An empathetic vote

Few people are able to keep their personal lives separate from their professional lives. Photos of friends and family line our desks, or are stored in our digital cameras so they can be shared with co-workers. Cell phones are kept close as a lifeline to family and friends.

Few people are able to keep their personal lives separate from their professional lives. Photos of friends and family line our desks, or are stored in our digital cameras so they can be shared with co-workers. Cell phones are kept close as a lifeline to family and friends.

Presidential and vice presidential candidates are just as affected by life experiences as the average person. Memories and experiences shape our decisions. The American public has a right to know what our leaders base their decisions on.

For example, presidential candidate Senator John McCain suffered as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War for over five years. As a result, he is more sympathetic than President Bush to the treatment of POWs. McCain supports American veterans and tried to stop the torture going on at Guantanamo Bay.

On the other hand, coming from a military family and being a military man himself, McCain proposes to continue to drag out this endless war.

Although presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama doesn’t have experience as a POW, he comes from a background that makes him understand the importance of both local and world affairs.

In Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, he writes about his diverse experiences of being born by a Caucasian mother from Kansas and a Kenyan father. Also, growing up in Hawaii, Indonesia and finally Illinois gave him a diverse cultural background. Through his experiences he has been a strong advocate for equal rights.

Obama also wrote about growing up with religious diversity. His mother had no specific religious denomination. She encouraged equal reading of the Bible, the Quran, Greek mythology and other religious texts. Although Obama has been a Christian for many years, this open-minded childhood hopefully will make him more understanding of all Americans’ religious beliefs.

Growing up without his father, Obama says during speeches that he wants to be there for his daughters. He also wants to encourage men to play an active role in raising their children. Not only would this promote a healthier family life, but it would also lighten the government’s responsibility for having to support as many single mothers.

Right now, aside from the war, most Americans are most concerned with the economy. As the gap widens between the upper and lower class, we need a president that understands the importance of the middle class.

Obama understands firsthand the financial burdens caused by student loans and childcare. Therefore, he wants to support earlier education for kids so they can start learning younger and their parents aren’t financially crippled with as much childcare costs. He also wants to make the first $4,000 of college free for all students with 100 hours of community service.

Millionaire McCain has no firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be financially struggling in modern day America.

There are countless other personal details to be contemplated so we can potentially understand the motivations behind their decisions.

Vice presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin’s spouse works in oil field production for British Petroleum. As a result, Palin supports Alaskan oil drilling rather than alternative fuels.

As a woman, Palin should support women’s rights and strive for equality. However, she’s been disappointingly mum on the subject. Her anti-abortion beliefs, even in cases of rape and incest, seem very anti-woman. She believes in teaching abstinence to teenagers, but if she can’t manage this in her own household it’s doubtful that she’ll convince the rest of America’s teens.

Vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden grew up in the middle class with his father being a car salesman. He supports the middle class. After Biden’s first wife and their daughter died in a car accident, he stopped driving. Without personally riding the train each day, the pitfalls of public transportation wouldn’t be on his radar.

Instead, he’s a strong supporter of increased Amtrak funding and rail security.

The president and vice president have the most important jobs in the country and are responsible for the overall safety of American citizens. It’s important that these politicians make their job their number one priority for the years that they serve.

Biden and McCain’s children are old enough to take care of themselves. Obama’s children are school age, about the same age as President John F. Kennedy’s children.

Palin, recently had a Down syndrome baby named Trig. Infants are usually time consuming for both parents, but a special-needs baby is going to need even more care and attention. According to the Down’s Syndrome Association, these children are more prone to coughs and “just over half of children with Down syndrome are born with a heart or bowel problem that may require operations.”

Yes, as vice president, Palin could hire countless nannies, but all babies need their mother and father. This toddler needs parents that are fully concerned about his well being instead of being torn between family and duty.

Campaigns advocated by each candidate are fundamentally important, but his or her personal life allows us to see them as a well-rounded human being rather than just policies wrapped in a suit. Their humanity answers the question if they can empathize with our individual struggles.