During the 2008 Presidential Election, I was often asked which candidate I was supporting for my party’s nomination and then later which candidate I was going to vote for in the general election. I was frustrated by my inability to explain that I was going to support the nominee of my political party as opposed to favoring one candidate or another. Consequently, I often felt left out of spirited debates about the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates. Why was I more concerned about which party seized control of the Executive branch of government and relatively unconcerned about the individual who would lead our nation in January 2009?
I rationalized my disinterest with the individuals running for President knowing that candidates are rarely as good or as bad as they are portrayed during an election season.
I also know that both of the two major political parties, despite their differences, care deeply about America and Americans. The issue is not as simple as one party is good and the other party is bad for our nation. Like their candidates, each party has obvious strengths and glaring weaknesses. After some thought, I was finally able to use a simplistic analogy to help understand my focus on the party in power instead of any one candidate.
One of our two major political parties believes in a United States where individuals have the freedom to use their talents, skills and abilities to advance without government imposed limitations. This party believes in limited government engagement to assist those who are on the way up or on the way down. Simplistically this party believes that individuals have the right to succeed or fail without the fear of or the expectation of government involvement. Simplistically, when in power, this party governs a house where individual freedoms and opportunities have no ceiling and no floor.
The other political party believes in a United States where government oversight and engagement provides collective minimum standards for the security, health and material well-being of most citizens. This party favors the advancement of the country collectively using social safety nets that limit how far anyone may fall during their individual climb. Simplistically, when in power, this party governs a house where a large and accessible mezzanine is in place for those trying to climb from the basement to the penthouse.
My ceiling-floor and mezzanine analogy allowed me to objectively and unemotionally make a positive choice between two conflicting but equally sound approaches to governing our nation.
I believe that our individual and collective expectations of our leaders would be better aligned with reality if voters would make more informed decisions using my simplistic view of the two parties to make more informed choices on Election Day.
If you favor a country that provides you with individual opportunities to succeed or fail on your own, your choice of political parties is clear. Your choice is equally clear if you favor a country where all of its citizens, like the children of Lake Wobegon, are “above average” thanks to and not in spite of engaged government oversight.