(FiveNation.com) – Despite all the analysis that goes with major elections, it can be difficult to form an intelligent opinion about all the candidates on the ballot. Because of the sheer amount of data that exists on every politician, it’s almost impossible to become familiar with all of their policies in detail.
So, how do you make your vote count? There are a few different things you can do to make sure your voice is heard.
Doing Your Research
The first step toward casting an effective vote is informing yourself properly about all the available options.
Consume news and current affairs content from as many different sources as possible. It’s no secret, media organizations can have political biases; to ensure theirs don’t influence your decision, it’s a good idea to get different perspectives.
You should also dig into each candidate’s history and voting records before you make your decision. The media won’t always cover every detail of a candidate’s background, especially at the state or local levels.
The Right & The Left
This is perhaps the best place to start when deciding who to vote for. Right-leaning, or conservative, politicians typically favor neoliberal economics (less taxes and regulation) and social conservatism (traditional family values and opposition to abortion). Left-leaning candidates favor progressive economics (higher taxes and more social welfare) and liberal social policies (access to abortion, expansion of trans rights).
These are broad categories, and individual politicians often have both liberal and conservative policies. However, if your views resonate much more with one side than the other, this should be one of your main considerations when you enter the ballot box.
In any election on the national stage (the presidential race being the best example), candidates from the two major parties usually dominate. There are other options, however. Contenders from smaller parties can also run for office, as can people with no party affiliation at all. The biggest minor parties in the US include the Green Party and the Libertarian Party.
Many people feel voting for third parties is pointless because they are so unlikely to succeed. Others view it as dangerous due to the potential for vote-splitting. In 2000, for example, many commentators noted Al Gore might have beaten George Bush to the presidency were it not for the involvement of Ralph Nader.
Third parties often focus on issues larger parties do not. If you think a minor candidate is the only one who represents your beliefs, it could be worth giving them your vote.
Making Your Voice Heard in 2020
The electoral process can be overwhelming for someone unfamiliar with politics. If you learn to look past the technical details, initially, and focus on issues that matter to you, that’s the best way to start. Making the effort to do proper research before voting is the most critical step. Even if your preferred candidate isn’t successful, you can be proud of the knowledge you played your part properly.
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