Obama or Romney? Neither!

Why I’m not voting for a major party candidate this year.

Creative Commons photo by Tom Giebel. Source: Flickr

For the past few weeks, most politically active Americans have watched as the Republican and Democratic National Conventions have streamed by, tuning in to the speakers who excited them and opting to ignore those who did not. I, however, have not followed these political gossip sessions, adhering to the belief that the conventions have devolved into a pageant of rhetoric and celebrity. Whereas the original purpose of the conventions was to generate party support through the discussion of issues and show support for a candidate, in recent years this element of platform concretization has been lost, buried under catchy slogans (RNC: “We Built This”) and the demonization of the opposing party. Despite all of this over-performance, the main reason I haven’t been watching the conventions is very simple: I’m not voting for either candidate.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a conservative Black-American woman who believes that one should vote for the candidate with whom one sides on the majority of the issues, not based on race, religion, marital status, socioeconomic background, or what a candidate may or may not have smoked while in college. It is because of the issues and the issues alone that I’m choosing to vote for neither President Obama nor Governor Romney.

Going forward, I hope that this is an attitude that more Americans adopt, mainly because I believe that politics should not be an arena for petty squabbles over what a candidate chooses to do in his spare time or whose wife is more fashionable (yes, this was a real discussion at a political forum), but rather an intelligent, informed discussion on the issues.

Having said this, here are some of those issues as presented on the candidates’ websites. (As an aside, both campaign websites leave a lot to be desired, Gov. Romney’s is a bit disjointed — for an example of this, visit his page on Economic Growth and Job Creation. I combed through paragraphs on Obama, followed by a history of American industry, before arriving at the eventual promise of a plan. As for Pres. Obama’s site, I had to slip by two pages asking for a donation before I could even get in. Maybe you will have better luck.) Though there are many other important things to discuss, listed are the ones that are important to me:

On the economy and job creation, both candidates believe in subsidizing US farmers and both disagree with raising the minimum wage. On illegal immigration, Barack Obama believes that children of illegal immigrants should be granted citizenship if born in the U.S. but that this policy should not extend to their parents. Mitt Romney believes that children of illegal immigrants should not be granted citizenship. Barack Obama believes that illegal immigrants working in the U.S. should be granted temporary amnesty and Mitt Romney disagrees. Mitt Romney believes that funds should be limited for public schools that do not meet performance standards while Barack Obama does not believe in limiting funds to underperforming schools, under the assumption that reducing access to resources will further compound the problem.

On the environment, Barack Obama believes in global warming and Mitt Romney believes that global warming and cooling are natural Earth cycles. Regarding LGBTQ issues, President Obama recently expressed his support for same-sex marriage. In an interview with ABC News, the President said he believes it’s important to “treat others the way you would want to be treated” in regards to existing laws on same-sex marriage and during his term, the discriminatory law known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was finally formally repealed. In addition to this, President Obama has expressed his support for the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that would uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples. On the same issue, Mitt Romney is quoted by the National Review Online having said, “Like the vast majority of Americans, I’ve opposed same-sex marriage, but I’ve also opposed unjust discrimination against anyone, for racial or religious reasons, or for sexual preference. Americans are a tolerant, generous, and kind people. We all oppose bigotry and disparagement. But the debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage and it is a debate about activist judges who make up the law rather than interpret the law.”

Though this is a simple summary of just a few issues, when I looked at each candidate issue to issue, I was unable to decide between the two, agreeing with one candidate on some issues and the other on alternate issues, with neither coming ahead. After combing through both campaign websites, I was forced to find an alternative.

If you are unsure with whom you side on an issue that has been omitted from this article, but is of importance to you, I encourage you to go to www.isidewith.com to take the candidates quiz — the best of its kind, in my opinion  — and learn more about all of the different candidates and perhaps even learn a little more about your own political views.

Whitney Lee ‘14 (whitneylee@college) has a non-normative political affiliation, and she is proud of that.