It sends shivers down my spine to think that we'll have a new president in a little less than a year. If you're anything like me, you are dreading Election Day.
We've entered the part in the race where we are really just waiting to see who makes the most mistakes until November, and then we can decide who we like in our party. The Democrats are looking at Clinton and Sanders (sorry, O'Malley), and the Republicans are looking at, well, half the Senate. That being said, we'll go ahead and say they're Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
I understand that it's extremely easy to just look at one party and say, "He seems cool enough," and go on your merry way. But I beg you, please don't. Yes, most years that is the easy thing to do, and more often than not, it's the most accurate way to pick the right candidate for you.
But this year is different. We aren't looking at Democrats and Republicans this year. This year, it actually comes down to policy, which, for someone who "doesn't really care," can be extremely scary thought.
So, how do you know who to vote for? Let's break it down.
1. Vote for policy, not politics.
I know that it sounds hard, but it's way easier than it seems. I'm not asking you to run out and look at every single policy these guys have, but I am asking you to pick a few. Pick three or four issues that matter more than anything to you.
They can entail education, commerce, foreign policy, etc. Just pick a few things.
Sure, you can read over political analysis after political analysis to find a guy you like, but you are still looking at a politician through someone else's eyes. Reading someone else's opinion of a politician is like putting on a random person's glasses and expecting to have perfect vision. It's probably not gonna happen.
2. Pick two you like.
Most people pick one and they're done, but don't be among most people. Find two policies that you really like and keep an eye on both of them.
Go in with two in mind, and force yourself to pick one. It should never be a blind choice for one single candidate.
Even if someone you really like is only sitting at 1 percent in the polls, talk about and endorse him or her. There has to be a reason you like that person, and I can guarantee you're not alone in your beliefs. Make this decision a hard one, and keep up with the candidates.
This one seems like rocket science to most "educated voters." Most people have already picked their candidate, and we are barely past the first caucus.
How can people expect the guy they want to maintain their same beliefs for the next few months? These are politicians we're talking about! Their morals change faster than the time.
3. Watch debates, read speeches and follow them on social media.
Do anything and everything you can to be completely sure you know who you are dealing with. Flip-flopping is a plague that no politician is immune to. Every single candidate so far has flip-flopped on an issue, so get used to it.
More than anything, be completely prepared to change your choice. Don't get your mind set on one person and then ride him or her out through thick and thin.
You are voting for one of the most powerful people on the planet, not your best friend. Make a good choice.
4. Get in some arguments.
Some of you can't even fathom getting in an argument about politics. You think politics don't concern you, but guess what? It does.
Getting into debates stimulates your brain, and they force you to consider the good and bad reasons for liking a certain candidate. You get to make your points and reinforce and deepen your understanding, but you also get a valuable opportunity to hear a few counterpoints. Be careful not to make it personal, and remember that your friends and family are more important to you than the next president.
5. Don't rip your relationships apart over this candidate.
Remember that your vote is important, but not decisive. Once again, the candidate is not your best friend. Have a good sense of humor.
This should be the easiest part, but few seem to grasp the idea. Don't get offended when someone jokes about or insults your candidate.
If anything, take it as feedback. Get an idea of what people think of this person.
If your candidate becomes the brunt of a joke, odds are, there's a reason for that. Learn to defend your candidate, or even better, learn to laugh at the joke. So, don't take it personally.
Very few of the voters actually know this person well enough to get offended for him or her, and you probably don't know any of them any better than the rest of us. Accept that all candidates will have their pitfalls, and they will all be made fun of sometime in the next few months (some more than others).
6. Pick the change you want to see.
I can't emphasize this enough. We are Americans, and we are competitive. Don't pick the one who is looking to stop at status quo; look for someone with in-depth points.
If you are looking for someone who will focus on education reform, look for someone who has a policy on all education. Don't let one golden point veil your view of all the bad points behind it.
Look for someone who will excel America past the rest of the world, and if you are one of the many people who thinks we already have excelled past the rest of the world, look for someone to excel us further.
We are a special country. We have a lot of land, a lot of people and a lot of money.
Don't expect that what another country does will work for us. Statistics are notoriously bad at scaling up. Look for someone who wants to send America into a new age and reset the standard for the rest of the world.
Remember that the election is supposed to be about the best choice, not your favorite choice. Consider and respect other views. Try to keep it fun and at least somewhat classy.
We are picking the next president, not the captain of a kickball team. So, don't pick the underdog because you feel bad.
Everyone will have a different view on who the best choice is. Make the best of it, and roll with the punches. In the end, maybe, just maybe, you'll end up picking the right guy.