Voting Your Pocketbook

I have a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a minor in Political Science so voting and government process is kind of my thing. Even all these years later, post-college, friends and colleagues ask me questions about how the U.S. government works. Friends abroad are always surprised when I tell them America is technically a Republic, not a pure democracy. We have an electoral college after all, and throughout more than one candidate has won the majority of votes but lost the presidential election due to the electoral college. Where I live, there are a lot of measures to vote for and frankly, even with my background, I find they can be confusing. I’ve voted no any number of times on measures I supported in theory and on the surface because I didn’t see the wording I liked for distribution of funds and such. This is why, current concerns aside, I’ve been voting via mail-in for years. It gives me the time I need to plough through all the issues, check measures, weigh the pros and cons, read every word and not feel rushed. I can stop, get on the Internet and do more research when I want to, check a candidate’s credentials and explore their platform. In doing so, I hope that I make a thoroughly informed decision.

More and more as the years roll by, I find myself voting my pocketbook and my conscience. I will pause and consider voting no on measures that I am sure will cost me money but will not benefit me or my family directly. I am liberal by nature but conservative when it comes to voting yes on something I am going to be paying for. And I dislike incompetency with a passion and refuse to fund it. For example, the local transit authority is forever asking for more money to fund what I view as the transportation project from hell. The portion that was supposed to open in my town is literally a decade behind schedule so no, I am not pouring my hard earned money into that money pit if I can help it. Conversely, California public schools are lousy by national standards so anything I can do to help them to improve I will vote for because I believe that better schools benefit society in the long run. Education is the long game and I gladly fund the long game.

There are also measures that need funding that fall into the moral category. For example, I was a bit taken aback to see a measure on the ballot to fund helping restore convicted felons right to vote. That stopped me cold. Should I? Could I? In the end, I fundamentally believe in redemption or at least the chance for it so I decided that yes, I wanted to fund that. Maybe it is because I actually know a few people who made terrible mistakes, did time and are now productive members of society. Those people would give anything to have the right to vote again. Maybe my resounding ‘yes’ is personal, for them.

In the end, it almost does not matter which way you vote as long as you exercise your right to do so. And when voting for measures, remember you are funding these in most cases so think carefully before you decide to vote yes on a measure because it often means more money out of your pocket. Conversely, you can vote your pocketbook for projects and issues you feel passionately about.

So, while you may not be a Poly Sci expert or even care how our government is structured, you probably do care about your bank balance. Thus, you have the power to vote on what impacts your wallet.

Good voting Americans!

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