With the Iowa caucus behind us, it is time for voters to get serious about who they want to vote for. Nominations are around the corner, and the educated voter brings the best chance for America to elect the most qualified candidate running for office. Most Northwestern students are eligible to vote, but media bias might convince some that what they see on television is enough. Do conservative students know that Ted Cruz is rather progressive on drug policy?
Or do liberal students know Martin O’Malley is comparatively conservative on the same subject? What voters know — and what they don’t know — makes the difference between a valuable vote and one that might not actually reflect a voter’s true views.
It has been blasted over pretty much every news media outlet that Donald Trump wants to ban Syrian refugees and that most Republican candidates are not in support of climate change regulations. What may come as a surprise, however, is that both Cruz and Jeb Bush support only admitting Syrian refugees that are Christian, while Hillary Clinton supports the death penalty. The positions these candidates take may not be known to those that only pay attention to surface-level media. Voter efficacy requires those interested in changing this country for the better actually do the research on what the candidates stand for and vote on their preference, not just who is the highest in the polls.
What students need to realize is that an interest in politics and knowledge of the political field is more than just knowing their favorite candidate. Among other things, it is about knowing all of the candidates, the bills they have supported and their platform stances. Although students might not have the time to learn all of this information, making an effort matters. Comprehension of the political platforms (all of them) goes beyond the politicians. It entails conversation with other people about the issues and involvement in political activities.
True voter efficacy leads to unforeseen opportunities that help you, all because the values you are looking for in the politicians are the same values you align with in your life. Research into political life helps you decide what you really want in your life as well, and can even help like-minded individuals with what they want to decide with their lives. For example, if a person went to a Bernie Sanders rally to see what kind of a candidate he was, they could come out with a new passion for social policy. The point of the election isn’t to find the “perfect candidate,” but rather to find the candidate that best represents who you are as a person and what you care about the most. And that can’t happen without first knowing yourself and knowing all the platforms.
The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.