The perils of voting only emotion
Emotion is defined as a strong feeling about someone or something. Judgment on the other hand means having the ability to form sound opinions based on knowledge or at the very least reliable guesses. In this year’s presidential contest, it seems American voters are being guided more by the former than the latter. How else can one explain the dichotomy between who pollsters and pundits say will likely become our next president and that candidate’s advocacy for fiscal and social positions most Americans have historically rejected.
All of us can recall decisions we’ve made based solely on emotion. The results can often lead to pain and disappointment. Approaching middle age, I couldn’t stand the idea of getting older. How could this be happening to me? In the interest of somehow convincing myself I could reverse the biological process of aging, I purchased a high powered European sports car with all the bells and whistles. I remember the euphoric feeling I had driving my dream car away from the dealership on that beautiful fall day. With the sun roof open and the music blaring, I sped down the highway saying to myself, “Look at me. I’m not really old.”
In less than five months I found myself suffering from a severe case of buyer’s remorse. I had accumulated three speeding tickets and a ruptured disc caused by having to cram my middle-aged and expanding anatomy into a car that in no way was ever built to accommodate it. I had 54 payments left on this chariot. So much for making a decision based solely on emotion.
Emotional decisions and reactions on the part of some may lead to more serious consequences such as failed marriages, lost friendships, quitting a good job or worse: getting fired. Disastrous financial ventures like mine and worse can be extremely problematic with long lasting consequences.
In 1976 America was mad. We were angry and festering from the wounds caused from a combination of the recently concluded divisive Viet Nam War and the Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Vice President Gerald Ford, a man long respected for his honesty, integrity in his personal life and his service to his country assumed the presidency in August of 1974. On September 8, he granted Nixon a full and unconditional pardon “in the best interests of the country.” This unelected president served for another 27 months.
Ford reluctantly agreed to run for president in 1976. Many Americans had never forgiven him for his pardon of Nixon. His Democratic opponent Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter was campaigning as an outsider and reformer. America wanted change. At one point in the campaign, polls showed Carter leading Ford by 33 points.
In the closing weeks Ford was able to close the gap to within two points by Election Day by painting his opponent as lacking the necessary experience to be president. Had fewer than 25,000 votes shifted in Ohio and Wisconsin, Ford would have been elected. That emotional decision to go with an unknown, inexperienced newcomer over the proven and more experienced candidate resulted in double-digit inflation. This led to high unemployment and interest rates that peaked at 21.5 percent. Gerald Ford was not Richard Nixon, but paid for his sins-as did we- by being effectively cast as such.
This year the Democrats are using that same strategy to try and somehow morph John McCain into George W. Bush. Bush’s unpopularity, ala Richard Nixon post Watergate, has Democrats juxtaposing McCain with Bush for one simple reason: to cloud any appearance of reason in an otherwise normally rational electorate by stoking the fires of emotion within each of us. Finger pointing and playing the blame game might be enough to turn an election. The long term consequences of avoiding any semblance of a fair and balanced assessment can lead to disastrous consequences.
It seems to me any rational thinker could conclude that John McCain and the Republicans, who haven’t been the majority party in Congress since 2006, aren’t entirely responsible for every ill this country has recently incurred. And while American’s generally prefer a divided government, Democrats see this strategy as the road to the White House and a filibuster proof majority in the House and Senate.
In contrasting McCain and Obama, here are a few specific things to think about before casting your vote. This has nothing to do with emotion. These are facts.
Energy: McCain favors off-shore drilling and the expansion of nuclear power. Obama does not.
Judiciary: McCain favors judges who interpret the Constitution as written. Obama will appoint judges who will rule from the bench, considering the constitution as a “living document,” at whim.
Experience: McCain has 22 years in the U. S. Senate. Obama has served less than four years, two of which have been spent running for president.
Right to Life: McCain supports Pro-life. Obama supports abortion throughout pregnancy including partial-birth abortion.
The War: McCain authored the surge which is winning. Obama has never acknowledged the surge has worked.
Immigration: McCain is opposed to blanket amnesty resulting in citizenship for the 12 million illegal aliens who are estimated to be living here. Obama is an advocate for some form of amnesty.
Establishing English as the official language of the U. S: McCain voted yes; Obama voted no.
Capital Gains Tax: McCain-0 percent on sales of all homes up to $500,000. Obama-28 percent tax on all profit from any home sale, including the homes of all who are planning to downsize for retirement. Under an Obama’s plan a $200,000 profit from the sale of your home you would result in up to up $56,000 going back to government.
Inheritance tax: McCain supports continuing its tax exemption while and favors restoring the tax.
These are but a few of the differences between the two candidates. There’s too much at stake for any voter to rely strictly on emotion. One candidate asks us to choose hope over fear. I’m voting judgment based on reality rather than hope based on emotion.
Bob Steinberg is a free lance columnist from Edenton, North Carolina