It seems like everything we hear about these days is related to the upcoming presidential election. It seems like everyone has an opinion on who should be the next president. Newspapers all have an opinion and each news network and reporter has a strong preference, whether they admit it or not. It sometimes gets difficult to make your own decision with so many outside influences.
It is not unusual for a day at the firehouse to include a political discussion. There are some firefighters that are very educated in politics, and there are some that just pick a party because that’s what they always do. Then there are those firefighters that sway back and forth, sometimes just to get a reaction from the other firefighters. I guess we all like to stir the pot from time to time.
If you want to vote responsibly the only way to see what these candidates are all about is to look at their voting record. I spent a few minutes and found a website (www.govtrack.us) that will email you every time Congress votes on a bill. You can also track the status and voting on previous bills. You can search for bills that relate to firefighters, pensions, and safety. If you want to vote smart, support the candidates that support the things that are important to you and to firefighters.
One topic that gets a lot of attention these days is pensions. For some reason, every time tax increases are talked about, they always blame pensions. Some states are better than others, but if your pension is controlled by your state, they most likely have not properly contributed to the pension fund. Now when it’s time to pay out the pension benefits, they say they can’t afford it. If funded properly there would be no problem.
The International Association of Firefighters operates a political action committee. Members of the IAFF contribute to this fund which supports candidates that vote for the interests of firefighters. I am not a big fan of these political action committees. I think they create corrupt politicians. I have contributed to both a state and national PAC for years and have seen some things very beneficial to firefighters get passed because of PAC action. I have also seen politicians that favored from the PAC go to prison, so they work both ways.
Firefighters often get involved in local politics by supporting candidates that say they are going to help the firefighters. Sometimes that works, but it can also backfire if your candidate loses. I have seen the non-supported mayoral candidate totally dismantle a fire department because they supported the other candidate.
So how should a firefighter vote when it’s time to check a box for President? You can vote the party your family always votes for but that isn’t always going to help things at the firehouse. You can vote democratic because they say they favor workers, or you can go republican because they say they are going to cut taxes. Both parties say they are going to fix the healthcare problem, but neither candidate has a clue what it is to pay for insurance.
Personally I am undecided, I usually vote for the candidates that are endorsed by my union. If you look at the IAFF website you will see what seems to be the opinion of the country. “We have two candidates who seem to have trouble telling the truth.” Their rancor and rhetoric is over the top.” I agree with that 100%, and I am still undecided.
By John Morse
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