Before Mitt Romney declared Janesville, Wis. native Paul Ryan his running mate, Barack Obama and Joe Biden held a significant lead in Wisconsin. But shortly after the announcement, polls taken in the state tilted in favor of the Republicans.
This change in the projected winner also occurred in other states, such as Michigan, Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Ohio, but Wisconsin stands out.
We all know that Wisconsin has an extensive amount of state pride, particularly for anything related to beer, cheese or the Green Bay Packers. Now, with the chance to see a Wisconsinite become vice president, is it possible that this pride is breaching into the political realm?
Don’t get us wrong. If people really like Paul Ryan enough to cause such a change in the polls, that’s perfectly fine. But we would hope he is well liked for a reason other than the fact that he was born and raised in the Dairy State. Like him for his policies and ideas, not just because he is the Republican Party’s golden boy. And that goes for all candidates, regardless of party affiliation or any other trivial reason someone may vote for a particular person.
The point is, don’t just vote for someone without looking at the facts. Hint: that doesn’t mean watching campaign advertisements, which often blatantly ignore facts altogether. It means picking up a newspaper or watching the news (ideally with a variety of different sources). It means participating in civil, intelligent conversation with others.
So many people, particularly young people, claim they don’t vote because they don’t know enough about the issues or the candidates. We are lucky enough to live in a country where we are surrounded by educational resources. Use them. Realistically, you could even watch Saturday Night Live or read The Onion and get some sort of idea about what is going on in the world. We’re not saying this is the best approach, but it illustrates the point that political information is everywhere. Just open your eyes and ears.
Another important component of being an informed voter is looking past party lines. Sure, your political beliefs may fall more in line with one party than another, but you should not necessarily feel confined to a single title such as Democrat or Republican. What about independents? If we want to overcome the partisanship that so bitterly divides our country, we need to start here.
One of the worst things you can do is vote for a candidate simply because your friends or parents are voting for her or him. Do your own research and form your own opinion.
If you do find yourself siding with a particular candidate, make sure you educate yourself about her or his opponent as well. We all know that our preferred candidates can’t win every time, so make sure you know what the other potential winner will do if elected. Who knows, you might just find yourself agreeing with the other candidate more than you initially expected.
We know the election is still a few months away, but now is a crucial time for research to be done so we can make informed decisions in November. Wisconsin is arguably one of the most important states in deciding this election. Let’s show the nation why this state has so much pride.