Now that Presidential Primary Season Has Finally Arrived, Here’s an Inclusive Voting Checklist

I support the message, but not the candidate.

I support the message, but not the candidate.

As Iowa prepares to kick off the national presidential race tonight, it occurs to me that most people have at least one vote in their history that they wish they could retract. That often happens when you vote for a personality, or are swayed by one single issue.

Maybe if there were some sort of a checklist for voters to examine before they head out to the polls or the primaries or the caucuses, those tragic voting mistakes wouldn’t happen? In an effort to encourage voters to keep the big picture in mind, I thought it might be useful to present a checklist that you can consult when considering the candidates. The rules are simple: if the candidate doesn’t align with the checklist, you should find another candidate that does. This is a first draft, but it gets to the basic idea that if you don’t vote with an inclusive agenda at heart, you’re voting against your own interests.

A Brief Inclusive Voting Checklist

  • Does the candidate support an economic agenda that includes everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality?
  • Does the candidate support raising the minimum wage to livable levels?
  • Does the candidate support raising the taxes on the top one percent to pay for sensible investments like infrastructure, education, and clean energy?
  • Does the candidate support gun responsibility laws?
  • Does the candidate recognize the fact that punishing poor people for being poor is a race to the bottom?
  • If the answer to all five of those questions is “yes,” you’re voting for the right person. If the answer is “no,” you’re probably going to regret your vote. Let’s go through the reasoning, step by step.

    1. If a candidate opposes a particular group of people—refugees, say, or immigrants, or a certain religion or race—then that candidate is encouraging exclusivity. We’ve published many pieces on this blog explaining why excluding people from your economy is a bad idea; in short, it creates a negative feedback loop that discourages participation. Eventually, diverse populations will choose to go somewhere else, and your economy will suffer.

    2. If low-wage workers can’t climb above the poverty line by working 40 hours a week, you might as well admit that the American dream is dead.

    3. You need money to make money. We haven’t been investing in our future, and it shows. While the Tea Party/Libertarian alliance would like you to believe that all government spending is bad, the truth is that government investments in topics that the market doesn’t have the capacity to support—things like experimental clean energy, education for all, and public transportation—actually helps the market in the long run. A vote against all government spending is a vote against the future.

    4. This is pretty simple: you shouldn’t support candidates who are in favor of the needless deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year.

    5. Candidates who favor rules that bar access to mental health care and food stamps are only making the system worse. If they support predatory lenders, they’re not betting on the American future. They’re intent on creating an American underclass that remains eternally in debt while the rich get richer. That’s downright un-American.

    There are plenty more items that should be on this checklist — I’ll keep adding to it as election season progresses — but it’s a good start. The most basic rule to keep in mind, I think, should always be item one: is the candidate inclusive or exclusive? If they exclude people, they don’t deserve your vote.

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    Paul Constant
    Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.