I Love Them, I Love Them Not: Being Undecided in 2008


Published: October 16, 2008

What did Sir Winston Churchill say? “If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no head!” Well, I’ve never been a liberal, and I’m not quite a conservative. So for a great deal of time I’ve found myself anxiously nestled in that undecided segment of the polls, with friends from both sides (although mostly from the left) urging me to make a decision. When I discovered the Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr, I was immediately in love. He used to be a Republican, but became a Libertarian within the last few years. Barr desires to leave marriage issues to the states, has a pro-life voting record and supports Second Amendments rights. He proposes significantly decreasing the military and economic support we are providing the government of Iraq, without announcing a timetable to our enemies there. He proposes two possibilities for tax reform: we can create a flat income tax while eliminating or cutting other levies, or we can replace income and payroll taxes with a consumption tax like the Fair Tax. In all of Barr’s ideals lies the common theme of limiting federal government and increasing individual liberties.

Still, I feel pressure not to “waste my vote.” I know that there is no way for Bob Barr to win this election. So which is more unethical—voting for a candidate I don’t completely support or throwing my vote away on a candidate who has no chance of winning? Usually, voting for a third party candidate only serves to weaken one of the major candidates, especially a major candidate with ideals closer to those of the third party candidate. I am certainly caught in quite the dilemma.

The clock is ticking for me to make my decision, and I find myself in the unfortunate position of having to choose who I dislike less, rather than who I like more. Sen. Barack Obama’s, Ill.-Dem., plans and promises indicate that he would place a lot of power with the federal government. He supports a universal healthcare system, which I suspect will be costly and ineffective. Although I should be able to trust the Republican candidate to want smaller federal government, Sen. John McCain, Ariz.,  has been a strong President George W. Bush supporter, and under Bush we’ve seen the greatest increase in the size of federal government since FDR. Obama has one of the least pro-life voting records I’ve ever seen. This is a huge issue for me. McCain, on the other hand, consistently votes pro-life. Though gay marriage is not the most important issue for me, I don’t think the federal government should be able to mandate any marriage policies. For those of you for whom this issue is extremely important, don’t be fooled by either candidate. The candidates’ policies and personal beliefs on this issue are not dissimilar. They both believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and they both support pretty equivalent notions of civil union. I think we may find that both of them will support a little too much involvement from the federal government on this particular issue.

As for the war in Iraq, the proposals of both candidates scare me. An approach like Obama’s, that doesn’t really allow for wiggle room and disregards the advice of military leaders on the ground, looks like an admission of defeat. McCain’s approach will cost us money we do not have. Neither candidate supports a Fair Tax, to my dismay. However, Obama wants to increase taxes on incomes greater than $250,000. Depending on where you live and exactly how much debt you are in, $250,000 can either be a lot of money or really not that much. In reality, a raise in taxes will hurt mostly everyone, even if they make less than $250,000 a year. McCain plans to lower the corporate tax, and I think this is a good call. People seem to think that corporations are the root of all evil in America, and that they should be punished with high taxes. Things are not that clear cut. While corporations do need regulation, high taxes on corporations make it hard for them to do business here. When would-be American jobs move oversees, our imports increase and our exports decrease. This hurts our Gross Domestic Product.

I guess the choice is clear for me. I can’t vote for Bob Barr, because he can’t win. I obviously can’t vote for Obama, because I disagree with 90 percent of his policies. It comes down to that out-of-touch “maverick,” John McCain, even though it pains me to watch him debate and he inexplicably gets on my nerves. His foreign policy is frightening, but not any more frightening than Obama’s. In many ways, his domestic policy is very conservative, but in many ways my domestic policy is pretty conservative. I guess I’ll be wearing red on Nov. 4.