Saturday, February 2, 2008

Getting Educated

I like to vote because I feel like a participating citizen when I do so. In Oregon, at the time when elections were moving to 100% mail-in ballots, I have a happy memory of sitting with Shobi-wan and two intelligent friends studying the 30+ ballot measures as if we were cramming for an exam. Since then, I have tried to always vote with my mind, not my gut.

I am studying up on the candidates this weekend. With Edwards out of the race, I only have to study two, so at least waiting this long has lessened the amount of homework I have to do. It's tough. I don't know what I think about a lot of issues (immigration? subprime mortgages?). A friend sent me this survey, and I either couldn't decide which answer I liked or I didn't like any of the answers on this multiple choice quiz. Clinton and Obama hold similar positions on a lot of issues, and so the quiz showed both of them closely matching my answers (some of which were guesses).

This is not a big election for state propositions, as three of them are basically the same and one is totally irrelevant, but I'm not sure how to vote. Raising revenue from "sins" like smoking, gambling, and alcohol leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but the state needs revenue. While I like some of the parts of the community college funding proposition, I don't like all of them - and yet as someone who was part of the college financial aid community for ten years, I am very clear on how important the CC system is for educating our youth. At least I know how I'll vote on the term limits proposition, but not for any of the obvious reasons.

When elections erupt in chaos and death, like they have in Kenya, or are made irrelevant, like they have in Pakistan, it seems to me that I have no reason not to go to the little church up the hill and cast my ballot. Maybe I'll have to take thirty minutes out of my day to exercise the right that my great-grandmothers didn't have and to participate in the political process that makes me an American.

In the meantime, I have to make some decisions.

No comments: