The divide between Democrats and Republicans is perhaps the most repulsive thing to those that do not vote. There has always been a constant battle within myself between my interest in politics and this unattractive aspect of it. One part of me seems to be eternally irritated by individuals seemingly blindly following a party. The other part of me (the slightly larger part) is absolutely obsessed with the beauty of seeing progress—whether big or small.
In the 2018 election, I voted split ticket. I vote split ticket because I believe most candidates and propositions shouldn’t be looked at through a strict party lens. Had the previous presidential primary been open for the Republicans, I would have voted for a Republican candidate that did not have the initials of DT. However, for things like mayor and state Senate I voted for Democrats because the platform they ran on addressed many of the issues that are important to me.
The main indicator of an individual’s vote choice is what party they identify with. Since I do not identify with a party, my vote choice comes down to issue saliency. Growing up in a city with poor infrastructure (potholes claimed many of my parents’ tires), I’m down with spending money to improve roads and increase ridership on public transportation because I felt so special when the road near my home finally got paved. For reasons like this, I voted no on Proposition 6, which would have repealed the gas tax that was passed by Governor Brown in 2017.
This obsession that I have with noticeable progress has developed into a passion for politics on a local level, where the political divide between Republicans and Democrats is less noticeable. I spend most of my time leading up to elections focusing on mayoral races, city council races and local measures. These are the things that are implemented quickly and can impact a community significantly.
I am registered to vote in Santa Ana, California and there was a measure to increase sales tax by 1.5 percent. The measure passed and is estimated to bring in an extra $60 million for the city, which was estimated to be running a budget deficit of nearly $40 million a year in a few fiscal years. Big decisions like these are being made regardless of what is going on between democrats and republicans.
Not identifying with a political party should not be something that makes one feel excluded from the political process. Instead, one should feel empowered by voting split ticket because it is a sign that candidates and propositions were looked at objectively. This is something that I have to remind myself of daily because levelheaded citizens are desperately needed in a heavily divided society.
By: Cole Curry is a junior political science major.