America has a choice to make. Come November of next year, We the People will decide who will be our Nation’s 45th President. It is not merely a choice of Republican or Democrat. It is a choice about the direction we wish to go as a nation. Will we continue down the path of larger government, larger taxes and larger spending or will we choose to restore our Constitution and the principles of limited government on which it is founded?
The Constitution is probably the least understood document in our nation today. It was written to define a system of government that would have only a certain number of powers and leave the rest to the individual States and to the people themselves (see the Tenth Amendment). It is designed to prevent the government from interfering in our lives. We have repeatedly allowed the government—under both parties—to ignore constitutional limits. The upcoming election will help to determine whether or not this will continue.
For an election over a year away, there is certainly no shortage of candidates. On the Democratic side former first lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is an early frontrunner. As a candidate, Clinton will have to answer for her lack of involvement (and the later cover-up) in securing the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. She is also currently under investigation by the FBI for handling top-secret information on personal devices and servers. The other top Democrat in the race is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders strongly supports socialized medicine and a $15 minimum wage. He also recently came out with a video announcing his intentions to make all public colleges in the U.S. tuition free. This may sound good at first, especially to those of us with large student debt loads. Reality is, however, someone has to pay for it. That someone will be you. His plan is to raise federal income taxes on “the rich” to pay for it. Ironically, this would hurt the ability of parents to help fund the rest of their children's college expenses. Besides, what would it do to small, private schools such as Union College?
The Republican side is much more open. At least 17 individuals have declared their candidacy. Some political outsiders have made a splash, or are even leading in the polls. Donald Trump is running on his own business experience and is leading in the polls. His flamboyant personality along with his bold statements on immigration and other issues have gained him a large following among the GOP base. Whether or not this popularity will continue, it’s too early to tell. He has supported socialized medicine (much like Sanders), said some despicable things about specific individuals, and said on an MSNBC talk show that he “identif[ies] as a Democrat on some things.” Further, his “outsider” appeal is misplaced. He has run for the Presidency three times in his life as both a Republican and a member of the Reform Party.
One true outsider is Dr. Ben Carson, who is gaining on Trump in the GOP polling, went from political nobody to conservative superstar after his 2013 Prayer Breakfast speech. His appeal stems not only from being an outsider, but also from his level-headedness and thoughtfulness on the many issues voters face.
Some “insiders” include Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Rand Paul who have both stood on the Senate floor in filibuster protesting government overreaches such as Obamacare and NSA spying. There are former Governors Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and Mike Huckabee (Arkansas). Walker has reformed welfare, frozen tuition at the University of Wisconsin, and made his State a “right to work” State (meaning you don’t have to join a union in order to work in unionized industries). Huckabee is a former minister and is running heavily on social issues. He is pro-life and pro-marriage.
Who, then, is the best person to lead the United States? I leave that to you. There are several other candidates I could spend time on, but for the sake of time, I will not. You need to look at the statements, beliefs, and records of all those seeking to be president, senator, representative, governor, etc. and evaluate them for yourself. Thomas Jefferson once said "An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people." Educate yourself. Read the Constitution and the history around it. Only by understanding and defending the Constitution and its principles will we be a free people.
Ray is a senior studying history.