I’m a “values” voter

Values: emotion-laden beliefs about how things should or should not be

Um, yeah, I’ve got a lot of those.

I believe very strongly in a vision of how the world should be: a more just distribution of resources, opportunities for all children to be safe and to learn, supports for families of all configurations, core human and civil rights for all persons, a healthy environment for this generation and those to come.

I have definite emotions wrapped up in those values, and strong emotional responses–anger, sadness, elation, hope, fear, disappointment–associated with our movement towards or away from that vision.

And I have policy preferences that stem from those values, as an expression of those values and the strategies I see as most promising for bringing them to fruition.

And my desire to see those policies enacted drives my voting behavior, my political contributions, my willingness to volunteer for candidates, and, yes, my interpretation of “objective facts.”

Even though I’m a sometimes social scientist, then, I make no effort to pretend to divorce my values from my perceptions of reality. I know that they are a lens through which I see the world. I know that there are words, and images, that are, for me, powerful activators of my political motivations, and that I’m instinctively biased against a candidate who talks about the “death tax” or “the gay lifestyle”.

Objectivity is overrated.


And it’s really unattainable anyway.

So, this election, I’m claiming my identity as a “values voter”, someone who makes every decision about for whom I’m going to vote (or for what) based on the values that I hold most dear, and only secondly on my logic-based assessment of how well a given policy or candidate will advance those values.

What about you? What values will motivate your vote (and your decision to vote) next Tuesday? How do your values influence how you see the “facts”? And how will you communicate these values to candidates and organizations seeking your support?

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