I'm a young, Mormon woman from a swing state. Here's why I'm an undecided voter.
My state of limbo has less to do with Mitt Romney's and President Obama's political platforms and more with the growing distance and animosity between their two parties. These two campaigns have spent millions on defamation rather than educating voters about the issues.
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On the right, I have seen an array of incumbent candidates unseated by rivals who criticized them for working across the aisle. I have seen Republicans take apparent revenge on the ridicule that defined George W. Bush’s second term by fixating on petty demands to see Obama's birth certificate.Skip to next paragraph
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On the left, I have watched Democrats play the blame game, continuing to fault Mr. Bush for the current economic ills. And I have watched officials jump on the bandwagon to demonize the entire Republican Party based on the misguided comments about rape and abortion by two Senate candidates (Tom Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana).
In sum, I have seen a government that is quick to criticize and slow to compromise. Politicians rarely define themselves by their own values but instead by party lines, special interests, and voter fears and frustrations. And I have seen two presidential campaigns invest millions of dollars from supporters on defamation rather than educating voters about the issues or their platforms.
This state of affairs doesn’t leave me any more decided or excited to cast my vote, but of course I’ll do it. Maybe, just maybe, a few more conversations, a second look at the Romney and Obama websites, a couple more blog or op-ed reads, and a little more self-reflection will do the trick.
Amid my current state of “undecidedness,” this whole process has left me with one sure reality: The president will not be the person to single-handedly solve our wide array of domestic issues.
Joblessness, poverty, large classroom sizes, gender equality, etc., these areas are ones that all of us – not just Congress or the White House – must take on. Voters seem to want the candidates to give them some enlightened plan to solve all of America’s problems, and it’s frustrating when they don’t. But in spite of Obama’s and Romney’s best efforts to convince voters of their supreme competence to solve the nation’s problems, neither man can do it all.
American voters should stop seeing their power as confined to deciding this election. Be we young, female, Mormon, conservative, part of the liberal academic youth, or any other demographic, we can be a powerful force for good in spite of the broken nature of politics today. That responsibility may begin with casting a single vote, but the actions we take once we leave the voting booth are likely to have far more of an impact. What we do each day to improve our communities is what will spur America’s recovery – and progress.
Crystal Trejo will graduate from Harvard University in May 2013 with a degree in government and Spanish. She has been active in student government and is a research partner at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.