The presidential primary elections are taking place throughout 12 states Tuesday including Arkansas. This election is important, and you should vote if you're registered to do so. It's taken a while, but I finally know who I'm voting for.
That said, I'm not writing this column to endorse a candidate. I actually found it quite difficult to come to a final decision, because I feel so many of the candidates have noteworthy drawbacks. My mom vented about this to me just last week, saying she's tired of being forced to vote for which politician she considers the least bad.
"I vote for the person, not the party," she said. "I haven't had a person I was excited to vote for in years."
I've been voting since 2010 and I already understand that. Like my mom, I try to avoid the party line if possible. Partisanship has always gotten under my skin; I know my stances on specific issues, but that doesn't mean I feel completely comfortable as a Republican or a Democrat. Sometimes, I'm not even sure if I fit in with any of the many third parties.
I suspect that's true for most of us. We're all human. Many small things set us apart from others, so it makes sense for that to be true in politics as well. Come election season, we have to pick apart the beliefs we consider less important just to be able to identify with a party politician. I don't know about you, but I don't like that very much.
My mom said that trend has seemed to worsen as the years have progressed. I'm not sure about that; I've been a registered voter for only six years now. I am sure that this year's presidential candidates are much more extreme than those who ran in 2012. This year, the candidates in both parties make past candidates seem pretty moderate.
I wrote a column a few weeks ago about how Donald Trump is possibly the worst of them all. I stand by that. He's loud, unpredictable and vain. He doesn't seem to have a stance on any issue requiring anything longer than catchphrase, and he plays for or against the party depending on what he thinks will help him win the nomination.
I dislike partisanship but I dislike vain politicians much more.
Unfortunately, the other Republican candidates aren't too much better than Trump. Though they do know where they stand on the issues, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are too busy attacking each other to say what that is. Trump is probably at fault for most of this. His popularity as the no-nonsense prospect has caused most of those he's competing against to lash out against each other.
The Democrats haven't exactly put out shining candidates, either. Hillary Clinton has had too many scandals already, and she hasn't even been elected president. Even worse, she's handled these scandals so poorly that many people consider her a liar and a fake. Because she's been in politics for such a long time, she seems out of touch as well.
Bernie Sanders certainly doesn't come off as fake, but his passion can be overbearing at times. He's definitely more extreme than Clinton; he says so himself. While he's mastered the art of the grassroots campaign, he's also a bit too idealistic. He'd probably find it difficult to compromise because he's so fixated on the way he believes things should be.
I know I'm voting for a flawed candidate, but I feel it's my duty as an American to do that. The ability to vote is pretty amazing if you think about it. How cool is it that we get to have a say -- no matter how small -- in who our leaders are?
Get out today and vote. Vote for Cruz. Vote for Clinton. Write someone in if you want to.
Your vote represents your voice, and your voice matters.
* * *
Samantha Jones is a reporter for the Carroll County News. Her email address is CCNNews@cox-internet.com.