Party lines should not be uncrossable

The Nov. 4 midterm elections are almost upon us. The dedicated Americans who get up and vote have the opportunity to select the exceptional men and women who will lead us.

These voters will have impartially surveyed the campaigns and dissected the hundreds of candidates to find the ones most likely to provide a brighter future. After all, it’s our responsibility to safeguard our democratic ideals. These Americans would never be so callous as to simply vote for the party they most identify with. Right?

Let’s examine the post for Florida’s commissioner of agriculture. This is a position that enormously influences environmental policy in Florida. In a state that could face drastic consequences from climate change, the public is surely aware of who’s running.

In these elections, Thaddeus “Thad” Hamilton is challenging the incumbent, Adam Putnam. They have wildly different views on policy and its implementation.

But I’ve left out the most relevant tool for selecting our candidate. Yes, I neglected to mention which candidate is a Democrat and which a Republican. And guess what? I’m not going to tell you.

Too often we fall victim to the corrupting trap that is straight-ticket voting. According to Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle, it’s possible that two-thirds of Americans are filling the country’s most powerful positions with candidates based solely on their party affiliation.

This assumes that everyone in your party deserves to have this power. I hope we remember that politicians, deservedly or not, are commonly known as scumbags. Even if they are only as scummy as the average person, they should still be vetted before we let them decide who can be married or if a tree’s only use is as a campaign flyer.

I know it’s unfair to expect busy Americans to take the time to familiarize themselves with each candidate. Wait, actually it’s not unfair at all. If you have time to read Buzzfeed, you have time to pull up Florida’s election information page. I just did. It took about 0.453 seconds.

Research candidates on your own. Learn what their policies are and how they might be different from their peers’. Please don’t select our leaders randomly or uncaringly. Respect a process that allows us freedoms almost unprecedented in world history. But, above all else, please just close your laptop, and go vote.

Spencer Pretecrum is a senior majoring in psychology and creative writing.