When I was in high school, I never read the news or kept up with any elections. I was too young to vote anyway, so what did it matter what I knew? But even then I knew that my ignorance was bliss, and that if I started to read about the issues and the candidates (and their corruption and poor follow through) I’d just feel disillusioned and angry with the whole process.
Well, towards the end of my college career I finally started picking up a newspaper. Between that and the decidedly liberal politics of my college, I began to understand how conservative my family was, and the conflicting educations I was getting at home and at school posed a real challenge to answering the question, “are you a Democrat or a Republican?”
This question came up big time for me during the election for president (I was an Obama supporter, as long time readers may know) and it comes up again, during the election for New Jersey Governor.
Here’s the thing. I love New Jersey. I really, really do. I think we have a little bit of everything here- urban, suburban, rural, casinos, parks, racetracks, near NYC and Philadelphia, the beach, good schools, and plenty of state colleges. There are a lot of things that irk me about New Jersey too, mainly the extremely high cost of living. Several counties in New Jersey reach the top of the highest tax rates in the nation, keeping rents and home prices high in many places in the state (especially northern New Jersey). I’ve seen friends leave the state for a lower cost of living elsewhere, and I think that’s a shame. Chris Christie, the Republican running for governor, mentioned this in a debate with the other candidates. He said when people leave the state, they fall in love in other states, get married in other states, and raise their families there. Although from a road traffic perspective this may be a good thing, something should be done to keep families from being priced out of New Jersey.
The high taxes in New Jersey have long been an issue when elections come around, and this one is no different. Our taxes, tolls and unemployment are all up. Christie vows to cut wasteful spending and lower taxes, but all candidates have said that, and a recent NYT Magazine story detailed why it’s been so difficult in the past (part of it: no municipalities want to combine services, and government employees pensions are almost untouchable). Lowering the cost of living is a big deal to me, since I’d like to buy a home here one day. So I do sort of believe that Christie would try to lower taxes in New Jersey, so on that front I’d be inclined to vote for him. Yet, he’s against a woman’s right to choose and same sex marriages. And it’s these two issues that I cannot agree with, and in fact, will decide my vote.
I think it will always be like this for me. Maybe this makes me a bad voter. But I simply cannot vote for someone who wants to restrict/prohibit abortions or is against same sex marriage. If that means that my taxes are high or that I have to save longer for a mortgage, then that’s worth it to me. However, I don’t think it has to be this way. Moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava is an example. She was running for a spot in the House of Representatives, but suspended her race because she was “under siege from conservative leaders because she supported gay rights and abortion rights.” Political conservatives with a liberal view on social issues exist, but we don’t seem to see too many of them.
Candidates in either party must adhere to strict guidelines when it comes to the issues of abortion and same sex marriage. Democrats are always for, Republicans always against. It would be nice, for a voter like me, if this wasn’t always the case. If there was a candidate who wanted to keep taxes low but also was for marriage equality, or who wanted a strong national defense but also made sure a woman’s right to choose was enforced. I think a lot of people are moderates, and seeing more candidates cross the defined party lines on some issues would be great options for us.
But for now, there are a couple of issues I just can’t waver on- even if my tolls get hiked up again.