No candidate can meet the needs of everyone, but as voters we usually hope we can select a candidate that best embodies our political beliefs. For those who are strictly left or right leaning, the choice for this year’s presidential election is clear. Like many other voters, I am having a much more difficult time determining which candidate represents my political beliefs. This is a direct result of the relationships I have with the people in my life.
My entire family is Republican with their political views focusing mainly on the economy and taxes. My parents remember President Reagan’s terms in office as being good for the country. As a child, I remember several dinner conversations about those who “worked the system”–able bodied adults who collected welfare instead of earning their living through labor–and how my family was supporting those people by working and paying taxes. During the Clinton years, they were very unhappy politically. My mother joked about me being the only liberal in the family, but the political views of my childhood shaped much of what I believe to be true for our economy.
As an adult, my view has expanded to include other perspectives. As an educator, I see children for whom life would be unbearable without government assistance. As a woman, I have had many friends for whom Planned Parenthood has been their only means of reproductive care. Several of my friends and students identify as LGBT. Having these people in my life has helped me to see how more liberal policies, like entitlement programs and marriage equality, can shape people’s lives for the better.
Today, I identify as a fiscally conservative, socially liberal registered Republican. This makes my voting decisions very difficult. Unfortunately, no candidate can meet the needs of everyone, and wanting a government that spends less but gives more is unrealistic. My family will vote for Mitt Romney because they believe he will be able to heal the economy. My friends will vote for President Obama because he champions equality and social programs.
Any vote I cast will be a betrayal to someone I love. By voting for President Obama, I’m voting against my family’s conservative fiscal values. By voting for Mitt Romney, I am voting against marriage equality for my LGBT friends and health services for my low-income female students.
I’m hoping, in these final months of the campaigns, one of the candidates will establish himself as the right choice, but for now I’m torn between wanting what is best for our economy and what is fair to our people.