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The political fork in the road

Once again we are leading up to an election with two candidates to choose from who have been painted as opposites of one another.
Case in point: Romney for Big Oil, Obama for clean energy; Romney for lowering taxes among the wealthiest, Obama for raising taxes among the wealthiest; Romney for tighter immigration, Obama’s DREAM act; Romney pro-life and Obama pro-choice; Romney against same sex marriage, Obama for same sex marriage.
This leaves a lot of people in a pickle. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 40 percent of Americans identify as Independent, and a 2012 Gallup poll shows that 40 percents of 18-to-29-year-old Americans classify themselves as having a moderate political ideology. Yet without a strong emerging third party, people – that’s me and you – will have a tough choice to make.
In the long run, a change within the Republican, and perhaps even the Democratic Party, is inevitable, whether ideological or structural. As Adam Nagourney writes in The New York Times, the Republican Party has become a “disparate coalition of factions” that is in the midst of a serious transition. Right now the GOP encompasses lots of people, from the religiously zealous to Tea Party supporters, to economic libertarians and supply-siders. And that doesn’t totally work – how can all of the different kinds of people lumped into the Republican Party all support Mitt Romney’s agenda that is largely formed by powerful lobbyists anyway? They just can’t, and won’t.
Following the long debate regarding abortion regulation, Todd Akin’s ridiculous statements about rape and pregnancy have only given women further reason to support the Democrats. And why shouldn’t they? As a woman myself, I don’t want a anyone telling me what I can and can’t do with my own body.
President Obama’s order of the DREAM Act, though somewhat unconstitutional, gives social liberalists further reason to support his administration.
And all the while Republicans are painted as the bad guys. Exactly. I say “guys” because, as Nagourney points out, the leaders of the party are becoming older, whiter men who support tight fiscal plans and even tighter social policies.
Where does that leave the rest of us lumped in the GOP? The moderates? The libertarians? The young, LGBT-supporting women who fear invasive big government because of books like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451?
The temporary solution, right now, is to work with what we’ve got: two big platforms dramatically divided. Since this year’s election is still a few months away, there’s time to sit and think about how you want to see this country in the future. You’ll probably be a college graduate searching for a job. Will there be a healthy job market? How will your tax dollars be spent?
These are crucial questions to ask yourself. We deserve a say in what’s going on and while we can easily let some of these things happen on their own, it wouldn’t be too smart. Government officials and workers are ordinary people too. They have ordinary mistakes, desires, networks and motives, and questioning their decisions is imperative as members of the governed populous. Assuming that they know best is assuming too much.
In the end, you’ll have to pick from two distinct, well-crafted agendas. But whose plan will you support? Maybe it’ll take making a list of pros and cons for either of the candidates.
We are the young, and (presumably) the informed, and should thereby cast our votes. Even though in two months we can’t radically change the political structure to something more sensible, we can make well-informed decisions for this year’s election. A systematic change is inevitable but, for now at least, we’ve got to go with the flow.
Emma Willoughby is a junior sociology and liberal arts double major from South Haven, Mich.