Allured By Empty Promises: The issue with close-minded, emotional, single-issue voting

   Elections, either national or on a school level, are filled with empty promises. In 2016, that promise was to build a wall and make Mexicans pay for it. In 2020, they vary from debt-free college to a universal basic income. And it is an effective campaign strategy—who would not love having a free college education or $1000 in their pockets every month?

   Even on a school level, we have all heard promises of more Saint Stops and casual days, or greater student involvement in government (i.e. surveys), and it is difficult not to be caught up in this facade. However, this “single-issue voting,” when one elects a candidate primarily based on a single, emotionally charged issue, is harmful for the nation as a whole and should be avoided at all costs.

   Oftentimes these promises are never fulfilled. Even if a candidate does take a position that is favorable to you, as we saw in 2016 and likely 2020, these promises are very difficult to follow through with.

   In our divided, partisan system, this is especially true today. Out of 5,000 bills in Congress, only about 5% become laws. And, with people voting largely down party lines, this number has become even lower.

   Currently, over 300 bills have been passed by the House of Representatives and are sitting on Senate Majority Leader’s desk. This epitomizes the political polarization in our nation and the conflict between our Democrat-run House and Republican Senate. As a result of Congressional gridlock on both sides, policy is incredibly difficult to put into action.

   Thus, one needs to consider whether a candidate’s platform makes sense and is beneficial, even if this one stance is never followed through on. Voters also need to think about whether or not a candidate is a good person who will work hard to ensure the collective interests of those around him or her. In the end, one’s vote is essentially wasted if it is based on a single issue that never comes to light, and this needs to be realized.

   It is not enough to vote off a single issue, whether it be gun control, immigration, taxes or even abortion. Voters need to view a platform more holistically because even if these promises are fulfilled, the issues themselves are often emphasized in a campaign to exploit one’s angry, naive or emotional base. While these policies may be beneficial to a certain group of people, the true intentions behind them and their effects on voters should be further explored.

   The fact that single-issue voting persists says a lot about our society today. Instead of taking the extra time to truly become informed and develop their own opinions on multiple issues, people evidently prefer the easy way out.

   This “sheep mentality” is sadly very common today, as it is much easier to follow the “angry mob” than to become truly informed. A study found that only 34% of Americans can even name the three branches of government, suggesting a strong ignorance when it comes to politics and likely policy as well.

   This is not to say candidates should not take controversial stances on issues that may or may not come to fruition. Challenging societal norms are crucial for the betterment of our nation. Simply, the intentions behind these stances need to be considered. Some, like those promises of extra casual days, are innocent. And others are just optimistic and the candidate really does care about the people. But several are used to emotionally exploit and target a certain voter group. It is crucial to see the difference.

   With a bit of pragmatism, people need to consider the possibility of these promises actually occurring; it is not enough to vote off a single issue which will likely be difficult to address. Instead, people need to sit down, think and holistically view the platform if we are to elect those who will best represent us.

The lead editorial expresses the opinion of the Trinity Voice editorial staff. Please send comments to [email protected]