I would like to formally introduce myself to my readers and where my opinions come from as the president of the University of Massachusetts Republican Club and a Political Science major.
Growing up in Rochester, N.Y., I was raised in a stable suburban community with few worries. I was raised in a Jewish home that had historically voted Democrat before Bush’s second term. While I grew up with left-leaning social views on subjects such as gay rights, abortion rights and minority rights, I had also been raised with right-leaning views on national security and economic issues and so identifying with a political party was becoming a challenge.
Then began my next chapter in life: UMass, where my thoughts on life and my political views were being challenged by a dominant liberal community.
Some of my views were strengthened and reaffirmed, while others became much fuzzier and difficult to wrap my head around.
Hoping to align one’s personal views completely with a party’s platform is often impossible. Blindly voting for a party due to some nostalgic habit rather than seeing the candidates through a lens that reflects the current status of national and international affairs is naïve.
Prioritizing one’s issues is the way I have decided who I will vote for in November.
Recently, my cousin and a friend attended a Republican rally at Emory University. Knowing he was gay, she asked him why he felt positively towards a party that historically has not been welcoming to the gay rights agenda.
Her friend responded, “I may not agree with the Republicans on that issue, but I share their agenda regarding the economy and foreign policy. If we don’t get our foreign policy right, there won’t be a world left to care about my gay rights.”
When picking a candidate to vote for this election, do not take into account the political party they are affiliated with. Look at the platform they have presented, and how you rank your views vis-à-vis their views.
If that choice is President Barack Obama, for whatever reason, then I probably won’t have a job when I graduate, but at least you voted based on your own morals and thoughts, not because you just always support the same political party.
If that choice happens to be Mitt Romney, then you may have prioritized the issues like I have this coming election.
When I look to our future, I find our $16 trillion growing debt, unstable policy in the Middle East, lack of concern for maintaining Social Security and the abysmal creation that is “Obamacare,” to be how I rank some of the issues facing us.
When spending time with my grandfather this summer, he not only agreed with the idea of prioritizing the issues, but he stressed that some issues we can always “do over” while others will leave a permanent mark on human history. Whether Iran decides to use nuclear weapons against the United States and Israel is one of those “non-do-over” decisions.
Whether the U.S. decides to leave Afghanistan completely so Al-Qaeda can return to re-establish terror camps that target the West is also a “non-do-over” issue.
Whether the Arab Springs in the Middle East will result in democratic governments or just be replaced by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood is also a “non-do-over” situation. A result of this particular situation has put a 32-year peace agreement with Israel and Egypt in jeopardy and allowed terror camps to spring up in the Sinai desert.
On Sept. 11, 2012, Libyan Islamist terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo was also breached, by Islamists who were protesting “Innocence of Muslims,” a U.S.-made film about Mohammed they deemed offensive.
In an online statement, the U.S. Embassy put out a statement that “condemned the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” That our administration chose to apologize for offending anyone’s feelings before it condemned an act of war is despicable, and may I add, not a “do-over” event.
How the world views the United States now and forever is based on decisions and statements our president makes.
So what do I consider issues that are “do-over” issues?
An issue such as gay marriage, which understandably is very important to many voters, is something that can be changed through Congress, and ultimately is determined on a state by state basis.
As important as health care is to all our citizens, I truly believe that the world’s security is a more pressing issue that cannot be fixed at a later date. For all its flaws, the U.S. healthcare system is still one of the best in the world. No one is denied treatment at a hospital and the latest technology is in place at the majority of centers.
Women’s reproductive rights are also an important issue to us all. And although both political parties seem to be at opposite ends of a compromise, there are Democrats who are pro-life, Republicans who are pro-choice and a Supreme Court Ruling (Roe vs. Wade) since 1973 that struck down state laws that made abortions illegal.
As a last note, while casting your vote this coming election, please consider all of the issues, not just the ones that the media wants you to focus on.
Be an independent thinker, one who does not listen to the biased news of the day but one that investigates the issues that matter to them from several different sources.
Your thoughts on an issue should not come easily, but rather you should struggle to find what feels right.
David Kaufman is the president of the UMass Republican Club. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.