Regardless of political affiliation, there is one thing that most – if not all – Americans can agree on: politicians, in general, tend to disappoint. Regardless of who ends up in the White House and Congress, even the winning voters tend to end up feeling betrayed with the losing side saying, “I told you so.”
Conservatives vote their Republican candidates into office hoping for lower taxes, an end to illegal immigration, unlimited first and second amendments, the abolition or restriction of abortion, and smaller government in general. Unfortunately, more often, they end up with little in the way of those promises, and less privacy to boot.
Progressives vote their Democrat candidates in hoping for immigration reform, a populace protected from the irresponsible use of the first and second amendments, the right to choose abortion, and more social support programs – even if it means more taxes and a larger government. The most common result? They end up with less individual liberty and more debt. The poor end up just as miserable as they were before.
While there are at least as many other issues and opinions as there are people who vote, these seem to be the major factors. The Democratic Party’s 2016 platform can be read in its entirety here, and the Republican platform here.
Despite the many promises made by both parties, most voters recognize that neither is likely to deliver on all of their pledges. With Donald J. Trump as president, it seems that more people are complaining than usual. Those who never supported him call him racist, fascist, and insane. Many of his supporters are also dissatisfied, but still say that anyone is better than Hillary Clinton. This position has been attacked by both Clinton supporters and die-hard Trump supporters, though naturally for different reasons. While it may seem like a lazy position to take, it does have some merit – if you understand what you’re voting for in this two party system. Conservative Republicans tend to view human rights as liberty that the government needs to avoid infringing – such as free speech and the right to bear arms – and progressive Democrats see human rights as things that the government must provide – such as health care and free education.
In a perfect world, we should be able to choose an individual candidate based only on his or her own promises, doing so in our real world is naive at best. To decide what candidate to vote for in any election, voters need to understand one thing. Politicians tend to vote along party lines, and true bipartisan agreements are difficult to achieve. What this means for the average citizen is that a vote for a candidate from either party is a vote for legislation, executive orders, and appointments along established party lines down the road. The best way to see what any candidate will likely support once elected is not to look at the current platform, but to look at the voting record of the recent past. To see what either party is likely to do once in office, voters must familiarize themselves with what bills were sponsored and supported by which party. Tools like Govetrack.us make this easier than ever, but it still entails some work. The media is also a good place to start, but beware the oft-lamented media bias. While the GOP isn’t perfect, it does stand between the American people and the complete loss of individual liberty. A look at the voting records shows what most conservative and libertarian Americans already know: Democrats vote to suppress the first and second amendments every chance they get.
While many liberty loving Americans are second-guessing their choice to place Donald Trump in the White House, the simple truth is that liberty is safer in the hands of any Republican president and Congress than it is with Democrats. A Republican vote may not get you the unfettered freedom you hoped for, but a Democrat vote is always a vote to surrender your first and second amendment rights at the very least. Once those are gone, what liberty remains?