What If?

by Sarah Hill, SUNY Cortland, November 6, 2008

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What if everyone who voted had to make their decision completely void of all opinions?

What if no one was allowed to voice an opinion for or against any candidate, but to just tell the facts and nothing more? That is the goal, or so I thought until I began to weed through the information I was bombarded with at two recent family events. All of the information was one-sided and most of it was misinterpreted and misleading.

I have two sets of grandparents with completely different political views, which is probably why they are not one set of grandparents. My mother’s father is voting for McCain--hands down I know this--he told me to vote for McCain. When I questioned him why McCain is the better choice he told me that “He is better because I am voting for him, and that is all you need to know.” I am not sure if I can call that an informed decision on my part.

Let’s see, what issues are important to me? Health care, Jobs and wages, gas prices, economic crisis, and foreclosures, but it is not limited to just those either.

On the phone with my mother’s mom, Nana, minutes later I am told to make my own decision and given web sites and news articles to read, in fact she’ll bring them next time she visits so that I am informed, but she would still like me to vote for Obama. This encounter was slightly better yet no information has truly been exchanged beyond who to vote for.

The scramble comes when Nana decides she is going to visit for a week. In preparation I am sent out in search of both Obama and McCain signs for our yard and given the task to switch them accordingly. When Nana is home it is to be Obama and when Grandpa, conveniently our neighbor, is looking: McCain. Not a small task at all, after three days of switching them about seven times daily Nana catches on and tells me to leave the McCain one out because Grandpa is our neighbor and she is “just visiting.”

This rift that has divided my family plagues my vote as the election nears. The question has become more to the point in recent days. It has progressed from “Who do you think you will vote for?” to a direct “Who are you voting for?” to a completely distinguished “You are voting for ________, right?” which is really not a question but a statement.

As the election nears I am still at a loss whom to vote for, I ask people who they are voting for but that really does not make a difference to me, others should not have a sway on my decision. I should be able to make an informed decision based on facts and my own beliefs and agendas and completely disregard how others feel.

My vote is confidential… right? Could it be possible to be completely void of all others' opinions when making this decision? Can it be possible that the presidential election is like My Space? I consider this as a race to see who can collect the most friends. Could a domino effect of sorts be created around who is friends with whom instead of making an informed decision? Could I vote for one candidate over another not on their own accord but on what someone else has led me to believe? Do we truly have a choice or are we letting others choose for us? Scary, huh?

All I know is that whoever wins, someone must lose. This means Thanksgiving will be interesting. I think I’ll visit the grandparent who won.

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