Why the Economy Can Still Take a Backseat to Social Issues

This election season has many voters focusing on job creation and economic recovery. Despite the candidates’ vastly differing stances on social issues, the public seems deaf to any reasoning that doesn’t include the words, “debt,” “jobs,” or “budget.” Here’s why my vote is not being decided by fiscal policy.

Same-Sex Marriage
The US Supreme Court declared in the decision of Loving v. Virginia that marriage is a right. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment guarantees that laws must be evenly applied to all citizens. So, given marriage, a man may marry a woman; while, any law preventing a woman from doing the same (marrying a woman) is denying that woman equal protection under the law. A law that prevents a man from marrying a man denies that man the fundamental human right of marriage, protected by the Constitution of the United States. Those who argue that the phrasing “marriage to the opposite sex” is not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause would do well to read up on the unconstitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws decided in the above, Loving v. Virginia.

Coverage of Women’s Preventative Health
While our Constitution has an Equal Protection Clause, health concerns do not. Diseases frequently disproportionally affect individuals based on their ethnicity or sex. An employer who offers a healthcare plan that neglects women’s health is in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sex (and reproductive health issues), including compensation and terms/privileges of employment.

Social Vs. Fiscal
Above are just two examples of modern civil rights battles that have clear answers entrenched in hundreds of years of constitutional law. I may enjoy debate on the pros and cons of the 2008 bailouts and see truths on both sides, but America can have only one stance on the equality of all humans. Most economic plans have some shred of validity to them, and maybe we’ll be surprised by some positive effects even in the worst plan. Even if a politician’s economic plan is sure to bring the economy to its knees, people will persevere, and our economic landscape will evolve. Civil Rights, however, cannot be compromised, and anyone who claims otherwise is not worth a vote.

Presidential Debate Candidate Selection Criteria

I have very much enjoyed watching the first three debates this year.  I believe debates are essential for the electorate to make an informed decision for the betterment of the nation.  Unfortunately, one specific aspect of the Commission on Presidential Debates Candidate Selection Criteria is presenting a barrier to a fully informed electorate: the requirement of 15% support in the polls.
I eagerly watched all the debates in 2008 and made my decision between the two candidates running for president.  Imagine my surprise when I found that my ballot had at least 6 names in the “President” category.  Confidence in my decision plummeted.  How can I just assume that there’s no one better than the nominees from the Democratic and Republican parties?  It’s not right, so I made it a point in 2012 to look into everyone on my ballot.
Selecting candidates for national debates can be no easy task, and the CPD nonpartisan criteria start off strong.  Obviously, the only individuals in the debate should be those who are legally able to become president in this election.  It also makes sense to require that candidates have made a sufficient enough effort to have the ballot access necessary to win the electoral college.  So far, four candidates meet the requirements for 2012: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Dr. Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson.  Let’s talk about the third and final qualification that knocked the last two individuals off that list.
The CPD looks at polls and only picks the names that it sees.  This is the only criterion that relies on input from private organizations.  This is the only criterion based on an arbitrary metric (15%?  Why not 30? 5?).  This is the only criterion that uses statistics with sampling errors and selection bias.  This is the only criterion that is a partisan requirement.  Effective polling is based on a limited number of closed-ended responses for each question.  When asked, “If the elections were held today, for whom would you vote for President?” the available responses are limited to the two major party candidates.  If a respondent gives any other answer, their preference is determined from just between those two candidates, and anything other than “Undecided” gets counted toward one of those two parties.  So, if it’s impossible for a third party to even show up in the polling results, let alone with 15% of the support, how can these criteria be nonpartisan?  An awful lot of trust is being placed in the polling institutions to determine the political landscape, when their position is only meant to report on opinions.  Only a candidate who is being treated as a candidate will achieve the recognition requisite for public support, but they’re only treated as a candidate if they’ve shown mass public support.  This process results in a vicious circle of third parties being disregarded and discredited, perpetuating the political monopoly of the two major parties.
I hope the CPD will think about what it means to be nonpartisan and consider removing any criteria that use opinion polling.  We need fully informed voters, and the current system isn’t accomplishing that.