For hundreds Chenango County voters, the upcoming elections will be decided by a single issue.
Of course, this isnít a new trend. Local, state and federal elections have often been rooted in single-issue politics, many of which become the basis of a candidateís platform. From civil rights to health care, tax rates to religious values, everyone has an issue at the forefront that they feel trumps all others and it can potentially sway an election in either direction.
With elections in Chenango County right around corner, we here at The Evening Sun have received a barrage of ďLetters to the EditorĒ voicing the opinions of local voters and what current issues they find most important. In New Berlin, for example, the hot topic is the incorporation of the Unadilla Valley Ambulance Corporation (UVAC). In most other areas, including Oxford, Plymouth, Pharsalia, Guilford and Preston, fracking (or lack thereof) is king. Meanwhile, scores of other prevalent issues - farmland preservation, growth of local business, casino gaming in the Southern Tier and gun rights, to name a few - have, for the most part, been pushed out of the spotlight.
Itís impossible to argue the validity of such issues, given the potential impact they have on the region. But itís not the fact that voters are sensitive about these topics that I take umbrage. Instead, itís the fact that for many voters, these are the only issues that will matter when they head to the polls, the single relevant issues - the ones that will inevitably shape the outcome of the elections. Simply put, this has become a single issue election in most municipalities.
While I understand that some people feel passionately about particular topics (and itís certainly not for me to say how people should vote), I see this growing trend of single issue politics as a catalyst for a do-nothing government at both the national and local levels. Itís a plight thatís crippling our political system, yet people still weigh in heavily on particular matters while neglecting to look at the broader picture. Whereís the merit in a struggling farmer who votes for a candidate because of his opposing views on fracking, even though the same candidate supports increased property taxes and shows no support for the local ag industry?
To make matters worse, The Evening Sun has also received several letters from write-in candidates from all over the county who, influenced by one particular issue, have put their name on the ballot. While I fully support our democratic system that allows anyone to do so, itís unsettling that anyone would vie for public office without regard for all issues. Will single issue voters be misled by a promise made today that will be ignored after votes are counted?
Despite all this, it seems that more and more people are casting their vote based on one or two issues rather than the candidate overall in both local and national elections. And itís only one small piece of a larger train wreck known as single issue politics, the political practice of focusing on one problem at a time.
So I leave with this: donít make this a single issue election. You may not find the ideal candidate who agrees with you at every turn but when you take into account all issues, Iím sure you can find who is worthy of your vote.