1. Women’s reproductive rights – No matter how the rhetoric is being twisted by the media, it is clear that a Republican administration would severely and significantly restrict a woman’s access to abortion, to the point where it is likely to become illegal in 30 states. Despite their opposition to abortion, Republicans are also against increasing women’s access to contraception, and support abstinence-only sex education. The Republican VP candidate, Paul Ryan, has co-sponsored legislation to remove the ability of women who are raped to access an abortion. These are radical positions which could have far-reaching consequences for women’s rights at a time when four members of the Supreme Court are elderly and could be replaced at any moment.
2. LGBT rights – For the first time, the Democratic party platform actually supports gay marriage. DADT was repealed, but Republicans have threatened to reinstate it despite solid evidence from the armed forces that the new policy is a positive change. President Obama has ceased to defend DOMA, the unconstitutional law preventing gay marriages made legally in one state from being recognized in other states, yet the Republican party platform still supports DOMA. Even though these issues don’t affect me personally, I consider them to be important civil rights just as worthy of protection as a woman’s access to abortion or children’s access to education.
3. Healthcare – the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) directly resulted in allowing me to obtain healthcare coverage again after being kicked off my dad’s plan when I graduated from college. Of course, the ACA isn’t perfect. I wish it had gone further in establishing a national healthcare plan that any individual can access if they need it. However, it is a step in the right direction. Democrats fundamentally believe that access to affordable healthcare (including preventative medicine) is a fundamental human right which should be available to every U.S. citizen. I am confident that the ACA will only be improved upon in the future in a Democratic administration or Congress. Republicans, meanwhile, have voiced their support for important provisions of the ACA (such as maintaining coverage for people with pre-existing conditions) but failed to provide details on how they would accomplish that goal. Even these few concessions still fail to provide healthcare access to millions of Americans.
4. Overall role of the government in domestic affairs – There are some important issues that I would prefer to see tackled by a Democratic administration rather than a Republican one. For example, immigration. President Obama supports the DREAM Act, which allows children who were brought into the country illegally to work toward citizenship if they attend college or join the military. He also supports a focus on deporting violent criminals and other law-breaking illegal immigrants rather than wasting valuable federal resources on attempting to deport any and every illegal immigrant (which is impossible). Sure, there are problems in enforcement of these policies (and complaints that too many illegal immigrants are being deported, including non-violent offenders, rather than complaints about lax deportation policies). But I want to give him 4 more years to try and work it out.
5. Foreign policy – this is the area where I feel both parties are lacking. I am disturbed by the recent embassy attack in Libya and the information fumble that followed. I am also curious about how drone strikes are planned and approved, and why drones are still being used when they cause unnecessary civilian casualties. U.S. involvement in the Middle East needs to be completely reconfigured, in my opinion, and the hostility of many Middle Easterners to the U.S. presence in their region needs to be taken into account. But I do not trust the Republicans to do a better job. Even though President Obama has so far failed to reign in Israel’s militancy and prevent further settlements in the Palestinian territories, Republicans are even more attached to Israel and refuse to question its actions. Republicans have voiced support for even greater intervention in the Middle East, specifically in Iran. Republicans support policies endorsing torture “enhanced interrogation” and were responsible for the two greatest foreign policy failures of the century thus far; Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t believe that anyone should cast their vote purely for foreign policy reasons in this election, because neither party has a perfect solution to the quagmire of problems we face in that area. But, the Democrats still have my vote of competence for foreign policy over the Republicans for the above reasons.
To sum it up: if you are a woman who cares about reproductive safety and freedom or a man who cares about his mother’s/wife’s/sister’s/friend’s choices, an LGBT person or an ally, an illegal immigrant or someone who is friends with one, a person who is uninsured or potentially could be uninsured at some point in your life; there is really no reason that you should vote for a Republican in this election. I didn’t even cover economic reasons to support the Democratic party because they are too technical for my limited amount of time right now, but I think this list is enough to cover a majority of the electorate anyway.