WHY: Episode 1, wherein the concept of “why” is viewed in light of election season.

As I’ve studied candidates and issues for this election, I am surprised (even more surprised than I thought I would be) at the number of people who either choose not to, or who never even thought to, explain *WHY* they feel, think, choose what they choose (let alone the number of folks who don’t even care to publicly state what they feel, think, or choose in the first place. Yay for platitudes!).

I am aghast at the toddler-style problem spotting, so-called leaders pointing to a bruise and asking for a band-aid for it. Dear politicians, bruises don’t need band-aids. That’s just something kids do to make themselves feel better emotionally; it doesn’t actually heal anything or serve any purpose.

“Our kids shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for college tuition.” You’re right; that sucks, but *WHY* is it happening? Is the value really displayed by the cost? If not, where is the price hike coming from? Whose pockets are getting padded? Tacking on some legislation to take from Peter and give to Paul says absolutely zilch about the problem itself. It’s a band-aid on a bruise.

“Our Constitution shouldn’t be able to be changed willy nilly.” I know, right? I mean, if you can change it willy nilly, then wherein lies its value (a principle that can be applied to a political candidate too, actually). But does A107 actually help that? Is a petition the same as changing the Constitution? Are we not a society that values the minority voice anymore? Where is their voice if total democracy (as opposed to representative democracy and supported individual liberties) rues every hour of the day? Does this measure help prevent the problem the A107 supporters so shamelessly emotionalized to the public?

Look, if you don’t bother to learn a little more about injuries as you grow up, you’ll likely never figure out that band-aids don’t heal bruises. And that’s why your positions and your quick fixes and your loyalties change so often.

If you’re supporting a special interest (not even talking a financial supporter or lobbyist, just any interest), you’re likely supporting an un-researched position. Dig deeper and ask yourself why you feel the way you do about it. What’s at stake? What moral wrong do you think is coming of the thing you disagree with? What is really wrong with it? And what is the source (or sources) of that wrong? Will your proposed solution actually fix that wrong? Maybe you won’t know for sure, but at least you’ll have an educated guess rather than just an emotional response.

Here’s an example of how this looks, from one of the most well-reasoned candidates I’ve come across this season (expand the section on abortion and you’ll see that she’s really thought a lot about this. Add research to that well-reasoned opinion, and you’re golden).

So often, we start at step 2. We never stop to question whether step 1 was good or right or accurate in the first place.

So often, we stop at step 3. We hypothesize, we spew out pathos, we climb atop soap boxes filled with buzzwords. Did we forget to actually do the work to confirm or defeat our hypotheses?

If you’re supporting a policy, a reason, a why, if you’re questioning step 1 to make sure it gets at the issue, if you’re picking up the problem by its roots and following them down to see where they get their life from, then you are much closer to having my vote — even if your policies are slightly different than my own — than the candidates who so obviously just say what an impassioned citizen wants to hear about the outcome.

“Vote for Summer! I mean, who wants to eat chiminichangas next year? Not me. With me, it will be summer all year long!”.

In the end, I’d rather vote for a thinker with a different opinion than my own than for a product of the status quo who doles out word-candy like its free (actually it is). Word candy doesn’t make me feel better, and it shouldn’t make you feel better either. It’s just empty calories, folks.

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