League of Women Voters:Let your values drive your votes

Values are fundamental beliefs that define what we do and how we do it. Values guide us to choose between right and wrong and recognize how our choices affect outcomes.

Political party values have shaped our nation for generations. Do we know what our leaders and legislators value? To answer this question, it helps to look at four values that cross-cultural, religious and geographic boundaries.

Justice requires fair, impartial and equitable distribution of resources and opportunities. It demands that rights and freedoms should be protected and that all people are treated with dignity and respect.

Compassion requires us to be aware of the needs of others and to reduce suffering when possible. Genuine compassion requires us to be sensitive, caring and non-judgmental.

Respect for life acknowledges that life is sacred, and all living things are interconnected. Respect for life leads us to care for others and our environment.

Integrity requires us to be honest, truthful, fair, and decent. These behaviors make us trustworthy, reliable, and consistent.

Political parties are powerful forces. The Democratic and Republican parties are the largest of several political parties in the United States. Every party has a platform that defines values and outlines policies related to economics, education, health care, climate, immigration and numerous other issues. The following paragraphs cite a few examples of key values mentioned in the Democratic and Republican party platforms.

Per their platform, the Democratic Party generally supports social programs – labor unions, consumer protection, workplace safety regulations, equal opportunity, disability rights, racial equality, criminal justice reforms, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. It tends to support abortion rights and the LGBT community. The party typically agrees with the scientific consensus on climate change and supports regulations against environmental pollution. It favors a multilateral approach in foreign policy.

Per their platform, the Republican Party generally supports free market capitalism, free trade, deregulation of corporations, restrictions on labor unions, lower taxes, small government, restrictions on immigration and opposition to illegal immigration. The party supports gun rights outlined in the Second Amendment, school choice, school prayer, the death penalty and restrictions on abortion. It opposes drug legalization and affirmative action. It usually favors increased military spending, strong national defense and unilateral action.

Our votes express our values. We don’t have to agree on everything in political party platforms, but it’s important to know what each party and its candidates value and what they will address if elected. Knowledge contributes to constructive dialogue about important issues and helps us make informed decisions when we vote. Voting empowers us to influence social, environmental, and political decisions that contribute to strong, stable, and safe communities.

The League of Women Voters’ mission is to empower voters and defend democracy. All League-sponsored work is strictly nonpartisan. We are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in all activities. We provide facts and encourage people to be informed and actively participate in all levels of government.

All people are welcome to attend LWVJC meetings. Our next meeting is June 15 at 6 p.m. at the Clark Pleasant Branch of the Johnson County Public Library, 350 Clearwater Blvd, Whiteland.

LWVJC members Cindi Payson and Mary Kooi wrote this column. To learn more about LWVJC, visit lwvjcin.org. Send comments to [email protected].