Where politics is personal not partisan

Elections and the Evils of Single Issue Politicking

The Democrat and Republican parties’ political strategy keeps the masses focused on single issues, so no one thinks critically about what they are doing.

“I can’t support a candidate who isn’t pro-life,” the woman said to me, as we stood in the cold at the polls on election day. I nodded, and tried hard to resist the temptation to point out that it didn’t matter where a single state legislator stood on the issue, but her words stopped me. “Of course, that’s why I’m here. Long bus ride to support a pro-life candidate.”

I had been polite up until then, but automatically pulled a cigarette and lighter out after she said that. “So, you’re not from here?”

“No, I’m not,” she glared at my cigarette, and started the inevitable fake cough.

“Uh huh. Where are you from, then?”

“Philadelphia.”

“Definitely a long way from Pittsburgh,” I said, as I walked toward a car that had pulled up nearby. As I handed my pile of campaign materials to a woman getting out of the backseat, I started talking to the driver, not caring if the pro-life woman overheard. “I was right. The opposition imported pollsters. You owe me a scotch, and none of that blended shit.”

I turned toward the pro-life woman, waved, and yelled out to her, “Thanks for the information on your candidate.” She glared at me as I got in the car, and left.

Single issue voters and activists have been the life’s blood of political campaigns in America for years. They are loyal to a fault, provided your candidate says what they want to hear. It’s not rocket science, never will be, and that is why everyone in the political game doesn’t want to see them change. Savvy campaign strategists and managers often “hire” them to fill in gaps in districts where their candidate doesn’t have enough local supporters, like the woman at the beginning here.

Of course, it might be tempting to suggest that there should be regulations against importing campaign workers, particularly in state and local races. That wouldn’t solve the real problem – single issue voters and activists. There is nothing wrong with being passionate about issues, but that passion should not eclipse everything else.

About a decade before I came across that imported pro-life activist at the polls, my parents pulled me into the world of politics. They were life-long Democrats, but that year they were supporting Republicans in our state house race. I went to the polls with them during the primary, and when their chosen candidate lost, we still ended up supporting the Republican in the general election. My parents were furious with the Democrat incumbent, because he failed to vote for a bill they supported. It was a single issue situation for my parents, and a misguided one. The only reason our state representative didn’t vote for that bill they liked was because someone put a rider on it – something my parents would have hated. I learned the lesson that single-issue voting is dangerous from the start, before I was old enough to vote.

I don’t recall today what the issue in that election was in the first place, and that is fitting. That election year has served as the perfect illustration why it is foolhardy to make decisions at the ballot-box or as an activist with only one issue in mind. Even the woman from the beginning here is a good example of the problem. After that election, it came out that the candidate she was supporting because of his pro-life stance had been involved in an embezzlement scheme when he was a school board member. She was imported, so maybe she wouldn’t care if a district she didn’t reside in ended up being represented by a thief. The residents who supported him based solely on his pro-life stance probably did care, and hopefully some of them learned a lesson that year.

Because of the hard lessons I learned from the beginning about the world of politics, I have always approached candidates on a holistic level. Before I decide to support someone, I find out where they stand on issues that could effect me directly first. That means the vast majority of hot button issues do not come into play when I am deciding. I do hold some passionate beliefs on those issues, but I rarely decide to support anyone because they agree with me. I’ll worry more about where someone stands on taxation than on abortion, because it’s more likely that I could end up with increased taxes than a law on any hot button issue that withstands judicial scrutiny.

When I was approached to become Editor-In-Chief of this site, I saw it as an opportunity to start real conversations about the facets of politics that don’t necessarily get the exposure they should. Instead of sound bite and viral politicking that is focused on stoking the fires of outrage, we hope to offer information that sparks civilized debate. That might seem like a very idealistic concept, but it is based on the fact that many people have begun to “check out” this election season. Some of them have decided it’s better to focus on issues that actually matter to them, instead of paying too much attention to the presidential election.

No matter what, there is a growing number of people out there who believe that there will be no real winners in November. When there is no real leadership at the highest points in government, it’s time to focus on the bottom – what is often called kitchen table politics. It’s also time to actually start listening to all sides, instead of just shouting each other down. The only ones who benefit from the masses fighting now are at the top. It’s time for the masses to stop helping the political class, and start helping themselves. We’re here to provide the information the masses need to do just that. It’s our job to offer multiple views on the issues so readers can make up their own minds, unlike the politicians who tell the people what to think.

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Liz Harrison
About Liz Harrison 45 Articles
Political commentator, former campaign operative, media executive, legal and medical writer, literary editor and publisher. Founder at Vigilant Liberty Radio, podcaster and radio talk-show host, and a sexual freedom activist.

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