Anyone following political news in the past week has noticed that the candidates and the media seem settled on change as the buzzword for this campaign. We, the American people, should instead select choice as the theme for this election and all others.
As a few of the candidates have been quick to point out, change can be good or bad or anything in between. That's where our democracy comes in, granting the electorate the power to bring about wanted changes and eschew unpopular ones.
So far, this election has proven to be pretty good on choice -- at least on a few major points. On the side of the Republicans, we have an ex-minister in Mike Huckabee. And Rudy Giuliani, with what may be an atypical stance on abortion for a member of his party. And Romney, with his Mormon faith. And John McCain, who suffered torture first-hand, and now strongly opposes the practice of waterboarding. And Ron Paul, who wants to end the income tax. On the side of the Democrats, we have the first African American, the first woman, and a candidate who says he's seen a UFO. Despite what some might want you to think, differences aren't bad -- they're what make elections interesting.
But there have been setbacks on the choice-front as well. Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul have been excluded from debates. These candidates have single-digit results in some nationwide polls, indicating that millions of Americans believe in their candidacies. Yet they are being occasionally barred from participation.
In the only New Hampshire debate to which he was invited in the days before the primary, when Paul started talking about reforming the Federal Reserve System, the other candidates laughed at him. If his ideas on this issue are truly laughable, they would do better to engage in meaningful debate, perhaps convincing some of Paul's supporters in the process. For instance, the approximately 10 percent of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that voted for Paul could have pushed Mitt Romney over the top in both states.
Regardless of whether Paul's views are terrible or exceptional, whether Edwards is right to be speaking out against corporate greed, or whether Obama is correct in favoring network neutrality legislation, it's nice to see choices on a variety of issues that most candidates on both sides of the aisle too often stay away from. After all, that's what our democracy should be about. By taking stances on these issues, these candidates are allowing us -- the voters -- to make a choice. A choice that has the potential to bring about drastic change in an election -- or not.