Stanfield: Vote policy not party

Arisson Stanfield

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

With midterm elections fast approaching, many college students are wrestling with who and what to vote for. While voting for whatever candidate represents one’s party may be a simple solution, it is far more reasonable, noble and beneficial to vote based on individual policy.


Towing the party line is an attractive option when one is not extremely well acquainted with the issues in the political sphere. Time is precious, especially to college students, and becoming well acquainted with the modern political parlance and well informed on the issues may not seem like a high priority. 

Instead, it may be far easier to default to the party that best matches one’s values. But assurance can erode accountability and always ensuring one’s party has their vote is a quick way to make sure those in power neglect their responsibilities. 

This is a bipartisan issue that affects liberals and conservatives. While the Republican party has long championed individualism and freedom it can, at times, be completely blind to the way unchecked freedom threatens individuals more than it protects them. 

Take for instance the war on drugs which originated with Richard Nixon. Its policy of prohibiting drugs viewed as dangerous to society has ultimately lead to the incarceration of thousands of American’s for non-violent offenses.

This policy has arguably hurt individual freedom more than it has protected it by defining what private individuals can put into their body and punishing those who deviate. Conservatives who blindly embrace it to remain copacetic with their party ultimately pervert their own message. The same negative trend occurs in the Democratic Party. 

The Democrats argue that they are the party of the poor and dispossessed, the disenfranchised and the downtrodden but at times their policies reflect just the opposite. For instance, minimum wage is often championed by the Democrats, but it has long been argued that the effect of such policies disproportionately harms the poor and less educated.

If a business must pay its workers a certain minimum, it incentives them get the most bang for their buck and hire only the most qualified candidates. This means that workers who could have undercut their competition by working for lower wages before are now priced out of the market. 

The need for nuance in voting is not a new issue. Founding father John Adams stated that there was nothing that he feared more than the division of the country into, “two great parties, each arranged under its leaders.” Even the first President George Washington stated in his final presidential speech that dissent between the parties naturally leads to a”spirit of revenge” as well as “foreign influence and corruption.” 

Given that the most recent Presidential election may have been one of the most polarizing in recent memory and was marred with accusations of foreign influence and corruption, it would seem Washington’s warning rang true.  

In order to find our way out of political divisiveness and blindness, we have to start paying attention to the issues and not the person discussing them. What is most important is that we have educated voters, not political ideologues who follow their party mascot like lemmings off of a cliff.


If we are skillful, we could even expand the political spectrum enough to allow for third party candidates to be viable in national elections. As in much of Europe, we could have a country where a host of parties offer differing and plausible alternatives to one another and citizens can truly see how many good and bad ideas there are to choose from.

What is undeniable is that Americans are stuck on a political seesaw. Power swings back and forth between two parties and the people who are the most in need are often forgotten in the midst. So when we vote we must look further than the color of a candidate’s tie or blazer and we must think critically about the issues. 

Arisson Stanfield can be reached at or on Twitter @OddestOdyssey.