Op-Ed: Person vs. Party or Politics 101

BY SHEILA GILMORE

The primary elections in Van Horn are fast approaching.  Indeed, the deadline to register to vote if you want to cast a ballot in March is Feb. 3.  If you haven’t voted for a while, this is the time to rethink your complacency and plan to vote this time around.

Over the last several weeks in my discussions with others about politics, I have heard the mantra, “I vote for the person, not the party!” often repeated.   Whereas I agree that one must look at the character and values of candidates to make an informed choice, voting the “person not the party” is an impossibility – especially in a Primary election.
 
It’s a little like asking for a cappuccino without the espresso or asking for ice cream without the cream.

Politicians and their party affiliation are fairly inseparable.  When you vote for a candidate, you don’t just vote for a person – you also vote for the ideals that they espouse.

In a primary election, one must choose a party first, because each party has its own ballot.  Even in a general election, where all the candidates from all parties are listed on one ballot, without knowing something about the values (platforms) of the parties, one could not possibly make an informed choice on candidates without extensive research on each individual.  

Then, after researching the individuals, one would still have to consider why each chose to run for election standing on the platform (or the party’s values) that they chose.  No matter how you look at it, party affiliation says something about the candidate’s character and how he or she will represent constituents.

Although our political parties have their flaws (and sometimes big ones), they still serve a very important purpose:  they allow the average voter to participate in the electoral process through voting, presenting resolutions at local conventions, campaigning and even running for election themselves.  Without political parties, it would be almost impossible for the average citizen to participate, even in voting.  Parties also provide a way for the voter to determine the best candidate based on a set of values and standards that the candidate adopts rather than relying on personal knowledge of candidates.


I have also heard this often repeated: “I’m a ____ because our family has always been____.”  Since the average citizen can contribute resolutions to the party platform every two years, the party values change some every two years.  
The Party that your grandfather defended 20 years ago is probably not the same one that it is today.  Let’s think for ourselves and not base our choices on what has “always” been. 

Choosing which party to “agree” with is not as daunting as it may sound if you are willing to do a little reading and research.  In fact, I’ve done some of it for you.
In our United States, there are two main parties — Democratic and Republican.  There are others (Green, Independent, Libertarian, etc.), but I am only going to address these main two.  I see them a little like two football leagues.

 The primary election is like the playoffs and the general election is like the Super Bowl.   Each league must have a winner before those two winners can face each other to determine the ultimate winner.  For each league to have a winner, we must each choose a league (party) in which to play — before we can choose a team (candidate) to play (vote) on.

There are many issues which should be of interest to all Parties and many bipartisan and non-partisan issues are being debated in Congress.  However, there are several issues in which the Democratic and Republican Parties take completely opposite stands.  Two of those issues are Sanctity of Life and American Soverignty.

Sanctity of Life.  Democrats call this issue “Pro-Choice”.  Their stance is that it is a woman’s right to do whatever she wants with her body.  As a result, the media has painted this as a woman’s rights issue.  They have asserted that a woman should have the right to an abortion on demand — whether it is for gender reasons, suspected disability, rape, wrong timing, or whatever reason she decides.  

Any legislation that limits “abortion on demand” is aggressively opposed, even if it is for safety or decency.  The “Pro-Choice” title, therefore, is not realistically descriptive.  It seems that the choice they are talking about is only the choice to abort, not the choice to have a child.  Perhaps the more descriptive “Pro-Abortion” is more appropriate.  In reality, their view seems to be that one’s personal choice trumps human life.

Republicans, on the other hand, have called their stand “Pro-Life”.  They believe that the value of human life is more important than anyone’s personal choice.  Whether that human life is in the womb, or disabled, or elderly or in a coma, human life is more valuable than any “inconvenience” one might experience.  It is worth being protected.

American Sovereignty.  This issue is the one that will have the most impact on how we live our everyday lives here in America.  Our country is like no other.  We are exceptional.  No other country has a constitution like ours. Although we have been the “model” for a few other countries, no other country’s constitution is the same.  


This should be a non-partisan issue, but, like typical politicians, many have made this a partisan issue and refuse to work together.
Article VI of our Constitution states that the Constitution and any international treaties become the supreme law of our land.  In other words, any UN Treaty takes precedence over any state or federal law and those laws must be rewritten to reflect the tenants of the Treaty that has been ratified.  Other countries do not have such an Article.  Other countries can pick and choose what parts of a treaty they allow to become the law of their lands.

Treaties involving international trade, conduct on the high seas or military alliances are appropriately given the place of Supreme Law of the land.  But what about Treaties that dictate how American families raise, care for or educate their own children?  Shouldn’t this be decided by Americans?  What about treaties that impose restrictions on an American’s right to bear arms? Or a family’s right to practice their own religion in their own community?  Should these issues be decided by bureaucrats from China, or India, or Afghanistan?


Democrats have been trying to get some of these United Nations Treaties passed through Congress at almost any cost for the last couple of years.  Even when informed by recognized constitutional lawyers and experts, many of these members of Congress refuse to see the danger that they pose to American sovereignty.  In particular, there are two that are concerning:  The UNCRPD (UN Council on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and the UNCRC (UN Council on the Rights of a Child).  

One of the many problems that they pose is that they take the “best interest” of the child (disabled or otherwise) out of the hands of their parents and put it in the hands of government bureaucrats.  In addition, these treaties will NOT change how other countries treat their children, disabled or otherwise.

Republicans, for the most part, believe that American sovereignty is essential to our country’s freedom, especially the individual freedoms of its people.  They believe that other countries should NOT dictate to our American families how to live our lives.  Additionally, America has the “Cadillac” of laws to protect the disabled; and each state has laws to protect children from abuse or neglect.  We do not need the United Nations to become our domestic enforcer.

Regardless of how you choose to vote, Democrat or Republican, you must recognize that you are not just voting for a “nice” guy.  You are also voting for a set of values and ideals.  Whether the individual candidate actually agrees with the ideals of his party or not, by aligning himself with one or the other, he is making a statement about what ideals he supports.  Every party has its flaws just like every football team.  Sometimes it may look like a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils, but every voter MUST choose.  Just be informed about the choice you are making.

Editor's Note: An opinion piece published in the Advocate does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the newspaper.