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OPINION | BRENDA LOOPER: Informed voters

by Brenda Looper | October 12, 2022 at 3:41 a.m.
Brenda Looper

Those who know me well know I despise politics as practiced today, which is why I don't identify with any party. A lot of that is because we were spoiled for riches, politics-wise, when I was a kid.

We still had some bad eggs, but we had far more actual public servants then who were willing and able to negotiate to get things done for the benefit of the most people. The first negative ad I remember, against John Paul Hammerschmidt (that earworm will never leave my head, dang it), made me determined to ensure that my mom was voting for Hammerschmidt. I needn't have worried since she tended to base her votes on how incumbents had served their constituents in office, or new candidates based on their policy proposals. She paid attention.

It wasn't until much later in her life that she would vote a straight Democratic ticket. The reason was simple: She couldn't abide what the Republican Party had become.

As a general rule, I don't advocate voting a straight ticket because that implies you haven't done the research needed to make an informed choice. I'd be lying, though, if I said it's not sometimes necessary.

I understand the attraction for using political parties as a guideline for choosing candidates, but considering that most people are an amalgamation of beliefs that evolve over time, the idea that someone representing one party or another holds only those beliefs condoned by the party is ridiculous. I seriously doubt Hammerschmidt would have foreseen the day when his party was represented by the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene (he likely would be called a RINO today). I'm sure Dale Bumpers would have been bemused by self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders being called a Democrat (he's officially independent, but caucuses with Democrats).

It's just easy to assume that everyone with a D or an R behind their names is the same. It doesn't matter, then, if they have no policy proposals fleshed out, because they'll do whatever the party thinks is best. Never mind that nuance exists, that no issue is truly binary, and that members of the same party can disagree on issues. And by the way, whatever your party says about the other party's beliefs is most likely flat-out wrong or at minimum exaggerated.

I'll be masked up and voting sometime in the next few weeks (early voting opens Oct. 24). Before I vote, though, I'll make sure I know who and what I'm voting for.

I would hope most people have done their due diligence, which I believe would lead them to understand that the four ballot issues are no good, for various reasons, one of which would be that at least two of them would take away power from the people and invest far too much of it in the Legislature. The UA Cooperative Extension Service website ( is a great source for neutral information on the ballot issues, and our own Gwen Faulkenberry also recently did a stellar analysis of the issues.

I also hope that they'll be making their decisions on elective offices based on the people running, not the parties. Have incumbents done enough to merit staying in office? Have new candidates made their policies and positions clear, as well as made clear their relevant experience? Have they campaigned on solutions and positivity, or on negativity and fear of the other? Are they actually running for the office they've signed up for, or are they setting their sights elsewhere and running against people not even in the race?

Sure, it takes more work to be an informed voter, but I think we're worth that bit of research that goes beyond whatever a party label might imply.

I know not everyone is as big a nerd as I am (but wouldn't that be fun?). Still, I fantasize every once in a while that we have a system where the people actually do rule.

They research issues and candidates and make their decisions based on the positive things the candidate or ballot issue will do for the people at large. Ballots don't have party affiliations on them because they don't matter. There might even be ranked-choice voting, which would also require research on the part of the voter (yea, research!). And the Electoral College might finally become truly representative, with all states awarding votes for president proportionally instead of winner-take-all.

But I know that's not going to happen. There is too much in the current system that works in the parties' favor. Why ensure that all eligible voters can actually vote, or that they will endeavor to do research that might not work to a party's advantage? That's just crazy!

It's much easier to simply demonize opponents and heed hackneyed stereotypes of Democrats and Republicans (which in a lot of cases don't actually resemble the parties as they exist today).

That's what we do: Take the easy way so we don't have to do that awful thinking. It's our right as 'Muricans, ya know.

Change is hard. Why do something that's hard?

I dunno. Maybe because it's the right and smart thing to do?

Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Email her at Read her blog at

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