Forum

Undecided voting stems from lack of appealing candidates

Undecided voting stems from lack of appealing candidates (credit: Annette Ko/) Undecided voting stems from lack of appealing candidates (credit: Annette Ko/)
Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

I am an undecided voter, and lately I’ve been taking a lot of heat. People are frustrated that after three presidential debates and months of manipulative advertising, I have yet to make up my mind. The future of our country lies in the choice I make, and I am taking my sweet time. What’s wrong with me? A lot, but I’m not the only one to blame for my indecision.

Frankly, I wouldn’t be in this position if we had better candidates. I couldn’t agree more when people say that this is the election for the “least worst” candidate. If only former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin were running. Instead, we have two candidates who are both flawed in less shallow ways.

I like President Barack Obama as a person. Had I been of age in 2008, I would have voted for him. His message of hope had me hooked. However, four years later, the disappearance of this positivism in favor of acerbic attacks against the opposition is what frustrates me most. Where is that message of hope now? Maybe we do need change, and maybe it starts with changing the person in office.

But should I vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney just because he is the only alternative? It’s complicated. Romney is very unlikable. He flips and flops too often. Although he’s unlikable, that doesn’t mean he can’t fix the economy.

Romney’s main selling point is that the incumbent hasn’t done enough for the economy and that he can do a better job. However, the Republican candidate needs a more plausible and convincing plan. I would like to have faith, but the math for his economic recovery simply doesn’t add up — not without the loopholes he is hesitant to name, and not with his intended tax cuts. On the other hand, I don’t know how I feel about Obama’s economic plan because I don’t think it exists. Maybe he thinks no plan will look good next to Romney’s. But he has to show us something, because his record is not that strong.

But there is one more person who also makes my decision so agonizing: the decided voter. Secretly, I’m jealous of that ability to make a big decision and stick with it, yet I marvel at how many can wholeheartedly back either of these candidates. The decided voters’ biases and unconditional support make me want to defend and support the candidate they oppose. At the same time, their arguments do a convincing job of making me lean their way.

But the vehemently partisan voter is also the root of what’s wrong with our political system. After all, in a democracy we select our leaders, and our thirst for harmless fixes has left us with candidates too well versed in manipulation and empty promises. We need to make better choices. To do this, we cannot be voters who respond to the negativity that is our candidates’ favorite form of persuasion. We have to cheer louder when they show us their vision but recognize when we’re being lied to. Most importantly, we have to recognize that our leaders reflect our own strengths and weaknesses, and that to have leaders of great character requires reconsidering our own values.

Maybe I’m being too cynical, and maybe I’m harping too much on our politicians’ negative attributes and our sorry standards. But deep down, I think I could be a romantic. I want to believe in government and its leaders. I want to believe that we will do a better job of choosing these leaders.

In the meantime, this presidential race is just two proud politicians running for office. If you have decided who to vote for, great. I just ask that you give me some space while I make my own decision.