons permit.
That these issues are important to me is not an indication that they are important to you. If they are, maybe I’ve helped you out; if they aren’t, go find information about the issues you care about.
Either way, educate yourself and use that education to vote.
Today is your chance to say where this country going. Don’t let anything stop you. It is the most important thing you can do as a citizen, so take it seriously. This election is important.
Get to the polls and vote, or don’t complain when the next four years aren’t what you wanted.
Cathleen Lewis’ column originally appeared in Rutgers University Daily Targum on Nov. 6. Send comments to [email protected]