This one's gonna be quick and dirty, folks.
Even before I got political and drifted so far left I fell off the map, I hated election years. I hate them. They are hateful. The are horrible and hateful and over long and I hate them. HATE THEM. But as I think of it, it actually has very little to do with the candidates themselves, who I just generally assume are disingenuous at best and dangerous at worst. No, I hate election years because of the plague of outrageous stupidity the sweeps the nation, infecting even people I generally respect.
If you would prefer that I don't lose my shit on you (at least not from a talking-about-the-election standpoint), keep these things in mind:
1. Party loyalty is for the weak (minded). This is one of those things that I say from the bottom of my heart, and while I want badly to pull punches where dear friends who are party activists are concerned, I just can't.
If you want to be an enrolled voter because you find yourself mostly aligned with their viewpoints, fine. But you have a responsibility to speak up when you disagree, and if you find yourself torturing logic to excuse the sketchy shenanigans of some slimy douchebag just because he's "on your team," you suck.
By the same token, there are some parties that have more unpalatable platforms and attract a disproportionate number of bottom feeders, but they are not always evil, and they're not always wrong.
Elections result in people literally controlling our lives. We're not picking the homecoming queen. Think a little harder than that, 'kay?
2. There's tons of egregious shit to criticize. Don't be petty. You know how when people argue on the internet and one of them has a typo, the opponent inevitably responds, "Oh, you 'knoe' it's true? Guess you don't 'knoe' how to spell, though, huh?" This is not meaningful debate, this is elementary school. If you must bicker, even knowing that political debate NEVER results in people changing their minds, own your opponent on logical fallacies, factual errors and dishonesty. Otherwise you look weak and cheap and too poorly informed to win the debate on substance. Also, you make people who share your views look like morons, so stop. Please.
3. Single-issue voters can suck it. Single issue voters love Ron Paul. I'm against U.S. military involvement overseas. Bam, Ron Paul. I'm a hardcore pro-lifer. Bam, Ron Paul. I don't think about issues beyond things that affect me in my dorm room and I'm a wicked stoner who wants to legalize. Bam, Ron Paul. I'm racist, sexist, and homophobic and want to see any protections for minorities thrown out the window. Bam, Ron motherfucking Paul. Ron Paul could get elected by single-issue voters, but I'm guessing that the hippies that wanted to end war and legalize pot are probably not really into the whole pro-life anti-already existing humans agenda. Dear Otherwise Sane People: Stop saying things like, "I like that Ron Paul is anti-war, but I don't agree with a lot of his other ideas," as though you're still weighing out whether he might be an okay choice. Thanks, The World.
4. Consistency is not necessarily a virtue. Okay. Pandering is a bad thing. This is when someone says that they believe whatever will get them the most support in a given situation. This means they might be inconsistent in what they say about their position on a topic from campaign stop to campaign stop. Pandering is a bad thing. This person probably has a consistent opinion, but "flip-flops" out of political expedience.
Open-mindedness is a good thing. That's when you espouse a belief in something, but you listen to other people talk about that thing and, when presented with compelling evidence, change your mind. Suppose you believe that car engines are powered by magical sprites on exercise bicycles, but then someone shows you the interior of an internal combustion engine and you now declare that you firmly believe the scientific community's position on what makes cars go. Your new opinion is inconsistent with your previous position, but the change represents new wisdom and growth as opposed to deceit.
Suppose a candidate also believes in car engine sprites, and after being shown the same information you were, proclaims that the tenuous internal combustion "theory" is just some mumbo jumbo that scientists like to throw around and that he still believes in the sprites and furthermore thinks we need to spend more money on researching engine sprites. He's consistent, but he's fucking crazy.
Alright, I'll stop now, but please. Don't let the internets and televisions whip you into the kind of berserker state that makes these behaviors and beliefs happen. Be sane. Be rational. Be skeptical. Of all of them. Groucho Marx famously wouldn't join any club that would have him as a member. To be honest, I don't really want to give the job of president, or congressman, or senator to anyone who would want it. Question motives and don't be an asshole.